What Rwanda needs 20 years after the Genocide

“People must determine their own positive future”, What Rwanda needs 20 years after the Genocide

Ernest Ngabonzima


Today in rural Rwandan communities, people are proud that they have regained their hope

in life. Rwandans have started to believe in themselves, yet still struggle to be self-reliant and

maintain a sense of self-determination. This is a very long journey from the pervasive passive-

mindedness of 20 years ago in the horrible genocide of Tutsi.

Since 1994, Rwandans have dedicated their efforts into building themselves and their

communities. The first step to rebuild the country was to establish healing and reconciliation,

to unite Rwandans as one people, who respect all types of human dignity. So, now, who

should help Rwanda to have people who are self-determined? Who should play this role to

help the people of Rwanda to believe in themselves? Who will help Rwanda to drive its own



This is an obvious question, of course Rwandans themselves can help other Rwandans.

A young lady called Clenie Mushimiyimana of the Nyagisenyi village located in the countryside

of the Muhabura Volcano in Rwanda, was unable to continue her studies as a result of the

genocide. She decided that her future would be better if she had basic sewing skills which

would allow her to find job opportunities. She said: “I have been able to continue my studies

and I lost hope of living in the future but getting the chance to develop sewing skills will give me

an opportunity to create my own business and prosper.” Today, Clenie attends the vocational

school built in the Nyagisenyi village which was supported by Spark MicroGrants.


So, is Spark helping Rwandan people to determine their own positive future? Is Spark helping

Rwanda to be pro-active rather than staying with sorrow of Genocide?


I would strongly respond YES as Spark MicroGrants involves local people to change their

own lives. The Spark mission is community-led development, helping people to put their

own ideas into action. Through Spark, young graduates from universities work closely with

communities and engage them in a facilitation process of 3 to 5 months to help them to choose,

plan and implement a project. This is a very unique model for community-led development.

Spark involves the community in everything – ultimately increasing the sense of ownership and

creating sustainable solutions in communities.


I, Ernest Ngabonzima, am one of these young people, who have been touched a lot by what

happened in the genocide and questioned myself on how to help my country to regain hope the

a positive future. After finishing secondary school, I was concerned of how people were passive,

not thinking about the future but staying with sorrow and thinking about their relatives, their

parents, their friends lost in the genocide and even those who were stuck thinking about their

sins. I joined Spark in 2010 as a volunteer, it was a chance for me to start helping my broken

country to regain the hope of living the positive future and drive its own development.

I work with Spark to help Rwandan communities to alleviate poverty, to build good inter-

community relationships and to help these communities to learn the basic skills to give them the

ability to determine their own positive future.


As Rwandans, the positive future is in our hands, we should not be consumed by the sorrow

of the genocide but rather think about how to rebuild our broken hearts. It is time to question

ourselves: who am I? What is my history? How am I affected by the history? How is my

present? How should my future be? Who determines my future? What is my role in rebuilding

Rwanda? These are not only questions for Rwandan, but for humankind, everyone in this world

has a role to play to help Rwandans to realize their dreams, determine their own futures, and

take action in their own development.


Ernest Ngabonzima is the Rwandan Country Director at Spark Microgrants. For more on his work please

visit http://www.sparkmicrogrants.org.

*Originally published on sparkmicrogrants.org



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