Category Archives: Women

Tanzania evictees to get permanent homes

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Evictees from Tanzania who are temporarily housed in school structures in Jabana Sector, Gasabo District. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

Rwandans who were evicted from Tanzanian will be moved to their permanent homes by March, the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Affairs Permanent Secretary Antoine Ruvebana, said on Monday.

Ruvebana said the ministry is providing construction materials while districts are identifying land where to construct the housing units.

Over 5,830 evictees were last month temporarily moved from Kiyanzi and Rukara transit centre in the Eastern Province where they had been sheltered after they were banished from Kagera region in neighbouring Tanzania.

They are temporarily hosted in various districts in the country.

About 14,253 crossed into Rwanda following their controversial expulsion from Tanzania in August. A total of 8,361 have since reunited with their families in various parts of the country.

“The next phase is to relocate them from the current temporary residences to permanent homes,” Ruvebana said.

He said they had started distributing some scholastic materials to children and were considering providing them with health insurance (Mituelles de santé).

Some districts have already commenced the construction of houses for the evictees.

All districts were given a three-month period to reintegrate the evictees.

Rubavu District mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame said the process will be completed within two months.

“We have already hired a contractor who will work alongside the district,” Bahame said.

He said his district will put up 32 houses for the 60 people who were relocated there.

Gideon Ruboneza,  Ngororero District mayor, said they had identified land  in various sectors, including Kavumu, Ngororero  and Muhororo where 35 houses  for  101 people,  currently living in former school buildings in Kavumu sector will be built.

He said he is optimistic all the evictees will be resettled in the next two months.

Ruboneza said the district is employing the evictees in VUP programmes, a national anti-poverty scheme through which the poor receive support from the government.

UN agencies such as World Food Programme, Unicef and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are   providing the evictees with basic necessities.

Nyarugenge mayor Solange Mukasonga said those relocated to her district will be resettled in Kanyinya, Mageragere and Nyarugenge sectors.

She said 27 houses will be constructed, starting next month.

Mukasonga said they held a meeting with stakeholders, including religious leaders, and agreed to monitor and follow up on the evictees on a daily basis to ensure they access basic needs.

New Houses for 1,500 Elderly Genocide Widows

About twenty years after the tragedy of 1994, about 1,500 elderly genocide survivors from around the country are still either homeless or living in poor, unsatisfactory conditions. The government, through the Genocide survivors fund (FARG), says it is ready to build houses for the homeless and to rehabilitate those which are in critical conditions.

The program groups elders together, in order to facilitate their supervision regarding their living conditions, their health, and their assistance in general for a better, less lonely living style.

In order to make this feasible, Theophile Ruberangeyo, the executive secretary of FARG, says they are thinking of constructing and rehabilitating shared, group.

“These elders suffer from loneliness and lack of care, but if they are somehow together, they will interact each other and it is very easy to be aware of their neighbors’ problems”, he said. Apart from being old aged, some of these widows have other health problems like disabilities, and these should also get special care.

Local leaders, through a video-conference last week, expressed worries that the given budget is not enough to make sure that the houses are sustainable.

For instance, 944 houses slated for rehabilitation were allocated Frw 300 million, a small amount for so many houses. However, Ruberangeyo assured that there is a plan to have the budget increased in the upcoming budget revision.

Gisagara experience

Some districts, like Gisagara, have already adopted the plan. Leandre Karekezi, the mayor of Gisagara district, says that once the elders were living close to one another, it was easy to protect and care for them.

“There even some activities that they can do if they are together. They feel somehow not alone as they could feel if everyone is in his or her own house”, he said.

Inkeragutabara will build the houses, and most of districts have already signed contracts with them. Districts that have not yet signed contracts are requested to do it as soon as possible in order to have all activities starting in all districts.

James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, appreciated the initiative, arguing that it will help in making sure that these elders are well assisted. He suggested that there be a social worker hired to supervise these elders, providing services like counseling, among others.

According to suggestions from local leaders, each house will accommodate four or five widows. The Minister requested that the FARG establish an overall design of these houses in order to start the construction.

Butaro Cancer Centre opens new wing

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Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho is joined by Dr Paul Farmer, one of the founding directors of Partners in Health (2R) and Bill and Joyce Cummings (Friends of Rwanda), as well as Burera Mayor Samuel Sembagare (L) to commission the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Centre on Tuesday. The New Times/Irene Nayebare

Butaro Cancer Centre has opened a new wing to address the increasing demand for medical services at the facility.

The new facility, a brainchild of joint efforts between government and Partners in Health, among other stakeholders, has been named the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Centre (BACC).

BACC has been constructed to supplement the centre that has taken on more than 1,000 new patients on its oncology programme during its one-year existence.

Addressing officials who graced the opening of the centre, Dr Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health, said the only way to reduce cancer deaths is to integrate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Butaro District-based centre is the first to be established in a rural area across East Africa, and according to officials, some of the patients who have been treated there are from other EAC countries.

“Eighty-four per cent of cancer falls more heavily on the poor, especially in low and middle income countries,” Dr Farmer said, defending the decision to set up the facility upcountry.

The Minister for Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, said Rwanda has a plan of having a medical campus at Butaro.

“We avail services to our people and that’s what we are supposed to do but the people also have a task: to use the services given to them; for cancer screening, it’s free of charge,” Dr Binagwaho said.

Saved by cancer centre

Delphine Musabeyezu, a 39-year-old cancer survivor from Rusizi District, said she is grateful to be alive and for having completed her chemotherapy treatment.

“I am grateful to have received my treatment at Butaro Cancer Centre. I encourage other women to opt for early detection as it is the best way treatment can have desired outcome,” Musabeyezu said.

The new centre will have outpatient clinic for oncology consultations for new and existing patients, modern chemotherapy mixing facility for both inpatient oncology unit and outpatient, patient support groups and outpatient IV chemotherapy, among other services.

The cancer ward, a 24-bed facility, regularly has more than 100 per cent bed occupancy.

Observers say the establishment of BACC comes in handy to help ease pressure on the facility.

BACC will decongest the cancer ward and restrict hospitalisation to those patients who require complex or more than one day IV chemotherapy infusions or those who are severely ill.

Meet the Faces Behind Rwanda’s Flourishing Women Cricket

IT started like any other day. Maina woke up and headed to class. The then senior four student concluded the day with a jog at the school’s play ground. As she went through the drills, she was summoned by the school cricket coach to join the rest of the team. Efforts to explain her self that she had never held a bat or played cricket fell on deaf ears.

“I was exercising in the school field; the girl’s cricket team coach mistook me for a cricket player. He called me to join the team, when I tried to explain to him that I was not a player he insisted and that is how I became a cricketer,” Mary Maina narrates.

This is how one of Rwanda’s best female cricketers ended up building a passionate bond with the game of cricket. Mary Maina represents the cream of female cricketers who hold the future of women cricket in Rwanda.

With the upcoming ‘UAE Exchange Money Express’ Women Cricket Tournament, it will be yet another opportunity for the female cricketers to showcase talent. Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi talked to Maina, who plays for the ‘White Clouds Cricket Club’ and Cathia Uwamahoro, a member of Charity Club, to talk about the sport, how it has gained popularity in Rwanda, their inspirations and the challenges they have faced.

Mary Maina:

Born on September 17, 1992 in Kenya, Maina started playing cricket in 2010 while at APRED Ndera Secondary School.

She says she has strong love for the sport. “I treasure this game and always reflect on the circumstances under which I joined the sport. I actually trained for three days with the school team and was instantly picked to be the captain of the team during the inter-schools competition. I encountered several challenges because I started playing the sport without knowing all the rules of the game. In other words, I learnt most of the rules of the game in the field during the inter-schools tournament.”

She says that at first she was also scared of the cricket ball given the fact that it’s very hard.

“I didn’t even know the history of the game as the captain of the team but it’s the cricket ball that always freaked me out. I always thought that if it hit me, it would cause great injury and it’s funny because in a few moments it hit me but I got minor injuries and that didn’t make me quit the sport,” Maina reveals.

She adds that being part of the U19 National Team that represented the country in Tanzania in 2011 inspired her into embracing the sport even more.

“I was happy about the trip and the game and I got to learn a lot from the 2011 tournament. But I am grateful to the local companies that have empowered us and introduced local tournaments for the women cricketers. This has greatly improved our skills in the sport,” Maina acknowledges.

Besides the inter-schools competitions that are held annually, the first female tournament was held in February 2013 under the name VR Naidu because it was sponsored by an Indian family known as Naidu. The White Clouds Club are the defending champions.

In September 2013, Maina is enrolling at the National University of Rwanda to pursue a Bachelor’s course in Pharmacy.

“As a child I always wanted to be a doctor to closely work with people and impact on their lives. Although I’m not going to offer medicine, I will ably serve people as a pharmacist. I will also continue playing cricket at university. I would also wish to encourage more girls to join cricket. It’s a gentle game and it’s the only game in sports where your opponent is your friend, even though you’re competing. Respect is encouraged all the time,” Maina reveals.

She continues, “The girls should not be scared of the bat because it is made of hard wood or that the ball is hard too. Cricket is very exciting.”

Currently there are about ten schools in Rwanda that have fully established the female cricket teams and six of these schools are based in Kigali.

Cathia Uwamahoro:

Uwamahoro was also introduced to the sport in 2008 at the age of fifteen.

“I used to watch cricket on television and I didn’t understand what it was but one day I got to see people training at our school in Gikondo and I sat down and watched. I did this often and one day the coach asked me if I wanted to join and I accepted although I was a basketball player at the time,” Uwamahoro narrates.

She adds that she quit basketball to play cricket.

“Because of the love I gradually attained for cricket, I learnt the rules of the game pretty fast and I was able to play for the U19 National Team in Kenya in 2008. I was also able to play in 2010 and 2011 in Tanzania and I learnt a lot and gained more skills in all these region tournaments,” Uwamahoro explains.

She adds, “At first I didn’t like fielding because I was afraid of the ball hitting me but with time, I over came my fears and I can now field, bat and ball because it’s required as a team player.”

She reveals that her favourite local player is Andre Kayitera and internationally, she is inspired by the cricket legend Brian Lala.

Charles Haba, the President of the Rwanda Cricket Association, says that in Rwanda, cricket was first embraced in December 1999.

“We aggressively embarked on training female cricket players in 2006 and several women development programmes in the sport were embraced. We have taken on these programmes mainly through schools but also additionally we have started a women’s league. There are not many countries that have a structured women’s league,” Haba reveals.

Rwanda Cricket Association, the official cricket governing body in Rwanda, is a representative at the International Cricket Council and is an affiliate member. It attained its membership in 2003.

“Something else that is a bit unique is that every tournament that we have held, we have played a double-header for the girls. Basically what it means is that parallel to the boys competition, we have the women’s tournament and that applies even when we are going to seek sponsorship or during corporate events. This has had a positive impact on the women cricket teams.”

He adds that before, girls would go for the regional cricket women competitions and play well but as a result of lack of exposure, lose to different teams.

“Our biggest challenge is the lack of facilities because we have one main ground therefore we have to use it for both the women and men’s tournaments. The other challenges are not really big and we are happy that the girls love cricket,” Haba discloses.

He continues, “There is need to encourage women and girls to embrace cricket. Something I have learnt in cricket is that girls are not as demanding as the boys, yet the levels of output and levels of success come out quicker than the boys. I will give you practical examples of the fantastic experiences we have encountered with the girls. The boys tend to ask for so much because they are so hungry for overnight success and want to be professionals in the shortest time but the girls will just want to pick up the bat and the ball to go and play. They are always happy to wait for their opportunity to play, without letting the little challenges affect them.”

There are currently four established women cricket teams/clubs in Rwanda; Queens of Victory, Kigali Angels, Charity and White Clouds.

Eric Hirwa, the Cricket Female National Team coach, says that in the earlier days, the girls’ main challenge was their parents granting them permission to play cricket. But that is gradually changing.

“With the development of the sport and the popularity it has gained, we now encounter a few situations or no situations at all where a parent has refused a player to come for training. When the girls master the game, after a few months they make it a point to come for regular training. However transport from their home to the training grounds is the main challenge they currently face,” Hirwa explains.

He encourages parents to let their girls come for training since it helps them improve their skills.

“We currently have about 30-60 girls that can actually attend regional competitions. They are about 15-20 years old and most of them are students. It’s also amazing how the girls learn the game so fast and become very passionate about it. It’s always important for someone to first love the game to actually perfect their skills in the sport,” Hirwa reveals.

According to Hirwa, female cricket teams train every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm in Kicukiro.

US HAILS RWANDA FOR DOUBLE LIFE EXPECTANCY, LOW MATERNAL MORTALITY

The United States has praised the government of Rwanda for its tremendous strides in improving the lives of Rwandans by increasing the rate of life expectancy for its citizens and reducing the maternal mortality.

William J. Burns,

Speaking at the Africa Health Forum in Washington DC on Friday, the US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns said that the country is on track to meet many of the Millenium Development goals despite challenges the country faced after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

In his key note address, the Deputy Secretary of state said that: “Rwanda, a country devastated by genocide less than two decades ago, is today on track to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals – life expectancy has doubled, maternal mortality and annual child deaths more than halved, and deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria have dropped by 80percent.”

The US diplomat went on to thank the current African leadership for the dramatic transformation of the continent.

“We gather here today amidst a dramatic transformation of the African continent from a region once defined largely by its problems, to a region defined increasingly by its possibilities… from a region afflicted by conflict, crisis, and impoverishment to a region known more and more for its economic growth, expanding democratic governance, and enhanced health and human development,” said William J. Burns.

He emphasized that as the continent evolves, and as governments take on greater leadership and responsibility for their own future, the nature of assistance and cooperation from the international community should evolve as well – from a donor-recipient relationship to more of a partnership.

“This partnership – based on principles of country ownership, shared responsibility, and mutual respect – allows donors and partner countries to better meet the needs of the country’s population. Where transparency, good governance, and accountability are enshrined in law and in practice – our joint investments will yield more effective, more efficient, and ultimately more sustainable outcomes.

This is why sustainability and shared responsibility are two foundational principles of President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development and our global health diplomacy strategy.”

The US Deputy secretary of State told delegates that United States commitment to global health is strong, citing President Obama’s budget request for a $1.65 billion contribution to the Global Fund in fiscal year 2014 as US’s historically high level of support.

The Forum was attended by Ministers and representatives of Ministries of Finance and Health over two dozen African countries.

Rwanda is globally hailed for presenting a unique case in development and in the progress towards attaining the MDGs.

 

Rwanda: Awareness Campaign Lowers New HIV Infections

Several HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns by the government and other stakeholders have recorded significant improvement in the reduction of new HIV infections in the country.

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Coordinator of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Care and Treatment Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, who disclosed this at a meeting in Kigali on Wednesday, said the campaigns have been effective that the rate of new infections has gone down compared to the previous years meaning that more Rwandans are aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids.

“The rate of new infections was at 25,000 people every year in Rwanda five years ago, but now it has gone down. We have laid a number of strategies to increase awareness and other protective measures against new HIV infections so we are positive that this rate will go down further,” Dr Nsanzimana said. Every hour, two people get infected with HIV in Rwanda, according to Dr Nsanzimana. This is equivalent to 15,000 new HIV Infections every year, according to the doctor, who called upon those already infected to adhere to the instructions of their anti-retroviral treatment.

Functional HIV cure:

An infant was reportedly cured of HIV as announced recently at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, while French researchers published in the journal PLOS Pathogens that they had been studying 14 people that have been “functionally cured” of HIV.

But Professor Andrew Zolopa, from Stanford University School of Medicine, said those people who got cured had started on their ARVs at least a month after infection and so they started treatment early enough.

Rwanda Is Ninth Fastest Growing Economy Globally

Rwanda will be one of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world this year even as it braves challenges presented by aid cuts.

Last year, Germany, the US, Britain and the EU suspended part of their budget support for this year over allegation that the country was helping M23 rebels in the DR Congo

The Economist, in its latest report on global economic trends for 2013, indicated that Rwanda’s economy would grow at 7.8 per cent this year, making the country the ninth fastest-growing economy in the world and the second-best in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the global ranking of what it terms as ‘the top growers’, the paper has Mongolia, with a projected growth rate of 18.1 per cent, on top of the list followed by Macau at 13.5 per cent. Libya leads in Africa at 12.2 per cent. In sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique is projected to register the highest growth at 8.2 per cent, with Rwanda, which is seen growing; at 7.8 per cent, on its heels.

This projection echoes that of the economic planners at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

The Economist termed Rwanda’s ranking, along with other star performers of the world, as part of a ‘more cheerful segment’ of an otherwise gloomy global economic outlook.

The newspaper also lauded Rwanda as one of the countries that have made tremendous progress over the last 10 years, enabling it to transform its economy towards a service-oriented one.

While reacting to the report, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) acting chief executive officer, Clare Akamanzi, affirmed that the country would this year achieve or even surpass its medium-term plan economic objectives.

“Rwanda’s economy has been on track, growing at over 7 per cent annually; therefore, the fundamentals for achieving this target are already in place. That is why analysts at The Economist and others rank Rwanda highly,” Akamanzi said.

The RDB Chief added: “What is most important for us is to increasingly build our economy’s competitiveness to attract more private sector investments. This is a key input for economic growth. ”

A Ministry of Trade and Industry 2012 preliminary economic performance review shows that the country’s investment rate (the per cent of investment to the gross domestic product – GDP) reached 25 per cent, surpassing the 21 per cent target set earlier.

Another key fundamental was the growth of exports that reached $429m, higher than the $344m targeted. The robust growth of the tourism sector was another factor.

The sector raked-in $263m in the 2011/12 period, exceeding the earlier target of $244m. This was also reflected on strong growth of Rwanda’s services sector.

Although the Central Bank had pegged the inflation rate at 7.5 per cent, it was contained at a commendable 4.6 per cent. Rwanda, The economist noted, achieved a “hat-trick” of rapid growth, sharp poverty reduction and lessened income inequality.

“Because of this, many donors were reluctant to stop or reduce aid, whatever the arguments that came up over the eastern DR Congo saga,” the publications added.

This performance is a good indicator that the suspension of aid would most likely not hurt the country as it continues guiding its economy towards its chosen path of transformation.

“Rwanda, our beautiful and dear country / Adorned of hills, lakes and volcanoes / Motherland, would be always filled of happiness…”

Kagame Pays Last Respects to Late Inyumba

President Paul Kagame has described Aloisea Inyumba, the late Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, as a selfless leader, who was ideologically clear.

“She was a very good cadre and ideologically clear, she was more than just a minister, governor, senator…those are positions that come and go; Inyumba was not just another leader, that’s the difference,” the President told mourners at the Parliamentary Building where the late minister’s body lay in state.

Kagame praised the deceased for her dedicated service during and after the liberation struggle, describing her as a “fearless cadre” of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), who put her life on the line for the good of the liberation movement and country.

The President, who said he first met Inyumba around 1985, eulogized the late minister as a trusted and patriotic cadre who had the ability to cultivate a good working relationship with anyone and bring rivals on the same table.

He said Inyumba’s character symbolized Rwanda’s own experience of perseverance and triumph, and urged the nation to uphold her legacy.

“Today we bid farewell to her body, but her values live on,” Kagame said.

Inyumba succumbed to cancer from her home in Kigali, last Thursday, two weeks after returning from a hospital in Germany.

After her first stint in Cabinet, Inyumba went on to serve as the Executive Secretary for the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (1999-2001), during which time the country was going through a critical phase of truth-telling, reconciliation and healing – from the Genocide and its after-effects.

During that period, she actively spearheaded a national adoption campaign to place Genocide orphans in homes.

Later, she was appointed the governor of the Kigali Ngali province before joining the country’s inaugural Senate in 2004, and in May 2011 reappointed to Cabinet.

She spent her last days urging the public to adopt children from orphanages and to raise them as their own, with the view of phasing out orphanages.

The President talked of how he practically forced Inyumba to take medical leave after she had insisted on accomplishing certain official responsibilities.

Mourners formed a long line to view the body of the late minister in a casket draped in national colours, before they headed to Christian Life Assembly (CLA) church for funeral service ahead of burial at Rusororo cemetery in Gasabo District.

Earlier, Cabinet Affairs minister Protais Musoni eulogized Inyumba on behalf of those who had worked with the fallen minister over the years, as did the central bank vice governor and chairperson of Unity Club (association of current and former senior leaders and their spouses), Monique Nsanzabaganwa.

They both described her as a heroine, and exceptional and charismatic leader, who will be dearly missed.

Inyumba is survived by a husband (Richard Masozera, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority) and two children, aged 15 (girl) and 10 (boy).

Rwanda’s HIV Infection Rate Down 50 Percent – UNAIDS

Twenty five low- and middle-income countries, including Rwanda, have managed to halve their rate of new HIV infections since 2001, UNAIDS said in its annual report on the state of the global pandemic.

The UN body’s World AIDS Day Report 2012 shows that in the last ten years, the landscape of national HIV epidemics has changed dramatically, for the better in most countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Countries are making historic gains towards ending the AIDS epidemic: 700,000 fewer new HIV infections across the world in 2011 than in 2001, it says.

Rwanda, Gabon, and Togo, are some of the countries which achieved significant declines of more than 50%, according to the report.

“We are moving from despair to hope,” Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in Geneva, pointing out that around half of all reductions in new HIV infections in the past two years had been among children.

“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” he said.

Globally, new HIV infections fell to 2.5 million last year from 2.6 million in 2010 and represented a 20-percent drop from 2001, according to UNAIDS.

“The pace of progress is quickening. What used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” Sidibe said.

Particular progress had been made in bringing down the number of children newly infected with HIV.

Last year, 330,000 children worldwide were infected with the virus that causes AIDS, down from 370,000 in 2010, and 43 percent fewer than in 2003.

And in sub-Saharan Africa — a region that is today home to 90 percent of the world’s infected youngsters — the number of children newly infected with the virus dropped by 24 percent between 2009 and 2011 alone.

Sub-Saharan Africa has cut the number of people dying of AIDS-related causes by 32% between 2005 and 2011.

In 2011, 1.7 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide — down 24 percent from 2005 and nearly six percent below the 2010 level, according to the report released ahead of this year’s World AIDS Day marked on December 1.