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"In Rwanda we do a type of community work known as Umuganda"
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"In Rwanda we do a type of community work known as Umuganda"

This year rainy season in Rwanda has been especially deadly. It has seen floods wash away crops, destroy houses and claim lives. But it has also brought out the best in the community, writes David Masengesho, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kigali.

It is usual that on every last Saturday of the month people in Rwanda get together to perform a type of community work known as  “Umuganda”.

They combine their efforts to do something for the good of the entire community, like cleaning an area, building some infrastructure or looking after the environment.

Community work or “Umuganda” happens at least once a month.

On Saturday, May 19, many Rwandans in different areas of the country got together for the purpose of fighting disasters.

Rainy season this year has been so dangerous that floods washed away crops, destroyed houses and some people lost their lives. As a result it was decided that we needed to go even further than usual in our Umuganda.

In addition to the usual monthly community work, it was deemed necessary to have performed special community work twice during the week of 14-20 May – once on Wednesday, May 16th and other on Saturday, May 19th.

The Saturday was special because staff of both state and private institutions were instructed to go to the most hilly parts of the countryside near Kigali to take part.

On Mount Jali, in Gasabo District, officials from the ministries of finance, defence, national policy, internal security, energy, water and sanitation gathered with National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda staff in a mountain forest.

There each individual helped build trenches to divert rain water and overcome the soil erosion which had previously caused the flooding of the Nyabugogo river in the suburbs of Kigali city.

Community work is a good opportunity for local leaders to bring all community members together. It mobilizes them to take part in the development of the country.

In this way, the people were able to overcome future disasters which might destroy existing infrastructure like housing and roads.

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About me:

“I work as intern/trainer at Digital Opportunity Trust Rwanda in its Reach Up! program where I deliver a livelihood, ICT and business training course to community participants. I work as research assistant at the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department.

“I am passionate about empowering communities and have been involved in different community development activities such as gender equality, women empowerment, youth advocacy, climate change and. I like networking, travelling, meeting different people of diverse backgrounds and exploring different cultures.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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