Rwanda World Science Day 2013

RUGO Chairman, Mike Hughes addressing audience

Karambi Ladies Introducing their work

Ceclile Demonstrating Solar Equipment

Home Owner outside his Solar Powered House

Delegates travelled from Kigali to Karambi and visited the installation in Karambi before travelling onto Batima. There were speeches in Batima from: the Rwandan Ministry, UNESCO, Safer Rwanda (the NGO involved with the Batima project), RUGO and the Mayor of Bugesera. Transport was provided so that the ladies from Karambi and Ruhengeri were able to join the visits, speeches and the gathering with refreshments.

Mike Hughes, Chairman of RUGO delivered a speech to those present at Batima :

“I thank the organisors of today’s event for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of RUGO and our Solar Project in Karambi Village.

RUGO was established in 1997 by Rwandan’s living in UK and British friends of Rwanda living in UK with the mission to support:

–       “education and training of the people of Rwanda and the relief of poverty, sickness and distress, through the provision and support of community based projects”

Two of our foremost supporters at the outset of RUGO were Lillian Wong the first British Ambassador to Rwanda and her husband Robert Wong with the encouragement and support of our Patron Baroness Lynda Chalker, and the Rwandan Ambassador to UK at that time H.E. Zac Nsenga.

One of the main initial projects for RUGO was to work with the Ministry of Education in the equipping of the Technical school in Nyamata now known as ETO Nyamata. The members of RUGO chose to work with the people of Bugesera District because of the extreme tragedy that befell them before and during the Genocide of 1994.

When RUGO was looking for the next project to support that would really make a difference to the rural people in Bugesera we were fortunate to make the acquaintance of Bunker Roy who is a truly inspirational figure. He told us about the Barefoot solar engineers project which is designed to train rural ladies solar electrify their village. By living in the village themselves the ladies are in a position to ensure that once the houses in the village are electrified they will be on hand to repair any faults as they arise, together with the addition of a small monthly contribution from the villagers, this makes the solar project truly sustainable.

Some of the aims of providing solar lights to households in the village include: help children study in the evening, mothers to do handicraft, people to walk safely outside in the evening and to avoid fire danger hazards which are present through the use of candles or kerosene lamps.

You may have seen our project poster which is displayed in the workshop at Karambi village which highlights that RUGO had the daunting task of raising more than 30,000 pounds, which is the equivalent of over 30M Rwanda Franks, to provide the solar equipment for the village.

I also stress that RUGO supporters in UK are not any rich corporations or organisations but comprise well wishers from very ordinary walks of life. Supporters held coffee mornings with their family friends and neighbours to raise funds to solar electrify individual house, larger fund raising events were organised such as the Open Garden Concert held at the home of our very great supporters Steve and Linda Wells, and many very generous individual donations from people who are too numerous to mention and include the Cook family and Allan Marsden who has generously supported RUGO for very many years. Alun Cope-Morgan developed the RUGO web site to raise donations and inform people about the project and project progress and Alex Morton helped manage the finances, ensured the money was effectively spent and again kept spreading the news to inform and entice support.

When the fund raising in UK was well underway the village community of Karambi selected the four ladies who showed you around this morning, Claudine, Odette, Dative, and Cecile. The four ladies who had never travelled outside Kigali were given tickets by the Government of India to study for six months in the Barefoot College in Northern India. They learnt in a spoken language they did not understand through sign language, shapes, colours etc. Etc. and the result of their determination is demonstrated by the success you have witnessed in the visit today.

It therefore falls to me to acknowledge and thank the many people who have made this project a great success, the vision and support of Bunker Roy and the Barefoot College, the Government of India, the many supporters of RUGO in UK who worked tirelessly to support the fund raising effort, the Rwanda Women’s Network through Jackie who helped us with logistics on the ground, the great support of both the Sector of Nyamata and the District of Bugesera, especially the Mayor of Bugesera Louis Rwagaju, the supporters of RUGO in Rwanda including Connie and Kasper Kundert who provided the photographs and Geographic coordinates of all the houses in Karambi, Louise Medland, Noella and Marie-Paul, who helped on the ground in Karambi and with the fund raising effort, the support of the people of Karambi village especially the leader of the Imidugudu Eugene and most especially to the four ladies who have shown what is possible with belief, strength and determination.

I thank the Ministry of Education, through the Director General of Science, Technology and Research for organising this celebration around these remarkable projects which have shown what can be achieved by exploiting the talents of rural women to develop their community and country and truly demonstrate the potential of the 2012 World Science Day theme of “Sustainable Energy for All”.

Click here for more information on UNESCO World Science Day

The Rwandan Ministry of Education web site also has a story on the event in the Kinyarwanda language with the Karambi ladies photo included in the site banner and the article itself here

Cecile talking about the Karambi Project

Visitors looking at RUGO display

Cecile and Dative showing Solar Equipment

Inside Home Owners Solar Powered House