Africa-Press – Rwanda. Residents of different sectors in Rubavu District are deeply delighted by the assistance and support extended to them by the Red Cross Society of Rwanda especially in aiding those that were affected by disasters.
In May 2021, the Nyiragongo Volcanic Mountain located in Congo erupted and left the residents of Rubavu in a miserable situation. Infrastructure, including houses, and roads were destroyed.
Jean Paul Uwiringiyimana, a resident of Bugeshi Sector in Rubavu District told Taarifa that previously, there is a lot in their day to day lives that they were not paying attention to but this has since changed.
He says that Red Cross has not only supported them with basic needs, it has also trained them on how to ensure proper sanitation in their places of residence, having vegetable gardens as well as handwashing facilities.
‘’The place we are settled in is one that yields a lot of agricultural produce but many people didn’t know how to prepare meals from our harvests,” he says, “but now we have been trained on how we are supposed to prepare meals out of our own produce.’’
Previously, there would be a lot of harvests such as vegetables and irish potatoes but instead of making nutritious meals for the family, they would instead sell them off leaving the family malnourished, inviting diseases such as kwashiorkor. Other diseases resulting from malnutrition were so common.
Jacquiline Tuyambaze, also a resident in the area, says that they used to eat a mixture of beans and irish potatoes and felt they have done their best to have a balanced diet.
‘’However, after the intervention of the Red Cross, we have learnt that a balanced diet consists of three types of food; carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins…we used to think of having all the three food types in one sitting as something really hard and expensive but we have since learnt that we can actually get all the food types from the crops that we grow ourselves,’’ she says.
On hygiene, she says, “we have learnt that we must wash our hands with clean water and soap every time we are going to eat, after visiting the latrines… we are now living healthier lives.’’ They also boil water for drinking, a practice they have learnt with the help of the Red Cross.
Training Residents on the saving culture.
Besides training the residents on ensuring proper hygiene and eating a balanced diet, the Red Cross advised the residents to develop a saving culture through saving groups.
Anastase Hitiyaremye, who is a member of the ‘’Duharanire Ubuzima Bwiza’’ Saving Group located in Bereshi Village in Bugeshi Sector, says that since they began saving in the Saving Group, he has seen its benefit to him personally and his family because there is no case where he can be in need of small amounts of money and he fails to get it.
‘’We have so far saved a total of Rwf 123,500. We are planning on buying animals such as goats, sheep, pigs among others which will be of great importance to our homes including providing manure,” he says.
As for Andre Nsengiyumva , he knew nothing about saving but after receiving training sessions from the Red Cross, he has had a change in his financial discipline.
He says, ‘’Previously, I used to harvest a lot of irish potatoes and I would get a lot of money but since we had no saving culture, all the money would be wasted in worthless ventures such as buying alcohol for my friends but now there is a certain amount of money that I save weekly as a must in our Saving Group.’’
Construction of modern handwashing facilities in schools
Handwashing is one of the measures that was put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and it was noted that a number of schools in Rubavu District had issues of putting in place handwashing facilities for students.
Emmanuel Habiyaremye, the Headteacher of Gitebe II Primary and Secondary school says that the school has a total of 1,171 students who have to share just two handwashing facilities that are manually filled with water every now and then by a school employee and every jerrycan costs Rwf 100.
He says that a lot of efforts had to be applied in order for the students to be able to get water to wash their hands because there is no water source in the neighborhood. It would cost the school Fwf 800,000 to cover a distance of 300 meters and the school doesn’t have that amount of money.
The Red Cross has since built them twelve modern washing facilities and the budget that had been allocated to buying water for the students to be able to wash their hands has now been diverted to construction of a kitchen where meals for the students will be prepared from.
Bazaramwiranande Jean Damascene, Headteacher of Pfunda Primary and Secondary School shares the same vies with his counterpart from Gitebe II school as he says that currently, his school has a total of 1.154 and there is an expected increase in the number by around 300 students next year. Other schools in the district are receiving the same assistance.
Assistance to residents neighboring River Sebeya
Among the many beneficiaries of the Red Cross were the disadvantaged persons whose houses were renovated after they were destroyed by River Sebeya which normally floods and destroys people’s homes.
Maniteze Venatie says that her house was destroyed by the river and she was left homeless. Well-wishers accommodated her until the Red Cross offered her iron sheets and cement to construct a new house. She also received food assistance because floods had destroyed her gardens and she had nothing to eat.
In other activities, the Red Cross has a team of volunteers that was trained them with rescuing and first aid skills. In 2020, this team helped in recovering the bodies of a boat accident in Lake Kivu on DRC side.
Emmanuel Mazimpaka, the Red Cross Head of Communication, Fundraising and Humanitarian Diplomacy Department says that they are pleased with their efforts because they can see that the livelihoods of people in Rubavu District have been uplifted.
“’It is not only in Rubavu Distric, where we have built the modern hand-washing facilities. We have done this in 62 schools around the country and this has cost over Rwf 200 million,” he says.
“Red Cross as a government partner, our role is to help the citizens that have been affected by natural disasters or war as well as improving the livelihoods of the disadvantaged.’’ The Red Cross is also involved in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic through its awareness campaigns as well as helping over 7000 homes get food.
The Vice Mayor of Rubavu District in charge of Welfare, Ishimwe Pacifique , said that the Red Cross has continued to be a very outstanding partner in solving the issues of the residents which include flooding of River Sebeya, the strong winds from the volcanoes, which destroy houses and gardens of residents, Covid-19 and the recent Nyiragongo Volcanic eruptions. She said, ‘’The Red Cross is a very important partner in Rubavu District because of what it has done.”