Category archives for: Rwanda

Rwanda Scoops International Coffee Award

By Nduta Waweru

#GoodMorningAfrica from Rwanda, which received one of the 2017 international coffee awards. The land of a thousand hills received the 2017 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award at a ceremony in New York, USA.

The land of a thousand hills received the 2017 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award at a ceremony in New York, USA.

Jean Bosco Ngabonziza of Rusizi Coffee Washing Station won the first place for “a medium full-bodied coffee with a balanced flavour. Strong caramel notes, toasted bread is mixed with a sight coffee chocolate aftertaste.”

Tumwamini Ndamwerema Jean Paul and Faustin Nhzabarakize of Liza and Mashehsa Coffee washing station respectively came in second and third place.

Rwanda’s ambassador to the United Nations Valentine Rugwabiza received the award on behalf of the winners.

Read: Model Villages for the poor of Rwanda

Rwandan dark roast coffee beans. Photo: Wiki/ Creative commons/Evan-Amos

The win comes at the time when Rwanda’s National Agricultural Exports Board and stakeholders started a countrywide campaign to distribute more than 4,700 tonnes of fertilisers to coffee farmers. The move is geared towards increasing coffee production and export. The board is working together with the Coffee Exporters and Processors Association of Rwanda (CEPAR) to ensure that all farmers enjoy the benefits of the project.

Coffee is one of the contributors to the country’s agricultural exports at 24 per cent over the last decade.

Just last month, the board is also running another campaign to boost coffee production and consumption. The head of the board, Dr Celestin Gatarayiha said the sensitisation will make the over 400,000 farmers in Rwanda embrace good agricultural and post-harvest practices that will not only increase productivity and enhance the quality of their coffee.

The plan is to increase domestic consumption to contribute towards stabilising the price fluctuations in the global market.

#Rwanda awarded at the 2nd Ernesto Illy Int’l Coffee Award @UN.Award recognizes top quality growers of the best coffee beans across the 🌎 pic.twitter.com/oQ9Jh4grRk

– Mission of Rwanda UN (@RwandaUN) October 16, 2017

In July, the board partnered with Japan International Cooperation Agency to send coffee experts to train local sector stakeholders on how to enhance the production and marketing of coffee.

The Ernesto Illy awards has 27 contestants from different countries including Nicaragua, India, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Brazil. The annual award by the Illy Family recognises three best coffee from these countries and celebrates individual players who make the Illy espresso blend possible.

Jose Abelardo Diaz Enamorado from Honduras won the Best of the Best and Coffee Lovers Award, as determined by blind consumer tastings.

The top scoring coffees from each of the nine countries will be made available at select Illy retail locations.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

By Elisee Mpirwa

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young basketball players around the country to harness raw talent.

In an interview with Times Sport, Ruhezamihigo said he wants to help the next generation of players get basic skills of the game, and also popularise basketball across the country.

The 32-year-old shooting guard, who plays for Canada’s New Direction, was part of the national basketball team that took part in the FIBA Afrobasket tourney in Tunisia.

“It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do for the love and passion of the game, as well as teaching the next generation what I know in order to provide them with more opportunities to reach their goals and become better human beings,” he said.

The programme, dubbed HR Training, targets different age groups especially at the grassroots. Young boys between the ages of 5-8, 8-11 and 12-18 will benefit from the programme. They also intend to approach the under 16s and under 18s national teams, both the boys and girls teams.

“I have two professional basketball coaches on my team from Canada. Last year I was assisted by a couple of local coaches. This time around it was my friend and teammate Lionnel Hakizimana with whom I share the same passion and vision,” he added.

“Last summer we had clinics with three different groups including the boys’ under 18 national team at Amahoro indoor stadium. The clinic we just did was at New Life Christian Academy in Kayonza with the girls and boys teams,” he added.

Former Most Valuable Player (MVP) Lionel Hakizimana who last season joined champions Patriots Basketball Club from rivals Espoir BBC says that they are committed to even use their own money to fund the programme as they source for sponsorship.

“The funding for these clinics comes from fundraising from family and friends, and personal investments. HR Training is looking for sponsors and potential partnership in order to grow the project bigger across the country,”

Hakizimana who last played for the national team in 2014 clarified that he has not retired from the national side and will be available if the coach selects him.

Rwanda

Private Sector Calls for More Investment in Energy Generation

Private Sector Federation (PSF) is looking forward to more investment in energy generation that can satisfy consumer… Read more »

Private Sector Calls for More Investment in Energy Generation

By Eddie Nsabimana

Private Sector Federation (PSF) is looking forward to more investment in energy generation that can satisfy consumer demand and force prices down.

Speaking at a meeting with the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance on the role of interconnection lines to Rwanda’s economic development, Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairperson of PSF, said there is need for increased investment in energy generation.

“Rwanda’s energy sector has enormous investment potential but we are still planning how to attract more investors in the sector to satisfy the electricity demand, especially from manufacturers, and also make energy affordable,” he said.

Rwanda’s current energy coverage stands at 40.7 per cent (208 megawatts), including 29.7 per cent on-grid electricity and 11 per cent of off-grid energy. Private sector contribution stands at 52 per cent.

‘Banks uninterested’

Gasamagera said commercial banks are reluctant to support power generation projects because they lack the expertise to determine the quality and potential of energy project proposals.

“We are trying to to work with the local banks to develop their capacity to analyse proposals from the energy sector. We also plan to approach foreign banks on big energy projects. It is something that needs to be quickly addressed,” he said.

The PSF chair said there is no reason why local banks should hesitate to invest in energy sector as long as the local manufacturing sector continues to grow and secondary cities development remain on course.

“There are many development activities that will need to use electricity. I am sure that electricity cannot fail to get market,” he said.

High cost of electricity

The latest electricity tariff, that came into force on January 1, has consumers with large industries pay Rwf83 per kilowatt, those with medium industries Rwf90 per kilowatt, while the small industries pay Rwf126 per kilowatt.

However, manufacturers argue that the costs are still high.

On the issue, Senator Celestin Sebuhoro told the media: “It seems energy generation is still problematic since manufacturers complain of power shortage, whose prices, too, seem not affordable, and this might be affecting the market. We want to bring energy body [Rwanda Energy Group – REG] and private sector together so they can discuss on the issue.”

Challenges

Some of the challenges raised by the private sector, especially power investment players, include high import taxes on solar power materials, which is currently at 25 per cent, sudden cancellation of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed between REG and investors, bureaucratic PPA registration process, among others.

Edward Ndayisaba, the vice-chairperson of Energy Private Developer, said, “Sudden cancellation of PPA causes huge losses to investors while those who want to invest in the sector wait for long to be cleared.”

He said most of them are discouraged by the long process it takes to finalise PPA, which they said sometimes take up to two years.

Gasamagera said the private sector cannot deal with all the challenges on their own, but since “the senators are well aware of our challenges, we hope for advocacy to help us find a sustainable solution.”

Taekwondo Team Eye Olympic Games Qualification

By Jejje Muhinde

The Rwanda Para-Taekwondo men and female players are keen on qualifying for the 2020 Japan Olympic Games by winning medals at the World Taekwondo Championship Games that start today at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Although Team Rwanda is taking part in the games for the first time, they will be bolstered by the fact that they dominated the African Para-Taekwondo Open, which was held in Rwanda in March where the team won six medals, (2 gold, 3 silver and I bronze).

Before departing for London on Tuesday, head Coach Allain Bagire Irene told Time Sport that winning medals at the world meet will qualify the team for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“Winning medals at this tournament will not only give us a ticket to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but will also improve Rwanda’s world rankings,” Bagire said.

Team Rwanda has six players including one female. They include: Jean Marie Vienne Bizumuremyi, Jean Claude Niriringiyimana, Jean la Croix Nikwigize, Eriel Tuyishime, Jean Pierre Imanirakiza and Consolée Rukundo (female).

London won the right to host the World Para-Taekwondo Championship early this year- the first time Britain will be staging the prestigious tournament.

The event will include Kyorugi competitions in the K40 sports classes as well as Poomsae competition in the P20 and P30 sports classes.

In addition, the competitions for the P20 sports class for intellectually impaired athletes will be seeded based on the ranking system. Samsun in Turkey hosted the last World Championships in September 2015.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

Global Hotel Brands in Rwanda Report Returns on Investment

By Collins Mwai

Over the course of the last year, a number of international hotel brands made inroads into the Rwandan market validating the country’s ambition of becoming a conference hub.

The brands include The Marriott, Radisson Blu, Park Inn, Wilderness Safaris and Golden Tulip.

Prior to the entrance of the brands, there had been some doubts on the profitability of the high end hospitality sector given that Rwanda is considered a ‘small market.’

However, the brands say that, contrary to such perception, Kigali has turned out to be profitable largely due to efforts to market the country as a destination as well as the Meeting, Incentives and Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) initiative.

Alex Kyriakidis, the president for Middle East and Africa for Marriott International, told The New Times that for the one year they have been operating in the country, they have had returns on their investments.

“The experience for Marriott in Rwanda from day one has been amazing. It has been one of the most fruitful relationship in Africa for us. We are doing well one year into the business and (are already enjoying fair share of the market). As a result of which, we are committed to the market and looking for greater opportunities,” he explained.

Last year, the tourism sector raked in about $404 million, with the MICE initiative bringing in about $47 million.

According to Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at Rwanda Development Board, a total of 32 major conferences were held last year with the number expected to grow further this year.

“Last year, Rwanda hosted 32 major conferences, hosting about 32,500 delegates. MICE initiative generated about $47 million, while this year, conferences have so far raked in about $35 million,” Kariza said.

Radisson Blu Hotel, owned by Rezidor Hotel Group, have also had a good year so far and has been able to surpass some of its competitors in terms of market share.

Andrew McLachlan, the senior vice president in charge of business development in Africa and Indian Ocean at the Group, said their indexes show a lot of progress so far.

“We measure something called revenue generation index, which means that if you get 100 per cent, you get significant market share. We get about 180, meaning that we get 80 per cent more market share than competitors. We are happy with performance,” he said.

McLachlan projects that the performance will go higher especially for major conferences given that they have received some bookings for conferences to be held in three years.

“Some of the booking happens within a four-year window. We can see an increase in bookings for major conferences. We are the third busiest conference centre in Africa at the moment. We can see others worried about our competitiveness. We are in the ramp up phase,” McLachlan said.

Among some of the major challenges that dogged the local market when the major players were setting up shop in the country was the shortage of a pool of qualified personnel to run the sector.

This had seen trends of high labour mobility within the sector as well as some establishments incurring high costs in training staff.

In the case of Radisson Blu, when they opened, about 97 per cent of their workforce did not have any experience working in the hotel business.

McLachlan said this has been addressed through in-house training and a year into the market they are happy with the skills levels.

“When we opened we had 97 per cent of staff who had never worked in a hotel before. We are happy with how they have progressed,” he said.

Partnership with local firm

For Marriot Hotel, the hurdle was jumped by partnering with a local institution, Akilah Women Institute, that train young women professionals in the sector.

Kyriakidis said this was done by bringing in experienced staff from some of their hotels from across the world to transfer skills to locals.

“When we invested we had an understanding that we would like to have a majority of local staff. When you start in a new country and have to train a team, you need many expatriate supervisors to oversee skills transfer. Today, if you look at the mature markets we are in, 99.9 per cent of jobs are given to locals,” he said.

Previously, the hospitality sector had been found to have high revenue leakages resulting from heavy importation of supplies and inputs from outside the country.

A significant section of inputs used in the sector were imported which could see more value retained in the country.

A report by UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has previously shown that there were low levels of local produce used in the local tourism industry, consequently leading to financial leakages.

However, that is fast changing as brands like Marriott have begun working with small- and medium enterprises with a positive bias toward female entrepreneurs.

“We deliberately skew towards doing more business with small to medium enterprises, particularly those that are run by women. Most of them can easily meet standards and we help them over time. Our clients are happy with their input,” Kyriakidis said.

McLachlan said they have been working to build local supply chains as opposed to imports, noting that local suppliers are making significant improvements.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, the senior vice-president for development in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Hilton Group, said the ongoing investment in infrastructure as well as the expansion of tourism attractions have added to international hotels’ confidence in the local market.

RwandAir deputy chief executive in charge of corporate affairs, Yvonne Makolo, said the continued expansion of the national carrier to the current 23 destination and 12 aircraft is further expected to boost the performance of the hospitality sector

High Court to Rule on Bail Petition for Terror Group Suspects Next Week

By Elisee Mpirwa

The High Court in Kigali has started examining the basis of appeal by seven men and one woman who are accused of forming an irregular armed group.

All defendants claim to be members of FDU-Inkingi, an unregistered political party in the country.

Two weeks ago, the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court had remanded the group for 30 days pending further investigations.

They are Papias Ndayishimiye, Gratien Nsabiyaremye, Evode Mbarushimana, Leonille Gasengayire, Norbert Ufitamahoro, Boniface Twagirimana, Fabien Twagirayezu and Erneste Nkiko.

The same court also released another suspect.

Appearing in court on Tuesday, the suspects argued that the decision of the judge in the lower court did not take into consideration their arguments, insisting that they were illegally arrested.

The presiding judge set October 24 as the date to rule on the bail application.

Earlier, Boniface Twagirimana, said to be the vice president of FDU-Inkingi, said prosecution had lied to the lower court when it said that he provided money to fund recruits who joined an armed group in DR Congo, including some of his co-accused.

Leonille Gasengayire, another suspect, maintained that she is innocent, telling court that she had been in jail before when she came out and did not flee the country.

Gasengayire told court her only involvement in the case was to get money to buy foodstuff for their incarcerated president Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, adding that the money was not meant to fund those going to join the armed group calling itself P5.

Meanwhile, Papias Ndayishimiye and Norbert Ufitamahoro, who had earlier admitted to have been arrested while heading to DR Congo to join P5, changed their statement at the High Court claiming they confessed under duress.

The group prayed court to critically examine their case.

Defence counsel Antoinette Mukamusoni challenged prosecution to explain why they only brought her clients to court yet their allegations indicate that the famous P5 is a coalition of some political parties, including some working inside the country.

However, prosecution denied claims of illegal detention and search at the suspects’ residences, asking court to uphold remand for the suspects as investigations are still ongoing.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

UR Graduate’s Shoe-Making Project Gives Hope to Vulnerable

opinionBy Frederic Byumvuhore

A fresh graduate from University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology has started a shoe-making project, and it is not only giving her livelihood but also turning around the lives of several vulnerable women she has taken under her wings.

Ahirwe Freedom Samantha started Posh Creative Ltd in line with Made-in-Rwanda spirit and has been embracing underprivileged women aged 39-60 who are also employees in the project.

The 22-year-old graduated recently with a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction (Civil Engineering), but had started making shoes using thread in April.

Ahirwe’s family lives in Gasabo but she works from Rusheshe Sector, Kicukiro District, where she trains and empowers the women she works with.

Ahirwe dreamt of becoming a job creator once she completed her studies and, in the shoe-making project, she seeing something of her life dream come true.

“I am proud of completing my studies in Civil Engineering. I liked the career, but this did not stop me from thinking other ways to invest my potential. The knowledge I got from school is the foundation,” she said.

Starting the project

Ahirwe’s dreams seemed to come true after a three-month internship in the US last year. From earnings from the intership, Ahirwe acquired primary materials to start making shoes. She started with Rwf700,000.

“In my vision, I would study with purpose of starting something which would not benefit me alone but also needy people in society. I wanted to reach out to rural women whose lives were underprivileged. When I started out, I encouraged women to join the project to make themselves self-reliant by harnessing their potential,” she said.

Women were trained on how to make shoes and, after two months, they were able to produce more shoes.

Today, Ahirwe works with six women but her vision is to increase the number so that more could benefit from the project.

“This is the right time to explore everything to find out things that we are good at. I had a vision to help unlock people’s potential and help them develop it,” she added.

Besides shoes, the project makes handicraft such as handbags and babies’ garments. A pair of shoes costs Rwf12,000.

Empowering women

“I visited Rusheshe and found that women there were not financially stable. I decided to bring the project closer to them so that I can help them escape from such vulnerability,” she said.

Ahirwe found a trainer to work with.

“Women are the backbone of any family when they are left out there is no development at all. I am happy to see the lives of these women improving since they joined the project. They joined savings groups and are now self-reliant,” she said.

Placidia Murekatete, a trainer, said the initiative had financially empowered them.

Scooping expo award

Ahirwe was awarded the youngest innovator and second best exhibitor in handcraft during the recently concluded Rwanda International Trade Fair in Kigali.

She was supported by National Youth Council, which helped her get a stand at the expo to showcase her unique products.

At the expo, Ahirwe said she received many clients who liked her products.

“A chance to feature in the exhibition came with more opportunities. At least 100 pairs of shoes were exhibited. We received local and foreign buyers. People from Switzerland bought our products promising us to buy more later,” she said.

Ahirwe said she was contracted to promote Made in Rwanda online.

She encourages Rwandans to champion use of locally-made products and support people who are engaged in Made-in-Rwanda efforts.

“If Rwandans do not promote locally-made products, no one will,” Ahirwe said. She advises the youth to discover their strengths beyond their specialties in school.

“The youth, especially graduates, believe in their degrees, which deters them from thinking about other opportunities. They have potential but they can’t see it. My future plan is to work hard, expand my project and make my products more visible in the region and beyond,” she said.

Concert to Honour Reggae Icon Lucky Dube

Photo: Youtube

Lucky Dube.

By Moses Opobo

Legendary South African reggae music icon Lucky Dube will be remembered in Kigali at a special tribute concert in his honor on Saturday.

The concert at the Root House in Kacyiru will feature Burundian reggae act Adjobalove alongside the Jah Image Band.

October 18th will mark ten years since Dube was shot by gunmen in an apparent carjacking attempt in Johannesburg, South Africa as he dropped off one of his children at his brother’s house. He was aged 43 at the time. Shortly after, he crashed his car into a tree and died on the spot.

At the time of his death, Lucky Dube was South Africa’s biggest selling reggae musician, having recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period. He is also credited for bringing African reggae to the mainstream.

Accompanying Adjobalove and the Jah Image Band will be a slew of local guest artists; Natty Dread, 2T Reggae Artist, Nkombozi, and Vero Candy.

“He (Lucky Dube) was an idolized reggae artist loved by millions around the world. His music legacy is immense and his contribution in popularizing African reggae to the world is only equated by the likes of Alpha Blondy,” explained DJ Eric Soul, the co-founder of The Root House.

In Rwanda, fans of the reggae icon last saw him in 2000, at a sold out concert at the Amahoro National Stadium.

Adjobalove and the Jah Image Band started their musical journeys in Bujumbura, Burundi in the early 2000s. They soon built a name for themselves with their tight renditions of reggae classics spiced with their own original compositions.

They went on to release a number of popular politically conscious tracks such as Igihekizobabwira and Fatumwanya, touring Burundi and the region with their messages of peace and love.

The show kicks off at 5:00 pm and runs till 11:00 pm.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

New E-Commerce Platforms to Be Unveiled Today

By Joan Mbabazi

Efforts to promote a cashless culture in the country will be boosted after the launch of two new e-commerce solutions that have been developed by local tech innovators this evening. Two Rwandan companies – StreamUpBox and Ifeza Florists – will also launch a third product targeting the hospitality sector to guide people especially visitors where they can find restaurants, cafes or WiFi, among others.

The three products were developed under a three-month Rwanda Build accelerator programme hosted at Impact Hub Kigali’s co-working space.

“Each team wrote every line of code for their product… So, the software is 100 per cent Made-in-Rwanda by Rwandans,” Robert Rickard, from the Rwanda Build programme, said in a statement yesterday. However, the teams were helped during the project development phase and offered support and mentorship on business needs. The projects are self-funded.

“The goal of the programme is to help create a better culture of software development in Rwanda,” Rickard explained.

About the plaftorms

The three solutions that will be launched this evening at Impact Hub are YegoBox, a Rwanda cloud file storage solution that supports website hosting. It also supports e-commerce solutions using their YegoBox payment option and database support.

“It’s a great solution for anyone that needs to keep their confidential files in the country, on local servers and is more reliable for Rwandans as the servers are housed by Kigali data centres,” the official said of the app developed by the StreamUpBox.

Ifeza Florists, the second software built by Yvette Michelle Nigihozo of Ifeza Florists, is an e-commerce platform that offers payment options for mobile money and VISA. It also has an online market where people can order for fresh flowers, bouquets, and gifts and they are delivered to their loved ones around Kigali.

The third platform, Hello Kigali for Android, is a Kigali city “discovery guide for restaurants, cafes, WiFi and more”.

“With its WiFi indicator, it is perfect for anyone who is new in Kigali and seeking the best restaurants and cafes to visit and work from,” said Abdoul Ruhumuriza, a StreamUpBox developer.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

Meet Mcfarlane, a Rape Victim on a Mission to End Sexual Violence

opinionBy Sharon Kantengwa

18 years ago, Claire McFarlane was brutally raped and left for dead on the streets of Paris.

What followed for the 39-year-old was a long journey to seek justice that only came to an end in October 2015, almost a decade later, after a DNA match identified the attacker.

However, her dreams of pursuing an arts course in France were shattered and she moved back to Australia. McFarlane is of South African and Australian origin. The ordeal inspired her to start an initiative to fight sexual violence.

“When someone rapes you, they take away your dignity and self-love. I learnt to be happy with myself and respect myself again,” she says.

On July 18, 2016, McFarlane began her journey of running 16 kilometres around a beach in every country of the world to raise awareness and support for survivors of sexual violence. Her initiative ‘Footsteps to Inspire’ is about peaceful dialogue and a positive vision of change.

“What forced me to talk about the rape was that they caught him 10 years later and so I had to face it again through the legal system that required me to go through all the details.

“It was not a good experience going through the details but it broke my silence. I’ve since realised that through sharing my own story of survival, I can inspire and help others,” she says during the interview.

She sold everything in her possession to raise enough money to get started on the journey and is currently doing this completely alone, with hope to make a small difference in the world.

“It is very rare to get a rape victim to talk openly about their experience, also because it involves a healing process which is too much for them. But for me, I have really moved through it and have had a chance to heal and so I feel comfortable answering any questions,” she says.

McFarlane travels to different countries every seven to ten days and the global beach run will take five years to complete. In each country, she links with local communities, organisations, government institutions and sexual violence victims to share stories and understand what the issues, complexities and hopes are around sexual violence.

“Some join me as I run 16 kilometres barefoot along a stretch of beach. I will continue doing this until I have run in every country,” she says.

Why sport for dialogue?

In every country that McFarlane goes to, she runs on the shores of a waterbody where well-wishers are free to join her in the run.

“I’ve chosen to use a very different medium to talk about sexual violence that is adventure, travel and sport. Sport unites us and often brings people together to stand for something they believe in. It is also empowering and important for the healing process,” she says.

According to her, water also takes her out of the city to rural areas where ‘the issues are strongest.’

“I find running a very relaxed way to talk in a non-confrontational way and it’s been a very nice space to start a dialogue and find men, women and children involved and giving others the courage,” she adds.

Running in Gisenyi, Rwanda

On October 8, this year, McFarlane run along the shores of Lake Kivu. Rwanda is her 29th country overall and second in East Africa after Kenya.

She was in the company of 10 other Rwandans, who she reached out to through social media platforms and shared her story and they had an open dialogue about sexual violence in Rwanda.

Her visit in Gisenyi also involved speaking to different organisations, visiting hospitals and the Isange One Stop Centre.

“That the government has the agenda to eliminate sexual violence, and that the advocacy groups involve men in the gender dialogue and also legal advocacy groups left me inspired. Many victims of sexual violence in Rwanda have written to me and told me their stories,” she says of the experience.

Currently in Uganda, she hopes to complete her East African run in the next few weeks.

‘Footsteps to Inspire’ has left a lasting impact for survivors of sexual violence and McFarlane’s efforts have started receiving wide spread recognition.

She recently spoke at TEDx USVI for the second time in July this year. Elle Magazine also nominated her as one of the 50 incredible women shaping the continent of Africa, and the ‘International Institute for Peace through Tourism’ named her their second ‘Ambassador for Peace’.

The words ‘survivor’ and ‘victim’ are frequently used in her conversations.

“I choose to use victim when I refer to the legal system, which refers to victim as someone who has experienced sexual violence. But when an individual moves out of their victim stage and feels like they want to move forward and talk about what has happened, they change their dynamics and become the survivor. I think it’s important when someone who experiences sexual violence recognises that,” she explains.

She adds, “It is understandable that women are more victimised but it is also important to note that boys are also vulnerable and if they do not get help, then they can become perpetrators when they are adults. By getting help they become positive contributors to society.

“My actual long term goal is to keep speaking and I want to move to schools and universities and share this experience, self-defence and how to cope afterwards.”

As she concludes her story, McFarlane tells of how she has chosen to make her tragic experience have a positive impact on her life.

“What happened to me at the time was traumatic, but it isn’t now. It’s now something that is positive and I think that it has changed me in the sense that I don’t let my trauma cause me suffering. It’s making me stronger and it has allowed me do this journey and I think being able to help and inspire people everywhere in the world is a gift that I can only give,” she says.

A look at sexual violence in Rwanda

Elvis Mbebe, the president of Initiatives For Peace and Human Rights (IPeace), says that listening to McFarlane’s story, it’s easy to note how access to justice is key in the healing process of a survivor of sexual violence.

“For her, it was more than just access to justice but also the justice system memory. Without an effective legal system, the victim may never obtain justice,” he says.

A statistical report by the National Public Prosecution Authority reveals that 313 cases of rape were registered between 2013 and 2014. All of them were handled in court and 112 people were convicted of rape.

Mbebe adds that much as a lot has been done in Rwanda in terms of institutional and legal framework for the fight against sexual violence, the most challenging factor remains the opening up by survivors who suffered sexual violence in family settings.

“This is difficult as many people in Rwandan society still think whenever there is a case of sexual violence; the victim has a share of responsibility. This is coupled with the rejection or stigma that survivors fear in case they open up and denounce what they faced,” he says.

Another report released in 2013 by Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC) on Gender-Based Violence revealed that GBV reporting is still low, with only 10 per cent of all sexual abuse victims coming out to report.

Disturbing is also the number of GBV victims (all forms considered) who did nothing after at 38 per cent. Among the reasons for this include the feeling that nothing will be done after reporting (36.7 per cent), the fear of stigma (18.7 per cent) and dependence of victims on perpetrators (16.9 per cent).

The report also cited other causes as being limited knowledge of law and rights (23.9 per cent), alcoholism (23.5 per cent), and persistence of negative cultural beliefs on gender (21.4 per cent). At the structural level, patriarchy is seen as the main cause of GBV in Rwanda.

In what ways can sexual violence be eliminated?

Society has made victims feel like it is their fault. Eliminating sexual violence begins with people acknowledging that it cuts across both genders and age groups. So many victims are hurting in silence because of societal stereotypes that it is demeaning for them to speak out on sexual abuse. Victims are most likely to be psychologically affected, hence, ending up being the oppressors themselves. To stop the cycle, people need to be encouraged to take the matters to court.

Phillip Karuhanga, IT specialist

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Awareness to understand the roots of violence in the context of culture, gender and other social aspects, should be improved so that societies can learn to help the victims rather than judge them. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, and could leave a long lasting negative impact on them. One way to prevent this dreadful vice is to empower people with self-defense mechanisms to avoid being attacked.

Maureen Uwera

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Men need to be part of the solution by teaching everyone about the myths and realities of sexual violence. Everyone should also take responsibility for their own sexuality and not allow it to be defined by their partner, the media, or anyone else.

Annet Agaba, accountant

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Gender-based violence is still a problem in our society and we need holistic and multi-disciplinary approaches to address it. We need to commit our everyday lives to combat it and we need more innovations to curb it.

Fidele Rutayisire, Chairperson RWAMREC

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