It had been 21 years since I was last in Rwanda. I lived in Rwanda for four years before I joined the World Bank and left four years before the genocide. I wasn’t sure how I would feel when I return to this beautiful country for the FTI Board meetings I was heartbroken over the country — so many of my friends died in the genocide, or had fled the country. Also heartbreaking, some had been found guilty of participating in the genocide
This would not be an easy return
I wondered how the University I helped set up was doing, whether I would recognize any familiar streets, and whether I could reconnect with friends who survived.
A few weeks ago, I was reminded by my colleague Michael McDowell, of the positive changes in the country and how it has benefited from FTI. One of the stories introduces a 15 year-old student, Eric Hayurinfurawho who has benefited from Rwanda’s Nine Year Basic Education Program (9YBE) and the dramatic improvements in education that have taken place since the genocide. The present education system, supported by the Education for All – Fast Track Initiative, continues to improve methods to engage the community, including the Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), and to bring new opportunities to tens of thousands of children.
This is a time to inspire, and to be inspired, to seek out new ways of thinking about old problems. We will of necessity pore over many details during the next few hours.
There may be devils in those details, but there are angels in the details too. I urge you to look for them, and to find them.
Rwanda’s education system is moving in a positive direction. Yes, there are challenges, but considering what the country has gone through, they have found the angels and built on them. Rwanda is just one country example. Many other FTI countries have found the angels in their details, and have similar positive stories to share.
And now for the rest of the story…
My speaking Kinyarwanda remained on life support all week. I was able to remember greetings and a few Rwanda sayings.
Imana yirirwa ahandi igataha nu Rwanda
God may visit other countries during the day but he always comes back to Rwanda by nightfall.
That is generally taken to mean that hard times don’t last forever, which Rwanda has proven in abundance. I did get to visit the University of Central Africa where I had once worked and reconnected with old friends. And the Board responded positively to the policy agenda set forth.