American students visit the Senate
18 American high school students visiting the country met the Senate president yesterday to discuss the role the Parliament has played in post-Genocide Rwanda.
“In rebuilding a nation, unity and reconciliation is the key factor. The Senate promotes it through overseeing the power-sharing process, which, if not handled carefully, can be the basis of unimaginable conflict”, Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo, the president of the Senate, explained to the visiting students.
Ntawukuriryayo also mentioned that senators oversee the conduct of the country’s politicians, and can easily identify potentially harmful behavior. Among other roles, he added, we are an advisory body to any government institution about any policy implementation. “In doing so, we recognize Rwandans’ joint effort in rebuilding this nation, which in fact will be left in Rwandan youths’ hands. The better situation we leave to them, the more they can sustain and even improve.”
The team is composed by members of the AfriPeace Development Foundation, a US non-profit organization set up in California in 1999, with the main mission of promoting US-Africa relations and mutual understanding through people to people exchanges. They also intend to promote youth peace and cultural education between the Californian and Rwandan students.
“We have seen that Rwanda is advanced in democracy and human rights, mostly in terms of women, youth and children’s rights. Schools are accessible to all, the youth and women are represented everywhere even in the Parliament. That in itself means a lot,” observed Elena Bennett, one of the delegation’s leaders.
She added that some Rwanda’s realities are hard for US citizens to believe. “We have already seen a lot, and we will carry a story of a peaceful fast-developing country. We will be the ambassadors of the tremendous change we have witnessed.”
On Rwanda’s side, the visit was organized by the Streets Ahead Children’s Center Association (SACCA), a local organization that aims at educating street children in the Eastern Province. The organization has, since its creation, partnered with AfriPeace Development Foundation. The visiting team is in the country since July 9 and has visited different areas in the countryside.
“Rwanda’s achievements that we are witnessing will help us make a bridge between Rwanda and the US, especially us as the young generation. We have seen the ‘True Rwanda’,” said Jasmine, one of the visiting students.