Homemade is BEST

I loooooove sweet things and many times gravitate toward dessert first to determine my main when I go out to eat. If dessert is good, I shall eat a light meal, mostly salad and top it off with dessert, hehe.

Anyway, went grocery shopping yesterday and it took a lot for me to not get dessert. Walked by the chocolate sauces but the ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and shelf life turned me away. Picked up pure untainted Ghana made cocoa instead. Unfortunately, was on the bottom shelf below all the imported ones who probably bought cocoa here for next to nothing, took it “West” processed and tainted it with whatever, packaged and branded it nicely only for us to import it back and pay premium – I digress.

Fact is many times we don’t know what’s been put in the already made food we buy, in grocery shops and restaurants. And for desserts, gelatin is in many including the beloved ice cream – trust me you don’t want gelatin. This is why I strive to make my own food, although leading a single life outside of my beautiful Rwanda has made Jumia a constant part of life, and this may well change after my successfully delicious experiment today. aided by Auntie google.

Thanks to auntie google, got a simple recipe and gave it my own touch. Almond milk in place of water, brown sugar, 100% untainted Ghana Cocoa, a pinch of sea salt and my favorite spice mix courtesy of the best love of my life, made the most delicious chocolate sauce I’ve ever had. Dessert breakfast was heaven in my mouth.

My love for the kitchen is back, hope you too can enjoy more homemade goodness.

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Financial Planning and Discipline Are Our ticket To financial freedom.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but never got around to it until I was reminded this past weekend, when a group of us where talking about the savings culture in Rwanda. Thanks to the national savings week and ongoing cashless payments awareness, we are having these discussions.

Some of us thought Rwandans don’t save, others believed many do we just don’t put it in the bank. Some said they’d rather save in property than the bank. We discussed interest rates, and distrust in banks. Some said many don’t have enough to save, which may indeed be true. Whatever the case, I think these are good discussions we should have at dinner tables with our family, especially the majority youth among us.

Growing up is great and something to look forward to.  And at 38 (yes, it has taken me that long), I can comfortably speak about financial discipline, after making countless financial blunders and now finally getting it together. So here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Know your numbers aka budget: How much do you earn? How much do you spend? Write it ALL down so you can visualize your money matters. This can be shocking at first when you’ve been spending all willy-neely. But it is a necessary exercise if you want to live WITHIN your means, i.e. spend less than you earn, not more and plan for the future. If you can read this, you can definitely use excel – time to get real :-). How much do you spend on needs (life essentials) and how much on wants (things you can do without)? Next time you want to buy something, ask yourself is it a need or want? Could you save that money instead? Believe me, I battle this many a time and do waste sometimes, but getting better at being disciplined.
  2. Savings: This is money we put in an account for a rainy day. It is imperative that you save, no matter how small. This builds discipline and will eventually become second nature. How do you measure your savings? When done with number 1, hopefully there’s a savings line, you will know how much you spend. Now multiply this by at least 6 months and begin to work towards having enough savings to cover you for at least 6 months should anything happen to stop you from working. My target is savings of at least 1.5 years worth of expenditures. Set a goal and diligently work to achieve it and even if you don’t fully, at least you can avoid being stranded on a rainy day. Please note a house, land, car are NOT savings because you can’t liquidate them at a moments notice when you urgently need funds to pay your bills when temporarily unemployed.
  3. Investments: This is money we put in assets which can bring us a good return in the future, especially when not working. You want invest in assets, which can bring returns enough to cover your basic needs in the long run. Assets are property such as land, property or equity in a company. Please note, a car is Not an asset because it depreciates the second you drive off into the sunset with your new ride.

If we want to achieve financial freedom, discipline to manage monies effectively is the surest way to succeed. What better time to start than today. See you here👇🏿👊🏾.

Throw Out The Poison of Comparing Your Life To Others – LIVE Yours! 

To be true to yourself is strength.  To continue working towards being your best self is why we are here, it is the only way to LIVE life to the fullest.  

The only way we can stay true to self, love and know who we are is to STOP comparing ourselves to others.   We simply CANNOT BE or achieve what we want when we are constantly comparing or checking what the other person has done, and try to beat them at it – you won’t because it is NOT your journey.   This is the poison we must dispose of, quickly, to win and stay winning.  

In the words of the GREAT Maya Angelou, “Success is liking YOURSELF, liking what YOU do, and liking how YOU do it.” 

Go on, get in your mind and throw out that poison of comparison today.  Only then shall you LIVE a peaceful existence, one in which you thrive on positive energy to propel you to SUCCESS in being your best self. 

Rise, I know you CAN. 

In life we are dealt with various hands some good, some bad and some simply ugly.  It is how we manage and overcome them that reveals who we are.  

Hardship or plain ugliness will befall us as we journey on to becoming our best selves.  People, yes even your friends and family, will work or turn against you, smear you, hold past sins against you and simply not wish you will.  Such is life.  

Whatever comes, jealously guard your mind and heart against hate/revenge.   Instead, CHOOSE to free yourself by forgiving and cultivating inner peace.  It is in RISING and STANDING Up each time that we find and build strength to overcome any obstacle.  

I am a living testimony that we can overcome, even the most insurmountable odds to succeed and BE somebody without hate or vengeance.  Now, I am far from where I need to be and everyday is work, but I am clear about one thing, I shall never let my mind imprison my potential by hating or standing in the way of others’ prosperity.   

I choose to RISE and STAND TALL through it all, celebrating mine and others’ success, while praying for and wishing well the naysayers.

Dare to fearlessly RISE, I believe in your ability to STAND. 

Commemorating to remember loved ones is NOT Politicking! 

Few weeks back, the remains of 547 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi were laid to rest in Kicukiro – my home.  I can never comprehend it all and it is always heartbreaking to say the least because more than 23 years, we are still finding our loved ones! 

Moments like these remind me of how far we have come in rebuilding our country after the horror of 1994.  They also remind me of the work that remains knowing that some go to sleep at night knowing they can help find remains but still keep quiet.  I cringe when I hear someone can be so heartless to deliberately construct a house and put a driveway on top of the remains of a loved one of a fellow Rwandan, who already suffered to death!  How do we get so possessed to commit and live with such evil!!! And, how do some even join forces with people who killed and still want to kill us!! 

Additionally, how is it that people don’t understand that we must always remember to honor our loved ones and make sure NEVER AGAIN remains a reality in our Rwanda!!  No matter what noise is out there or what heartless people who don’t see it as politics, we must give a voice to those who passed by speaking about what happened and boldly doing what it takes to remember and educate.  Moments like these remind me of this past April 21st, when someone told me, to my face, that my out of office commemorative message was offensive in that I was bringing politics to work stationery.  For nearly six years of writing a commemorative out of office note, which this year read, 

“Commemorating our loved ones lost during the Genocide Against The Tutsi alongside fellow Rwandans. I’m not on email and shall respond when back online on Monday April 10th. For urgent matters, please SMS me.”  

No sooner had this man uttered and displayed his heartlessness than my eyes welled up and all that good emotional intelligence went out the window.  It took everything to not utter any insult during this humiliation.  At the end of it, gathered myself to leave his office, and go for a staff get together.  When I got back to my hotel room, I couldn’t stop crying with my always supportive husband on the line.  After those tears, two things were abundantly clear 1) I MUST do more to tell/support telling of the stories of our loved ones and what happened in Rwanda. 2) It was time to move on and out.  

Commemorating is NOT politicking! It CANNOT BE because commemoration is exactly what we should be doing to keep the memory of our loved ones alive and ensure genocide never happens again.  Only we can preserve and honor the memory of our loved ones. We must continue to remind ourselves and the world what happened here so NEVER AGAIN remains a reality in our Rwanda. 

For you who take offense to what we do to commemorate, shame on you!!  Know this we CANNOT and SHALL NOT stop.  We shall make sure our children and generations after them always remember and renew commitment to NEVER AGAIN!  It is NOT politicking and we shall not standby as you undermine how we choose to remember!   

The Ability to Move is FREEDOM.

Have you ever stopped to appreciate your two legs and the ability to move about as you choose?  Well, I was reminded of this yesterday thanks to Richard our most known and loved agent in the neighborhood whom I wrote about last month.  Link below.

https://lucymbabazi.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/meet-the-inspiring-richard-mtnrwanda-please-help-us-support-him

Our efforts to get a kiosk were futile and involved too much bureaucracy in which Richard was to be placed on waiting list of other disabled agents.  We decided to take matters into our own hands.

Thanks to my resourceful husband and street smart brother, we found a place which could make Richard a functional wheelchair and went right to work.  On Friday, we took Richard to choose his wheelchair and we got to learn more about his life.  Needless to say, it was an emotional day and made this effort all the more rewarding.

You see, Richard was a budding mechanic, happily married and blessed with a son.  Sadly, all this came to a screeching halt when he was involved in a work accident almost seven years ago, which aleft him paralyzed waist up and on crutches, unable to continue working because he was no longer mobile.  With no work compensation having been injured while on duty, his employer abandoned him(maddening – we can do better).  His wife also left him and had no heart to take their young son.  This didn’t stop the determined Rasta, as he’s known to many, he continues to work hard to take care of his son.  Until Friday, Richard hadn’t stepped out the neighborhood and it was the first time he’d been to Sonatubes in years (About 5-10 minutes walk from his home).  Watching him marvel at the development since all those years ago brought tears to our eyes.  He’s wanted to do take his son out, go to the market, enjoy a football game at ETO Kicukiro (IPRC) or with friends but couldn’t not because of the daunting task to move.  We were reminded of the gift of mobility!

Each day, one of they guys at home help Richard set up and close.  On this special Friday 15 September day, we delivered a new wheelchair customized to Richard’s needs and enhanced road safety features. 


His face was beaming with joy and mine full of tears and smiles.  Oh happy day!

I look forward to seeing Richard moving about his business a bit easier and enjoying life a little.  He’s taught me a lot about resilience and work ethic, and most importantly to be grateful for the gift of mobility – I’ll never take it for granted.

JFK once said, “One can make a difference and everyone should try.”  We are surrounded by people in need, please endeavor to make a difference each day, in whatever way we can, even if it’s just a welcoming smile.

Be the difference.

What? Last Call For Alcohol?! (Inserts eyerolls and sneers) 

“Last call for alcohol, last call for alcohol, last call for alcohol.”  An announcement I heard many a time in my youth.  Typically night clubs, bars, lounges, pubs closed at 1 or 2am and it was common place for patrons to hear last call and we knew it’s time to wind down alcohol intake by grabbing your last cold beverage. 

At exact closing time all lights were switched to their brightest for you to find your date, shoes, and friends.  This is the time you get to see your dancing partner you’ve been slow wining all night and determine whether he or she is worth revealing your real name and contacts :-).  With all music off and lights on, patrons are pointed out the doors with tall big chested staff (bouncers) yelling at anyone dragging their feet or hanging around the parking lot saying, “you ain’t gotta but you’ve got to get the hell outta here.” By 3AM the floor and parking lot have been all but cleared and cleaned up, prepared for the next evening.

Why (Last Call for Alcohol)?

Last call for alcohol was initiated in the U.S. to strike a balance between the alcohol industry, restaurant, bar and club owners with law enforcement, local security and organizations like MADD – (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)

Prior to this, establishments were open into the wee hours of the morning and experienced an increase in violence, emergency room visits due to alcohol-impaired driving and motor vehicle collisions, and the most common mother of all domestic violence.  They all came to agreement that the impact of alcohol consumption certainly are valid, and unlimited hours exacerbate the situation. All parties agreed to a partnership bringing together the alcohol industry, restaurant, bar and club owners with the law enforcement to make sure there’s a balance without affecting the economy. 

Accountability of Public Safety

We all know, before you operate a motor vehicle in any country, you MUST obtain a driving permit/license. With it, you acknowledge and agree to abide with all rules and regulations governing the roads. You also accept total liability that may occur while operating vehicle. Violating road rules may result in criminal citation and revocation of your permit.

Currently, liability of selling alcohol and falls only on law enforcement i.e. police.  Moreover an increase in demand for law enforcement impacts their limited time and resources, which could be devoted to more urgent matters pertaining to community safety and security. 

I believe it is time we hold hotel, bar and club owners liable for incidents produced by un-regulated sale and consumption of alcohol.  I stand corrected, but I think anyone with a countertop, couple benches (with deemed red lights) can sale and serve alcohol anytime!  The small shop turned bar from afternoon until whenever in our neighborhoods are the worst culprits. I’ve encountered some men staggering home in broad day light and at night.  On August 4th, at about 3am in the morning on the way from celebrating Intsinzi, I encountered a young lady too drunk to walk on her own, surrounded by four guys looking over their shoulders.  I wondered what were they worried about and prayed nothing happened to her.  I’ve heard stories of people being killed by too much drinking, especially in rural areas thanks to the unregulated local brew and “sealed well.” Sealed well is even driving people, especially the poorest among us.  These aren’t even checked by Rwanda Bureau of Standards.  Many have died at the hand of drunk drivers – I say many because 1 life lost is one too many.  What wake up call do we need to bring about some change? 

It is time our policy makers put in place policies that regulate the sale of alcohol for the sake of public safety.  This will allow law enforcerment to monitor and regulate the consumption of alcohol. Our local government structure is one which can help monitoring and regulation from the village level to collaborate with Police people and publicly safely thrive in Rwanda.  

Licensing premises that sale, serve, alcohol.

Licensees grant law enforcement i.e. public health inspectors and police access to the licensed premises, without warning regardless time of day to insure public safety.  They ensure the following:

  1. Hours of sale: The sell, serving and consuming of alcohol in a licensed establishment, at any time, should be prohibited and may result in penalty and fines.  It’s a duty of a public health inspector or any other law enforcement officers to ensure alcohol is not consumed on a licensed premise outside the legal hours of sale.  As matter of fact, that’s why patrons are given “a last call for alcohol” notice to inform customers that the selling, serving and consuming of alcoholic beverages is about to end.  
  2. Enforcement and Sanctions: law enforcement agencies monitor licensed establishments to ensure alcohol is not sold during prohibited hours.  A criminal citation can be issued if law officials find the licensee, employees or patrons guzzling in a licensed establishment during that time.
  3. The violation of selling, serving or allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises during prohibited hours can punishable by a criminal fine. Penalties may include civil penalty or a 30 days license suspension.
  4. Licensing premises that sale, serve, alcohol insures the public safety. A bar owner that sell and serve alcohol MUST acknowledge and agree to abide with regulation that protect the public safety and also accept total liability that may occur while operating. (Just like a Driver’s permit).  If you serve alcohol to your customer until dawn, who barely can stand up but he’s looking for car keys without bar staff intervention, then a bar or club owner must be liable of incidents by occur while drive drunk. 

Cooperation between law enforcement officials, will warrant public safety, especially for patrons who have no self control to know when they’ve had enough and/or need to rest for a better tomorrow.  

We do have establishments who are great examples doing the right thing and their businesses are growing.  For example, CHOMA’D only allows patrons above 21 years old after 7:00pm. They also close at 10:30pm with a last call at 10:00pm during weekdays and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday they close at 2:00am, with a last call at 1:30am.  Another exemplary establishments is Trophies, doesn’t allow those under 21 and closes at 1:00am with a last call for alcohol at 12:30am.  Both of these are owned by youth.  Therefore I ask, why can’t others establishments big or micro, not follow this good example for the sake of public safety.

We can do better, and I hope we shall swiftly.
 

Let’s simplify the Criminal Record Clearance Certificate process. #Rwanda2020

Few weeks back, I applied for a criminal record clearance certificate through Irembo.  Process to apply and pay couldn’t be more easy.  Congratulations to our Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor General and Rwanda Online Team on a job well done using ICT to simplify application and payment. 

However after the payment, process can be simpler.  As it is today,  

  1. You receive SMS confirming application and payment. 
  2. You then receive SMS telling you to pick up your document where you applied (confusing especially when you applied at Irembo site).  I had to call someone I know who’s gone through the process to figure out where exactly I get the document. I was directed to the Prosecution office housed in the same compound as the Supreme Court, High Court and Ministry of Justice. I was told if you know someone there you can call so you don’t wait for long.   I did call, thankfully, they didn’t pick so I had the pleasure of going through the process.  I needed to experience it so that i could advocate for better.
  3. At NPPA you must be there by 1100Hrs and they’ll be reading out all names of people who’ve applied. If you are lucky enough to be called sooner, count your blessings.  Otherwise you could wait a while.  
  4. When your name is called, you step to the front. Walked up relieved only to be told, “tegereza tugusinyire” – “wait and we sign for you.” As you can imagine I was perplexed wondering why they bothered sending me SMS and called me up when document isn’t signed. 

Process can be simplified as follows:

  1. Only send confirmation when document is ready i.e. printed, signed and stamped for now until we have esignature in place. 
  2. Introduce a number system as Rwanda Immigration has. Instead of someone calling our names for an hour straight, put a number system allow people to pick a number and wait our turn.  When turn comes, check ID, find ready document, give it to customer and let them continue with their day. 
  3. Lead the charge to mobilize support and resources for RISA to implement the government enterprise architecture project, which was to bring all government services to one site to simplify information sharing and services delivery. 

Look forward to seeing this service and more services improve swiftly.  Counting on  you Minister Busingye on seeing this through.  Thank you.

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