Richard enjoying the freedom of Mobility is EVERYTHING. 

I received these pictures this morning of Richard going to work on his own.  Tears of Joy filled my morning, my year may have just been made.  

To whom much is given…. May we always rise to occasion to give of ourselves to help others stand on their own.  We can all try🙏🏿

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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.

Success is in your DNA – #GiantsofAfrica inspires hundreds of Africa’s Youth to #DreamBig. 

“You have everything that you need to get to the next level. All you have to do is look inward. Because all you have to succeed is in your DNA, if you CHOOSE to work!”  These are the words our youth are hearing at Giants Of Africa (GOA) basketball camps, one of the best initiatives I’ve experienced.

For the 2nd year in a row, I had the opportunity to see GOA team at work, empowering Rwanda’s youth with more than basketball skills.  The Team is led by Masai Ujiri, President of Toronto Raptors Basketball Operations, who’s also the founder and includes players, coaches, scouts in the NBA.  As they teach basketball, they also spend time mentoring participants and calling them higher to be responsible upright citizens, who can make something of themselves and contribute to their community, country and Africa’s development.  It is always great to have our youth equipped with a skill and most importantly inspired to DREAM BIG, BE and DO better for themselves, the community and country. 



It is always a joy to watch, and find myself tearing up seeing the big smiles, knowing  this experience shall shine a lasting light in these young minds.  What’s best is the passion GOA team have, their hearts are in the work right from the top with Masai. 
Since it’s founding, GOA have undoubtedly lived up to their mission to use basketball to educate and enrich the lives of African youth.  They’ve been to numerous African countries and are working their way to each one of the nations in our Union.  Today they have developed players at local, national, international and professional levels.  A seed planted by Masai and many African basketball player’s favorite coach, the famous OBJ has now grown to become a powerful movement.  

More at giantsofafrica.org.  

In Rwanda, this year marked their 3rd consecutive year of hosting the camp, where players get gear and get the best coaching.  This year was extra special as GOA delivered a much needed and wonderfully Club Rafiki basketball court in Kigali’s most vibrant surburb, Nyamirambo.  Court was officially opened by President Paul Kagame and Masai in event attended by Ministers of Youth, Sports and Education and the President of NBA Africa. 



10 years ago, Masai played and taught at Club Rafiki, his first stop on that visit through Basketball without borders.  It is great to see he returned to make sure our youth had a better place to play, and our basketball association to have a great example of what we must do.  We had the pleasure of enjoying a friendly game on this newly minted court, which ended with a thrilling 3 pointer.  


All photos by photographers, Kevin Couliau @asphaltchronicles & Jamal Burger @jayscale.

After Rwanda GOA continued on to inspire youth in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast through basketball.  They  also visited Dadaab while in Kenya to give hope to the youth, encouraging them to Dream Big and in spite their circumstances, they too can make something of themselves.  


One particular moment moved me to tears when a coach told participants in Kenya:

“You’re alive! Right now there’s someone dying in South Sudan that’s your age. Someone who’s been recruited into the militia to go fight against their cousins. You have your feet, you have your hands, you have everything that you need to get to the next level.  All you have to do is look inward.  Because all you have to succeed is in your DNA, if you CHOOSE to work! It is ALL in THE WORK, there’s no magic to it. No body will come and tell you, here it is it is a scholarship.  You have to work, let them see that.  It take everyday, it takes every information to make you the man that you will become tomorrow!”


This message is POWERFUL because success starts with each of us making the choice to pursue it.  GOA is instilling hope and self belief in Africa’s youth which can only yield self value/dignity what we call AGACIRO in Rwanda. 

Imagine the possibilities if the African Union joined forces with Giants of Africa to inspire millions of Africa’s youth.  The best way is to invest in making sure we make a part of ALL school curriculum and put sports infrastructure to our schools.  Parents, private sector and government can join forces to make it happen.  

Thank you Giants of Africa for leading the way with a great example.  I am certain such a foundation of dignity, hope and skills can and shall transform many lives. 

Meet the inspiring Richard. @MTNRwanda please help us support him. 

Meet Richard, a mobile money agent, near my home, a consistent source of inspiration.  He puts to shame those of us with no disability but are full of excuses as to why we can’t work/get a job done/be good and useful community members.  He’s a SUPERB example of heart and work ethic, one I strive to emulate. 

Everyday, except Saturday when he goes to church, Richard is out at the crack of dawn to serve his loyal customers.  Many a time I tried to beat him out and never once succeeded, he’s that committed.  I’m even embarrassed sometimes when I drag myself out of bed because I’m fully independent while he’s disabled.  He loved his work and his customers love him to keep coming back. 

Unfortunately, when it rains or when there’s a dust storm on our extremely dusty road, whose completion has taken far too long, Richard has to hurriedly fold up and rush home, with the help of one of our guys at home.  He needs to have a kiosk which would improve his efficiency especially on those rainy days when he has to rush to pack up.  My husband has tried without success to secure one through a few centers.  He even wanted to have one made but were told it wouldn’t work and therefore appealing We decided to help him get a kiosk from MTN and haven’t had success.  

Richard’s is a great example, teaching us there’s simply no obstacle we can’t overcome when we commit to earning an honest income and meaningfully contributing to our community/country. 

I’m appealing to MTN to help us help Richard build a better business. He is committed and loved, I have no doubt he shall excel. Thank you. 

Today, We Voted for…💙💛💚✊🏾. #RwandaDecides

My family and I went to vote this morning. 


My brother Brek in high spirits kicked us off with this on the way saying, A family that votes together progresses together.. Hatutachoka kwa mobile 🔴⚪🔵 💙💛💚

Mum: I voted because of AGACIRO (dignity/value) and continued progress in building the best Rwanda for my children and their children…

Barry (my baby brother with the cap) He says: UMVA (listen) : I’ve never known/seen a President like our loved Pres. Paul Kagame and therefore voted to make sure we continue building the Rwanda we dream of #NdandambaraYanteraUbwoba

Janet (my sister): I voted because of Agaciro, he gave us girls/women a voice, peace, and he’s given Rwanda a great name across the world.  I trust my future is secure with my vote. 

Brek (my DJ brother in red): Continued Development and the opportunity for youth  to participate in building the country. 

Last but not least: yours truly😃.  I voted for:

  1. Exemplary Leadership which is like no other on this continent, inspiring many Rwandans and Africans to meaningfully participate in our development 
  2. Exemplary Leadership which truly cares about THE PEOPLE and makes sure those in authority are delivering for the people, NOT robbing us of our resources 
  3. Exemplary Leadership which values UNITY and contribution by EVERYONE, young or old, man or woman
  4. Exemplary Leadership which makes sure INCLUSION is in everything they do
  5. Exemplary Leadership which not only advocates for Rwandans but also for Africans


Here’s to greater progress for Rwandans as voted by Rwandans.  

3 days to Vote for continued Infrastructure Development✊🏾. #ToraKagame

23 years of consistent infrastructure development is another reason to vote for progress with RPF Inkotanyi led by President Kagame.  

If you appreciate economic development you know we can’t succeed without good infrastructure.  In the last 7 years, I’ve witnessed consistent infrastructure development, and the results are here for all to see. 

  1. Electricity access has increased nationwide with our districts going from only 4% to 27% coverage.  We are now tapping into methane gas deposits and solar as we head to at least 80% coverage by 2020.
  2. Clean water access has increased as well for hundreds of thousands of households, growing from 30% to near 80% in our districts.
  3. Mobile phone penetration has increased from under 30% in 2010 to over 80% present day.  Thanks to government removing taxes on ICT tools. 
  4. Internet access has increased from less than 1% in 2010 to nearly 40% thanks to the government’s completion of the a fiber optic network across the country, and procurement of bandwidth which took us from 128Kbps in 2010 to 4G speeds today.  This and more is a result of deliberate policy decisions and investments by government, championed by none other than President Kagame himself.  
  5. Roads: what can I say about roads – evidence is there for all to see. Feeder roads in the hundreds, many tarmac have relieved traffic on our main roads.  It is fantastic to see all the big roads in progress to becoming highways. 
  6. Markets are no longer made with firewood/mesh.  We have modern and dignified markets nationwide. 
  7. Kigali Convention Center must get its own special mention because it represents resilience and the many jobs which have come in the services sector.  You know Rwanda is working to become a services driven economy.  Thanks to infrastructure like KCC, we are well on our to become a meetings hub. 
  8. Hotels to support our growing visitors have grown in number, including world renown chains have set up in Rwanda.  We now host meetings with over 3000 guests.  Each meeting hosted = jobs for hundreds.  
  9. Kigali International Airport is a leading airport on the continent as one of the most efficient.  Civil Aviation expanded it to host hundreds of thousands travelers who are happy to be in a clean and efficient airport.  We now look forward to our brand new and even bigger airport. 
  10. Last but not least, we get to Fly our very own airline, Rwandair, to the rest of the world.  As a frequent flyer I can tell you, as soon as I enter the plane from one of their growing destinations I feel right at home and I’m sure many feel the same.  

Countless achievements and no doubt there’s lots more to do to grow our infrastructure.  I’ll be voting for the winning team of RPF Inkotanyi led by President Paul Kagame to ensure we continue to achieve.  Join me. 

6 days to voting for even greater gender equality/equity. #ToraKagame

The second reason I’ll be voting for continued progress with RPF Inkotanyi is empowerment, particularly women.  In the last 7 years being on the ground, I can honestly say I have never felt more empowered.  

In every village across the country, women have equal access to services and opportunities and it is evident when I move around.  We are leaders in respective sectors and advocates for other women, without being sidelined.  Instead we are fully supported and organizations without at least 30% women ar scrutinized.  

Who you vote for is obviously personal and taking from my own journey, I’m certain I’d not have a career in economic development today without the opportunity I’ve had in Rwanda.  I mean:

  1. Where else in the world does a government ensure women aren’t outnumbered in the legislative arm of governance (parliament)? 
  2. Where else in the world does cabinet include at least 40% women, consistently? 
  3. Where else in Africa and really the world would a young woman like me, straight out of graduate school have the opportunity to LEAD the development of a national technology plan, LEAD the national ID agency, LEAD communications for the presidency / BE director of cabinet, BE Permanent secretary, BE Cabinet Member leading doing business for government, BE LEAD speech writer? I could go on and on.  
  4. Where else would a group of passionate young women quickly gain government support in promoting STEM among girls, and be given a platform to run a continental competition #MsGeek? 
  5. Where else on the continent is girls education and wellbeing championed than in Rwanda? More girls are enrolled in school today than ever before and government is doing all it can to collaborate with parents to keep girls in school.  We can continue this great progress. 
  6. Where else on the continent do we have a President who is truly HeForShe and is THE top champion for women? 

These are only a few the realities I’ve observed/experienced during my time in Rwanda.  It is only LEADERSHIP which believes in gender equality and equity and ensures EVERYONE is involved in building a secure future for our country.  And more specifically, the leadership of President Kagame. 

I’m sure there are millions of stories to share as evidenced by the numbers of women out campaigning for continued progress in achieving gender equality and equity in Rwanda with RPF Inkotanyi led by President Kagame.  I proudly join them. 

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