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Japan funds ongoing support for children and families affected by 2008 Rwanda quake

© UNICEF Rwanda/2010/Nkurunziza
Hiroshi Murakami, Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, meets an assembly of students in Rusizi District, western Rwanda, which was hard hit by an earthquake in 2008.

RUSIZI, Rwanda, 20 January 2011 – A Japanese Government delegation – joined by UNICEF officials and local leaders from Rusizi District in western Rwanda – recently visited several sites where rehabilitation work is under way in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake that hit the area in February 2008.

During the visit, the Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Hiroshi Murakami, and his team met with local leaders and toured schools and other facilities.

Rusizi was one of two districts that were hard hit by the earthquake, which destroyed hospitals, schools, churches and health centres, and left thousands homeless.

Support and technical advice

After the quakes, the Government of Japan provided a grant through UNICEF to help empower local communities to rebuild their lives and better prepare for similar challenges in the future. “Many things have significantly improved, and my government is very proud and happy to support this rehabilitation project,” said Mr. Murakami.

© UNICEF Rwanda/2010/Nkurunziza
UNICEF Child Participation Officer Flavie Mutamutega (third from left) explains how a community grant from the Government of Japan has provided parents and children with an opportunity to consider obstacles to development and social progress.

“Children and youth of the present generation are the future leaders of the country, and efforts to make them better people should never be undermined,” said Rusizi District Mayor Fabien Sindayiheba in his remarks to the visiting delegation.

“This is the sole reason as to why all of us should care for the little ones – especially the orphans – and why we so much appreciate your support and the technical advice of UNICEF in implementing this project,” he added.

Children’s forums

One of the highlights of the visit was time spent by the delegates with young people who participate in district children’s forums, set up with assistance from UNICEF, where they can discuss issues that affect their lives. The forums offer both parents and children an opportunity to consider obstacles to community development and social progress.

“This helps in developing the child in his community by providing him with space for dialogue with adults,” said UNICEF Child Participation Officer Flavie Mutamutega.

Besides supporting activities to empower children and youth – as well as rehabilitating and reconstructing classrooms and health centres in quake-affected areas – UNICEF has established a one-stop centre for the prevention of child, domestic and gender-based violence in Rusizi.



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