Umuganda – community service!

The last Saturday of every month between 7AM and 12PM everything in Rwanda stops. Or at least all the restaurants keep closed, markets are not operating and public and private transportation is limited.

Wilson, the youth president, is explaining today’s activities.

The reason for this is that the entire country is supposed to take part in umuganda – community service. Digging ditches, sweeping the grounds, making composts, building houses, clearing land, or any other activity that is helping the country becoming better. Some people use this day to have a sleep-in, but at least in the countryside, every family has to have a representative in the umuganda in the village.

My mother with all the children in the village.

We arranged a umuganda in an agasozi ndatwa – a model village, being helped to make a good example in terms of hygiene, schooling, houses and so forth for the surrounding communities. Together with around 50 volunteers from different secondary schools, and some of the university students, we dug ditches, made compost and held a small appeal in the village square to spread information to the villagers when the day’s tasks were finished.

Volunteers digging a hole in the ground for a widow with three children. The hole is to be used for compost to make the ground become more fertile.

The village children were watching us all day.

Umuganda is a very interesting phenomenon. Together with other rather strict rules, like the prohibition of use of plastic bags, being fined for littering, having people cutting grass and sweeping the streets several times a week, it is part of making Rwanda one of the cleanest countries in Africa. Personally, I think Rwanda is the cleanest country in the world…

Red cross volunteers. The one on the right from the village, and the one on the left from a secondary school.

My dad is really making an effort to be better at digging than the young man to his left. People refusing to believe him being my dad because of his young appearance made him walk on clouds all day.



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6 responses to “Umuganda – community service!

  1. Pingback: The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Rwanda | Conservatives for America

  2. Pingback: The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Rwanda « friends of evil

  3. hannah

    wow am so amazed by rwanda and i hope we can adopt an initiative like this one in uganda

  4. Hi Sigri,

    I am a web designer based in Tokyo, Japan.
    Thank you for your beautiful blog and its information about umuganda.
    In August I visited Rwanda and now I am making a short film about the country.
    Unfortunately my stay was so short that I could not experience umuganda service day.
    If I could download some of the images of umuganda from your blog and insert them into my video project, that will be great.
    The video project is to explain how and why the economy and the social infrastructures of Rwanda have been recovered in 20 years.
    I will put the copyright credit on the images, of course.
    If it is possible, please send me a reply.
    Thank you for your attention.


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