Here in Rwanda, there are many traditions that are both individual and community-based in their nature. One of the most universally followed practices is Rwanda’s dedication to community service. Once a month, generally the last Saturday of each month, Rwandans in every community across the country – from the smallest village all the way through the bustling capital, Kigali – gather to partake in what is called “Umuganda Rusange,” which translates to “General Day of Community Service.” Commonly it is referred to simply as Umuganda.
The project that each community partakes in depends on what they each view as their most crucial needs. This may range from clearing land for a new community garden, building new roads, or constructing a house for a community member in need. In larger cities like Kigali or our very own Butare Town, Umuganda is usually divided so that each major neighborhood can choose its own primary focus and community service project each month. Every able Rwandan is expected to attend Umuganda and participate in this sense of collective community effort towards a self-chosen goal of self-improvement.
Here at Inzozi Nziza, we support the idea of Community Service and we appreciate this Rwandan model. Because we are not just a business, but a cornerstone in community development here in Butare Town, we are always on the look-out for ways to contribute to a general sense of community strength, and to develop ourselves as a positive role model in our town. To this end, each month, not only do we partake of the town-wide Umuganda, but we conduct our own Day of Service here at the shop!
Once a month, we wipe down every surface, clean every piece of furniture, and do a thorough overhaul of all of our beloved equipment. We are dedicated to ensuring that our business and its contents are well-cared for, and always look their best!
We take advantage of this practice to thoroughly clean and maintain our space to the high standard we’ve come to expect of ourselves, cook a delicious Rwandan meal together, and hold a monthly meeting to discuss various aspects of the business.
We see this as a time to take care of the business we love, strengthen our relationships with one another to build a solid team, and demonstrate some of the benefits of such a practice to other members of our community. And best of all, we have a great time doing it! Here’s to many more Shop Umuganda’s to come.
To do/work – gukora (“goo-kore-ah”)
To clean – gukomesa (“goo-koh-mez-ah”)
Meeting – inama (“ee-nah-mah”)
To do service – gukora umuganda (“goo-kore-ah oo-moo-gahn-dah”)