By Businge Henry Amootie  (From rotaract club of Kajjansi)

Rotaract East Africa impaCT (REACT) is an annual arrangement that brings together rotaractors from across East Africa for a common project. It rotates around the East African countries and the 2016 REACT was held in Rwanda’s Kigali city. It was organized by the Rotaract club of K.I.E and the Rotaract club of Kigali city under the theme; Nutrition and household welfare.

As is the norm for REACT activities, It was held during the Easter break. Teams began trickling in on Friday morning with team Uganda (nick named boxer) checking in within the 9 O’clock hour followed by Team Tanzania, team Kenya, and team Burundi in that order. The venue and centre of all activities was Kigali view hotel in Nyamirambo.

On arrival all participants were registered, given project T-shirts, project time table and allocated rooms of residence.

After dinner on Friday evening, all participants assembled in the hotel main hall for the first event of the day deemed cultural night. This included presentations from all participating countries about their different cultures. Team Rwanda presented a brief account of the genocide reinforced with a short twenty minute movie portraying how Rwanda has moved on from the genocide stronger and united with its people moving away from ethnic divisions to being one people hence the phrase ‘‘we are Rwandans”.

Team Uganda made a presentation about the cultural diversity of their country and later showcased some of their cultural wear notably the Gomesi and Kanzu visible in central Uganda, and parts of Eastern and western Uganda. It was all ululations and excitement as the ladies dressed in their Gomesi knelt down to great the audience. Kneeling down while greeting is a cherished tradition in parts of Uganda especially Buganda, Tooro, Basoga and others, it’s considered a sign of respect to the person being addressed especially elders.

Team Kenya shared their cultural heritage as well as team Tanzania. The cultural night was perfectly crowned by a scintillating display from team Burundi as their ladies wiggled their waists to the rhythms of a local song in display of their rich culture. The team seemed to have made enough preparations for the cultural event.

Saturday was the long awaited project day. The day coincided with Umuganda (a community service programme in Rwanda) which gave greater meaning to the REACT project. The project was held in different zones of Kinyinya, Gasabo district in line with the project theme. Kinyinya is one of those places where survivors of the genocide were resettled under the peace and hope initiative programme.

The project was held in two phases; the first phase involved preparing gardens, planting and educating households on nutrition. Rotaractors were divided into groups and distributed among the households to do the preparation of gardens, planting and education.

The second phase involved the construction and installation of kitchen gardens, planting and educating households on nutrition, donation of food and clothing.  The groups constructed kitchen gardens in different households to boast their food production.

After the kitchen gardens, the groups gathered together and distributed clothes to the households. The smiles on the faces of the beneficiaries told a happy story of a well thought out project.

Later in the day, participants settled for an assembly that elected new leaders and Peter King Oloo from Rwanda was elected as the new president of REACT 2016-2017. The supporting committee members were a mix from all participating countries. Voting of the next host saw Tanzania take the day making it official that REACT 2017 will be a Tanzanian affair.

The participating rotaractors exchanged contacts and banners as they interacted after the elections.

The day was spiced up with a night out at K-Club where participating rotaractors danced the night away. Sunday was a day free from REACT activities and members utilized it to tour different parts of Kigali notably Kigali Genocide Memorial centre.

REACT Rwanda was a scene of moments to remember as participants networked and experienced the true spirit of togetherness in a one East Africa. The Rwanda experience is a life turning moment which gives greater meaning to service above self.

Quick facts about REACT 2016

  • It was attended by 138 participants from 36 Rotaract clubs across 5 East African countries i.e. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda making it the biggest multi district International service project on the African continent.
  • It involved 3 rotary districts i.e. D9150, D9211 and D9212
  • The next REACT project will be held in Tanzania in 2017.