FMV‘s legal representative takes a positive view of Rwanda’s business climate. “A country where it’s good to live and invest, a country of values in many areas of life, such as generosity, love, tolerance, trust, perspicacity, patience, equity and wisdom”, says Ferdinand Ndayiragiye in an interview with the FMV communications unit.
In December 2023, Rwanda welcomed 153 asylum seekers of five nationalities: Sudanese, Eritreans, Somalis, Ethiopians and South Sudanese evacuated from Libya. The Ministry in charge of disaster and emergency management specifies that these asylum seekers will be housed at the Gashora transit center in eastern Rwanda, where others are being accommodated.
According to the Ministry, a total of 2,059 evacuees were received in 16 batches, 68% of whom were resettled in third countries: Canada 381, Sweden 255, Norway 193, USA 168, France 141, Finland 187, Netherlands 82 and Belgium 26.
Ferdinand Ndayiragije, one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Rwanda, speaks of the fine business climate enabling everyone to contribute, including refugees and asylum seekers, to a better world.
For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?
R/ My name is Ferdinand Ndayiragije, I’m married to one woman and have three children. I’m Burundian, living and working in Rwanda, President of the Executive Committee and Legal Representative of the Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante (FMV).
Before arriving in Rwanda and long before the creation of FMV, I was President of the Survivors’ Commission in the Association pour la lutte Contre le Génocide (AC Génocide-Cirimoso), an association working and active in Burundi. In 2020, I went to work in the Central African Republic (CAR) for a humanitarian organization in Bangui and Ouham Pendé in the north-west of the Central African Republic.
What is the vision, mission and values of your organization?
A/ The vision of the Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante is to do everything possible to eradicate poverty in all its forms, satisfy the needs of the population and guarantee prosperity for all. The FMV’s mission is to educate about genocide and assist survivors and victims of genocide and/or other acts of serious human rights violations.
The “Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante” is based on the following values: memory, education and prevention. We want to contribute to a better world, in the eradication of poverty in all its forms.
What prompted you to set up this organization in Rwanda?
R/ For anyone who has had the chance to visit Rwanda, they have found a country where it’s good to live and invest, a country of values in many areas of life such as generosity, love, tolerance, trust, insight, patience, fairness, wisdom.
In 2016, I met an old, wise, retired Belgian man, who told me “I’m Belgian, retired. I came to live the rest of my life here in Rwanda, and if I die, I want to be buried here in Rwanda”. I asked him why he took this decision, and he replied: “I’ve traveled a lot and visited quite a few countries, I’ve never found a well-organized country like Rwanda, a country where there is peace, a country where the leadership ensures the safety of all citizens, nationals and foreigners alike, like here in Rwanda”.
In 2017, with my friends who found that we are in a country where it is good to live and invest, with the aim of humanitarian action and job creation, we exploited a law relating to national non-governmental organizations and created the FMV.
What is the FMV‘s contribution in this country or in the Great Lakes region?
R/ In Rwanda, as elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, there are public institutions and organizations active in the fields of education, health and development, to name but a few. FMV is an NGO that promotes the well-being of refugees, displaced persons, returnees and/or immigrants, and for the reasons already mentioned, we undoubtedly constitute, alongside other partners, an added value in the country and in the region.
Rwanda is organized in such a way that everyone is called upon to contribute to any action aimed at fostering the development of society, for the benefit of all Rwandans, visitors or foreigners, without any discrimination whatsoever.
There are tensions between Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC. How do you feel about this?
R/ In the Central African Republic, I had to work in an area under rebel control, I met a rebel leader and he said to me “Welcome sir, do your job properly, don’t interfere in Central African politics, we’re watching you with a magnifying glass”. So, when it comes to certain issues, it’s sometimes better to keep calm, analyze the situation and work out effective mechanisms for intervening as a humanitarian in the face of feelings of anger and sadness.
What is your contribution on behalf of your organization?
R/ We can only appeal for peace and love. We’ve learned that peace is based on love, which means seeing other people’s needs as my own. We are fortunate to have many religions in the region, they preach love of neighbour, religions can help, NGOs and other institutions active in the region can support the efforts of states.
In 2021, we have submitted a proposal for a peace education project in border localities between the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience ICSC to support members of the African Sites of Conscience network in peace-building in the region. This is an offer we have at our disposal that can be exploited at any time if we find an interested potential donor or backer. I hope that the Great Lakes region will have true peace before long.
Have you already carried out other similar projects?
R/ Of course. The list is long:
Examples include leadership training, peace education, non-violent communication, guided tours of memorial sites for the genocide committed against the Tutsis in 1994, such as the one in Kigali, awareness-raising campaigns to combat juvenile delinquency and GBV, and so on.
There are also projects on inter-religious tolerance, the fight against women’s precariousness with a focus on menstrual hygiene, community recovery projects, especially for refugees in the southern province of Rwanda, and the schooling of refugee children, not forgetting a major project we are running on “Community Dialogue and Human Rights Education”.
The Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante (FMV) is an organization under Rwandan law, founded on the values of Remembrance, Education and Prevention.