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Rwandan Leader Hope Tumukunde to Visit Vermont

by Joyce Kahn
Hope Tumukunde,Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs. Photo courtesy of Hope Tumukunde.
Hope Tumukunde,Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs. Photo courtesy of Hope Tumukunde.

As part of remembrance activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a 100-day period of terrifying ethnic strife that claimed up to one million lives, Rwandan civil leader Hope Tumukunde will visit Vermont from May 12 to May 16.
Tumukunde’s four-day visit to Vermont acknowledges close ties that have been built up between Rwanda and the Green Mountain State over the past 10 years. During that period there have been a number of exchanges between Rwanda and Vermont, with Rwandans visiting and sometimes studying here, and with Vermont students, teachers, health professionals and others travelling to Rwanda and working on a number of projects there. As part of Tumukunde’s visit to Vermont she will be speaking on such subjects as reconciliation and the role of women in political power in post-1994 Rwanda.
Ms.Tumukunde is the elected Vice Mayor for Social Affairs in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital and largest city of one million people. Prior to that, she served for four years as one of seven commissioners at the Rwanda National Human Rights Commission. She was previously the provincial governor for Kigali-Rural province and later the southern province. She has held several posts primarily in the local government sector and has been instrumental in the local government reform process. She has been active in human rights and women’s organizations in Rwanda and serves on the boards of several organizations such as the Rwanda Local Development Support Fund (RLDSF), the Rwanda Tourism Institute (RTI), and the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA).
Ms. Tumukunde has a master’s degree in public administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and was the 2008 convocation speaker. She first graduated from Makerere University in Kampala in 1999 with a bachelor of science in psychology and mathematics.
The purpose of her visit is “to further nurture and extend the good working relationships already taking place between many Vermonters and the people of Rwanda,” according to Dr. Glenn Hawkes, who for a long time lived in central Vermont. Hawkes is director of the Ward Brook Center now located in Danvers, MA and has been a principal organizer of Tumukunde’s upcoming Vermont visit.
When asked what he hopes might materialize from Tumukunde’s visit to Vermont, he said he sees the visit as a chance to thank Tumukunde for the way she has welcomed Vermont visitors to Rwanda. He hopes her visit will, in his words, “strengthen the networking opportunities she has always offered to others.” He is hoping that Vermonters will be able to meet Ms. Tumukunde, listen to her speak and learn from her firsthand. “This,” said Hawkes, “is a privilege that many Vermonters have experienced when working with her in Rwanda.”
Hope Tumukunde’s schedule and presentations, all of which are free and open to the public:
Monday, May 12, noon at the Montpelier Rotary Club
She will speak on:
“The Role of the Rotary in Rwanda’s Recovery, 1994–2014”
Tuesday, May 13, 7:30 p.m. at the Beth Jacob Synagogue
“Reconciliation in Rwanda, 1994–2014”
Wednesday, May 14, 7 p.m. at Burlington’s Contois Auditorium
“Women in Political Power in Post–1994 Rwanda”
For further information about the Ward Brook Center, please phone
Dr. Glenn W. Hawkesat (978) 774-3547.