The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are visiting projects and initiatives in Rwanda ahead of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. This is the first visit to Rwanda by a member of the Royal Family.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
Their Royal Highnesses visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial: a place where survivors can grieve for their lost loved ones and remember them as well as a museum where both local and international visitors can learn about the history and consequences of the genocide.
They viewed exhibits including personal effects and photographs of victims of the Genocide and ‘the children’s room’, which displays details and photographs of children who were killed. The memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 of the 800,000-1,000,000 victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Village of Hope
Their Royal Highnesses met residents in the Village of Hope where they heard the testimonies of survivors of the genocide. They spoke to members of Rwanda Women’s Network which is dedicated to promotion and improvement of the socio-economic welfare of women in Rwanda and supports survivors of the 1994 genocide.
Mbyo reconciliation village is one of eight similar reconciliation villages in Rwanda, where survivors and perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi live alongside each other. The Perpetrators re-integrate into society by publicly apologizing for their crimes.
The ARCOS agroforestry site
The mission of the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) is to enhance biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources through the promotion of collaborative conservation action for nature and people.
His Royal Highness met staff and members of the local community at the site’s tree nursery.
Rwanda faces significant land degradation caused by an increasing population steeply sloping agricultural land and soil erosion. Rwanda was the first African country to declare a target for land restoration in 2011 and an Agroforestry Strategy (2017-2025) is in place.
The Commonwealth Business Forum
The Prince of Wales attended The Commonwealth Business Forum which was chaired by Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
A truly global event, the forum provides valuable opportunity for discussions on trade and investment between Presidents, Prime Ministers, senior Ministers and officials alongside private sector leaders from across the Commonwealth and beyond.
Kingali Public Library
The Duchess of Cornwall learnt more about Book Aid International’s work in Rwanda during a visit to Kigali Public Library. Her Royal Highness, accompanied by the First Lady of Rwanda, met local children, children’s book illustrators and four Gold Finalist Award Winners from the 2021 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and their accompanying teachers.
Violence Against Women and Girls event
The Duchess of Cornwall spoke at an event to promote the ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign which seeks to address violence against women and girls.
The partnership helps member countries record accurate data on the prevalence of violence, deliver grassroots projects, train community leaders, educate bystanders’ responses, and provide free to access awareness resources.
In her speech, The Duchess spoke of the warm welcome she and The Prince had received in Rwanda, before talking about the work which needed to be done globally to promote gender equality and to stamp our gender-based violence:
In the strength of our unity, we, the women and men of the Commonwealth, stand with victims and survivors, who, despite the temptation to hide away in silence, speak up so that others know they aren’t alone – whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific or the Caribbean and Americas.
The Prince of Wales visited Umusambi Village: Kigali’s first and only wildlife sanctuary.
‘Umusambi’ is the Kinyarwanda word for the endangered ‘Grey Crested Crane’ species. The village is home to 50 disabled endangered birds who were saved from the illegal wildlife trade. It is also home to 130 other bird species, and the site is filled with restored vegetation.
Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Prince of Wales spoke at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases: a day-long event to shine a light on malaria and other tropical diseases.
There was an estimated 12% increase in malaria deaths in 2020 and 6% increase in malaria cases, compared to 2019, mostly due to the impact of COVID-19 on access to essential malaria treatment and care.
Malaria continues to be a huge burden in many Commonwealth countries. Nigeria alone accounts for over a quarter (27%) of the world’s malaria cases and deaths. At CHOGM 2018, leaders pledged to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.
In his speech, His Royal Highness spoke about the power of collaboration between Commonwealth nations to get vital care to those who need it:
These efforts take bold ambition, concerted action on the ground with communities and partnerships across borders. Here, if I may say so, it is truly inspiring to see so many Commonwealth leaders talking to one another to ensure life-saving medical material and preventative supply chains can keep flowing across our borders.
Kigali Fashion Week
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended a fashion event as part of the Kigali Fashion Week at Kigali Arena.
CollectiveRw has organised Rwanda Fashion Week since 2015. It has hosted over 50 designers and creatives from across the world and has featured in major publications such as Vogue Italia, I-D magazine, and the New York Times.
The fashion show brings together emerging and established fashion designers and models, representing the five regions of the Commonwealth, to demonstrate the positive impact of creative industries in development and sustainability.
Day Three sees the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Though events and meetings have been taking place throughout the week, the formal opening is largely a ceremonial event and officially starts the Leader-level CHOGM meetings.
The Prince of Wales is attending on behalf of The Queen in her role as Head of the Commonwealth.