Today I am super-happy to post an interview edited along with Andrea Maffei about the Turi Kumwe Onlus. The Turi Kumwe Onlus (TK) is an active association both in Rwanda and Italy whose mission is to help the most sensible and disadvantage parts of the Rwanda’s society, mainly, but not only, children and women. Indeed, as our Philosophical School’s readers and, even more, our Philosophical Action’s members know full well, one of our long-lasting missions is to defend culture and reason through the diffusion of cultural initiatives whose values overlap ours. Therefore, when Andrea Maffei kindly asked me for a possible common project, I immediately agreed and I readily gave the green light with all the enthusiasm I have. I want to kindly and warmly thank Andrea, I wish to Dr Ilaria Buscaglia (president of the volunteer organization) all the best possible and I hope all the best for the TK in order to ground the possibility for a better condition in both Italy and Rwanda and, I would say, in the world. We badly need similar initiatives in our countries inside and outside Italy and EU. Beside, a remark is necessary: Massimiliano Pescarolo’ and Rwandan Chess Federation’s photos are breathtaking and I personally thank them for having shared them with us. Without further ado, I live the stage to the questions and, especially, to the answers. To all the people interested, I encourage them in keeping in touch directly with Turi Kumwe Onlus!
1. How do you describe the Turi Kumwe Onlus’ mission?
TK’s mission is to support small local projects in Rwanda in order to promote education and the vocational training of vulnerable groups, like women and children. In Rwanda we support women’s cooperatives and youth in their studies, and we also occasionally boost small individual business projects. In Italy, TK is concerned not only with fund-raising activities, but also with global peace education. Last year, it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi. TK organized the italian longest series of events in Italy to raise awareness about it. This year TK has broadened its educational topics, with a course about Africa (organized in collaboration with other associations), offered at Liceo Antonelli (high school) in Novara. The attempt is mainly to raise awareness about African realities, in order to allow youth to break the stereotypes often promoted by shallow media information. So far, it seems a successful format.
2. How “Turi Kumwe Onlus” would usually implement its mission? What are its methodologies?
It depends. To simplify, let’s say that the association is divided in two parts, an Italian one and a Rwandan one. Italian activities are organized by the volunteers here, while in Rwanda our president Ilaria Buscaglia, who lives there, works closely with the nuns Inshuti z’Abakene (Friends of the poor). Anyway, every project is considered and approved after a general agreement.
3. How would you describe Rwanda’s current social and political situation? Does she still track the terrible wounds of the genocide throughout 1994? Is there the possibility of a new tide of violence between the different ethnic groups?
Surely Rwanda still shows Genocide’s scars, since 1994 is not that far away. Each family has been affected by the genocide, in one way or another. Often the victims were killed by people that were their neighbors or acquaintances, even friends. So the trauma has not only been material but even psychological and, I would say, spiritual: in such a case the social fabric itself gets torn. But today I think we can exclude a possible return of that kind of violence. The names of the two ethnic groups (which weren’t actually ethnic groups at all), Tutsi and Hutu, are not pronounced anymore and everyone claims to identify himself/herself as Rwandan. Many studies have been published about the so-called ‘reconciliation’. In this process we have to say that the government holds a central role, adopting strong interventions. One of the most important projects supported by TK is the Iramiro centre (the one about also David Dolci’s video talks). I’ve been there twice and I met many children. Rwanda in general is a very young country. Children ignore if they “are Hutu” or “are Tutsi”, it’s two categories that simply have no sense to them. This fills me with hope.
4. For the SF readers, who maybe do not know Turi Kumwe Onlus, could you tell us briefly TK’s history? How did you arrive to Rwanda and why Rwanda? How did TK start?
TK was born through the idea of its president Ilaria Buscaglia, who first went to Rwanda during her university’s studies and Jerome Rugema, a survivor of 1994 Genocide, whom she met in 2007. From that synergy the organization was created. At its beginning it used to work in Uganda and Rwanda, then it eventually focused exclusively on the latter.
5. TK hosts a Team and works throughout an active team-working. What are the members’ background? What are their experiences and how would you describe the Team?
6. I saw in the TK’s website that you are active even in Italy with projects to discourage racism. What is your experience in this field? Who can participate and where?
Generally, events take place here in Novara (as the initiative of this year) or in Piedmont (as the one of last year), but if we were given a chance, we would be happy to expand even geographically! Even if our initiative about Africa doesn’t directly address racism as an isolated issue, it tackles it by providing knowledge on the political and social evolution of some African countries. We don’t have to think that the so-called civil society can or should solve those problems that politics doesn’t want to face; instead, it can play a complementary role to politics, which I think is important too. Over the last years, racism has been encouraged both openly and in a hidden way by prominent political forces. It will be overcome only by an equally strong political opposite push, by specific social and economic reforms, as well as cultural ones.
7. Going back to Rwanda, what are your next initiatives there?
We have already paid the school-fees for the youth that we support, as well as started the vocational training in sewing for a group of women. But those are the routine activities of our organization in Rwanda, happening every year. The first new activity will happen in May, when a chess training course will be offered to children at the Iramiro centre. We raised enough funds to pay the trainers and now we hope to raise more to be able to buy all materials (chess boards, basically) and to offer it to a second cohort of children, next year (it is possible to donate until the end of February!). Mr. Kevin Ganza, president of Rwandan Chess Federation (that I want to thank) says that the idea is to make sure that children acquire enough skills and passion to be able to play chess by themselves even without the presence of the instructor. Following this, TK’s next initiative will be a summer camp in Iramiro. We are organizing a group of young people to go there this summer. Some people have already shown interest. Anyway it is still a work-in-progress, so if someone is interested in it, she or he has just to contact TK on its webmail or by its social networks.
8. It could be a superficial question but I must ask for it: do you have chess projects or do you plan to do them?
Iramiro chess course will be the very first activity involving chess organized by TK. In this regard, we want to thank all those people and organizations that offered and will offer their contribution to this, either small or big. Also Scuola filosofica, with the space that they here give us, is among the stakeholders that TK really thanks. A special mention is the one for David Dolci, who with his work gave us a visibility that we wouldn’t have without him. In the future, who knows! For now, we would like to lay the foundations for a second course after this one. Then, if some association would want to work with Iramiro Chess project with a specific partnership, this would be so important not only for TK but for Iramiro’s children and maybe even for those who live in the area around the centre, lacking organized opportunities for recreation.
9. If a SF reader would like to help TK, how can he/she do it?
First, he/she could be trying to work with us as a volunteer, contributing ideas to our projects and also assisting us in the implementation of activities in Italy. Obviously it isn’t that easy for someone who doesn’t live in Piedmont or Lombardy! So this person could, by social networks, share our projects and advertise them or, if she or he wants to give an economic contribution (fundamental to develop our activities, old and new ones), he can give an offer on TK’s IBAN, easely avaiable on website. Each offer is welcome!
10. Five keywords to define yourself as association?
Enterprising, young, supportive, cooperative, rising.