Domicien Nzabanza 66, a father of seven from Bushekeri sector in Nyamasheke district had for a long time relied on herbalists whenever he was sick.
Until the last two years, Nzabanza had never walked into a formal health center to consult on health complications.
He tells KT Press that sometimes herbalists could prescribe wrong concoctions that would instead aggravate his sickness, yet he couldn’t afford formal medication.
In 2009, government introduced Vision Umurenge Program-VUP to lift citizens out of extreme poverty. VUP provides cash, small loans and paid public works.
Nzabanza was in 2013 selected by local leaders, to benefit from VUP. Every month, he gets Rwf 12,000 ($17) which he uses to pay for annual health insurance for him, two grandchildren and wife.
“My cell chief brings this money from Kigali. There is no doubt, it’s from President Paul Kagame,” Nzabanza explains.
With direct cash support from VUP, Nzabanza employs a seasonal worker on his garden (less than a hectare) where he grows beans and cassava and finds supplementary income.
Nzabanza’s life has drastically turned around like 1 million Rwandans from 161,821 households that have been lifted out of poverty.
Rwanda is looking at VUP as one of potential programs that will decrease poverty from 44.9% in 2014 to 24% by end of 2015.
Initially, it started with Rwf4 billion ($5.8 million) budget, supporting only 30 sectors. Today, VUP expanded to cover 240 sectors with Rwf22.5 billion ($30 million).
Beneficiaries buy livestock, get manure for their land and sell offsprings for other needs. They even save to start a business. In Gisagara district, beneficiaries made little savings and built a storied building.
VUP is a major reason citizens are basing on to press for amendment of the constitution to lift presidential term limits.
About 4million signed petitions submitted to parliament, prompted legislators to dispatch across the country seeking solid views from citizens on amendment of the constitution especially article 101 that provides for a non-renewable two 7-year presidential terms.
“Kagame deserves to lead this country for eternity because no other president has ever done this to me since my childhood,” said Stefano Mazimpaka 67, from Ngoma district in Eastern Rwanda.
Speaking before legislators, elderly VUP beneficiaries evoke emotions; some kneel and others shed tears of joy.