By Maxwell Gomera
A Journey Together: Celebrating Moments, Embracing Change
November 6, 2023
As I sit to pen this letter, my heart is heavy yet full of admiration, gratitude, and awe for each of you. Today, I share the news that, while not entirely unexpected, still weighs on me: I will be stepping down as your Resident Representative at UNDP Rwanda at the end of January. You may have heard whispers; consider this the official confirmation of what has been the “worst-kept secret.”
From the moment I stepped onto this beautiful land, I knew we were part of something far greater than ourselves. The journey we’ve taken together has been nothing short of remarkable, thanks to your tireless commitment and the spirit of the Rwandan people—resilient, dignified, and full of pride.
Our Achievements: A Retrospective
We’ve made history together:
- Our work has transformed the lives of Rwandans in every corner of the country. People like Marié José, empowered by new cooking energy and hydroponic systems, can send their children to school well-fed. Girls can now walk safely without the looming fear of assault.
- Initiatives like YouthConnekt and Hanga PitchFest have offered thousands a platform to connect, innovate, and grow.
- The launch of Makerspace and Unipods has revolutionized learning and information access, while our support for Timbuktoo has fostered local entrepreneurship.
- Through the development of e-courts, we’ve expanded access to justice, making it easier for all Rwandans to have their voices heard.
- The 3D milling plant for prosthetic limbs has made daily life more accessible for our differently-abled brothers and sisters.
- We also made smart walking sticks for those who are visually impaired.
- Digital tools, like the Carbon Facility, have propelled Rwanda into a more sustainable future.
- And who could forget IremeInvest? Our initial investment of $300,000 mushroomed into a whopping $250 million, powering green transformations across sectors.
On a professional note, I’ve been thrilled to see many of you evolve into thought leaders and change-makers. Over a dozen of you have penned opinion pieces that are not just making waves but changing tides.
The recent promotions and international assignments of seven among you have made me incredibly proud. You’ve shown that the work we do here prepares you for the global stage.
I’m also incredibly proud of those who have left UNDP Rwanda to take up leadership roles elsewhere in this country. Let’s not forget our interns. They’re not just here to learn; they are here to revolutionize, challenge, and invigorate.
On a Personal Note
You’ve given me more than a team; you’ve given me a family. Remember Godelieve, my first chauffeur to Amayaga? She was my culinary gateway into Rwandan cuisine. She invited me into her house in Nyamirambo to share a meal fit for kings with her family. I will never forget that, and many of you followed the same thereafter.
Ah, our running club! Who knew sprinting at lunchtime could transform ‘the plateau’ and maybe even shave a few inches off our waists?
Some of you introduced me to Urwagwa. The drink may be traditional, but let’s just say my reaction was... unforgettable.
Speaking of unforgettable, how could I forget your collective ribbing about my not-so-polished work shoes? Or your playful jabs at my ‘fantastic’ catchphrases?
And yes, thanks to my family’s support and YouTube tutorials, I proved at our Retreat that Resident Representatives can indeed dance! I’m expecting your votes on ‘Dancing with the UN Stars,’ should that ever be a thing.
We’ve come together in solemnity as well during the annual commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Your resilience is awe-inspiring, reminding me of the African saying: ‘You can blame a person for knocking you down, but you can’t blame them for staying down.’ Rwanda has taught me that very often, staying down is a choice.
Our story was never about its final chapter but about the thrill, the challenges, the highs, and the lows of the entire book. Rwanda is not just a place I’ve worked; it’s a narrative I’ve lived and loved. It’s the best country in the world, not in spite of its challenges but because of how it has risen from them.
In solidarity and boundless admiration,
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