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Umuganda: Communities and ‘Super Stars’ Join Together for a Common Purpose

Mar 02, 2015

RWAMAGANA DISTRICT, RWANDA– On Saturday January 31st, 2015, solidarity and kinship were hard at work as Rwandans joined forces for a day of “Umuganda” or “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.”  On the last Saturday of every month, Rwandans work together on community projects. On this particular Umuganda, almost 600 people worked together to build shelter for Rwandans in the Gahengeri Sector of the Rwamagana District Eastern Province. They were building it for Rwandans who fled from Tanzania, and they were joined by about 35 actors, writers, and staff members of a popular radio drama, Impano n’Impamba (“A Gift for Today that Will Last a Long Time”).

“Today we are supporting our colleagues who fled from Tanzania to have their own shelters and we are very happy to see Impano n’Impamba actors coming here to support us,” said Muhigirwa David, Executive Secretary of Gahengeri Sector. “We are now friends and we will sensitize the community to listen the drama.”

Umuganda brings Rwandans together to improve their communities, so it’s no wonder that the creators of Impano n’Impamba chose Umuganda as a perfect day to promote, teach, and discuss the drama because this radio drama aims to improve health and human rights while simultaneously entertaining the people of Rwanda.

“We shared with them what we do and why,” said Alfred Twahirwa, Head Writer and Producer for Impano n’Impamba. “Some people won prizes for answering detailed questions about Impano n’Impamba, like being able to list six characters, explain where the stories take place, or knowing the time and station for hearing the episodes.”

Impano n’Impamba is a 104-episode radio serial drama produced in Kinyarwanda that will continue to air through October of 2015. It is produced by Umurage Media Center, a Rwandan nonprofit, with assistance from Population Media Center (PMC). It uses PMC’s tested methodology for producing entertainment-education that tells engaging stories, role models behaviors, and creates lasting change on important health and human rights issues. Impano n’Impamba addresses issues such as child nutrition, adolescent reproductive health, family planning, and gender-based violence.

“It was a surprise for me to attend a community work and meet radio serial drama actors,” said Twagirumwami Simon from Gahengeri, “They are super stars.”

After laboring in the sun to build the shelters, the community work came to an end and local leaders introduced the Impano n’Impamba team and the trivia and other festivities began. A sound system was used and young children and adults had a dance and voice competition to see who had a possible future in drama and acting.

“The enthusiasm and excitement for the drama was great,” said Twahirwa. “They requested that we go back with a promotional caravan and wished for a partnership between Gahengeri citizens and the Umurage Media Center.”

In early January, a handball tournament in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, was attended by more than 4,500 people who were able to interact with the writers, producers, and actors. Much like Umuganda, it was an opportunity to share information and enjoy an afternoon of entertainment.

“Events like these help make the dramas successful and change more lives,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “The audience—the people in the communities—they are the agents of change. Our dramas catalyze that change. We hope that Impano n’Impamba continues to be ‘a gift for today that will last a long time.’”


Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 16 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world.