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Andrew Mitchell MP: Project Umubano 2008

Andrew_mitchell_2 Andrew Mitchell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, explains what the Party will be doing in Rwanda this year.

Today, over 100 Conservative volunteers will come together in Rwanda for the start of Project Umubano 2008. They will continue the work started there by the Conservative Party last summer.

The volunteers will focus on five areas: health, education, justice, the private sector, and a community centre construction project.  The volunteers include doctors, nurses, entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers, parliamentary researchers and local councillors. The Parliamentary Party is represented by ten MPs joining the project, alongside eleven Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. The Project takes place for two weeks and the volunteers cover the costs of their flights and accommodation.

The aim of the project is, above all, to make a very modest contribution to a country which represents both the best and worst of Africa: the worst because of the terrible events of 14 years ago when nearly a million people were massacred in a carefully-organised genocide; and the best because this is a country determined to break out from the shadow of its recent past, and which has made great progress since 1994. We also hope the project will help educate and inform our volunteers about the challenges of international development. We are travelling with open minds and a willingness to learn as well as to teach. For many of the volunteers last year, their time in Rwanda was a genuinely life-changing experience.

Dr_david_tibbett_2 We have 15 medical volunteers on the health project (Councillor Dr David Tibbutt who also came on Umubano 2007 is pictured), including General Practioners, an orthopaedic surgeon, ultrasound technicians and a dentist.  The GPs will be based in remote rural health clinics across the country. These clinics are the front line of the Rwandan healthcare service, and patients often walk for hours to reach them. The specialists will be based at Butare teaching hospital, helping to train staff and doctors whilst also treating patients.

We are taking 29 volunteers trained in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to work on a two-week English language training programme for Rwandese primary teachers. The training will take place at three locations across the country.  I will be leading this project, supported by Francis Maude MP, Justine Greening MP, Desmond Swayne MP and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP.   

The private sector is the key driver of Rwanda’s long-term growth and development, and will be a major focus for our volunteers. Brooks Newmark MP will spend time looking at the role of microfinance in expanding economic opportunity to everyone, including the very poorest. A team of finance experts will look at ways in which Rwanda can improve the performance of its banking system so as to foster growth and development. They will work in particular with Rwanda’s newly-established stock exchange. 

Some of our private sector volunteers will work directly with individual Rwandan businesses, offering advice on management issues. One group of volunteers will continue the project they started last year with the Rwandan tourism sector, helping to promote and market Rwanda’s tourist attractions. Our volunteers will also be teaching at the Kigali School of Finance and Banking, which aims to educate the next generation of Rwandan entrepreneurs. 

Continuing his work from last year, David Mundell MP will lead a team of 12 lawyers and volunteers in running a series of workshops in the Ministry of Justice. They will cover topics such as adopting common law from the East African Community, the English legal system and international treaties.  Some of the volunteers will lecture and teach at the newly established Institute of Legal Practice and Development, Rwanda’s main legal training centre. 

A group of volunteers led by Tobias Ellwood MP will build and decorate a community centre in Kinyinya, a community where the majority of households are orphan-headed. Part of the centre will be a multipurpose sports area for football, badminton, and volleyball.  This project is run in partnership with SURF, the Rwandan Survivors Fund. Lord Ashcroft and others have donated the funds to build this centre.

We are keen to ensure that all of the projects have a sustainable legacy. For example, last year a number of our MPs and PPCs twinned schools in Rwanda with schools in their constituencies. The project is intended to be a two-way process: a chance to share skills and to learn at first hand about life in a developing country.

The MPs participating in Project Umubano are:

  • Geoffrey Clifton-Brown - Shadow Minister for International Trade and Development
  • Tobias Ellwood - Shadow Minister for Tourism
  • Justine Greening - Shadow Minister for the Treasury
  • Jeremy Hunt - Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Mark Lancaster - Shadow Minister for International Development
  • Francis Maude - Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Andrew Mitchell - Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
  • David Mundell - Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Brooks Newmark - Assistant Chief Whip
  • Desmond Swayne - Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition 

The PPCs participating in Project Umubano are:

  • Harriett Baldwin – West Worcestershire
  • John Bell – Clwyd South
  • Ron Bell – Blackpool South
  • Rob Halfon – Harlow
  • Damian Hinds – East Hampshire
  • Chris Kelly – Dudley South
  • Pauline Latham – Mid Derbyshire
  • Wendy Morton – Tynemouth
  • Hazel Noonan – Coventry North-east
  • Mark Pawsey – Rugby
  • Maggie Throup - Solihull


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