Kigali, 05 July 2011

The United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Stuart Symington today called on President Kagame to bid him farewell as his 3-year tour of duty comes to an end. His stay in Rwanda has been extremely successful, and his tenure characterized by his great contribution to the strengthening of relations between Rwanda and the United States.

Speaking to the press after meeting President Kagame, Ambassador Symington said: “It’s the last chance that I get to speak to the President as Ambassador of the United States. We talked about many things that have happened here and I would like all Rwandans to know how very grateful we are for the cooperation we had as we worked in areas like health, agriculture and security. I also want you to know that there are lots of people who will offer to help you but the success will always depend on what you do with that help. We have worked with many people around the world– we have provided help to many around the world but when we see what happens with the help and investments that we make here, we are proud to be part of it”.

Ambassador Symington also said that the United States is impressed by how Rwanda is moving towards relating with the region: “When you look at the way Rwanda is relating with the Democratic Republic of Congo, how Rwandan planes are flying from Rwanda to Congo Brazzaville to Mombasa and beyond, you see that Rwanda is becoming the hub that God made in the centre of Africa”. Ambassador Symington said the US was extremely proud of Rwanda’s contribution to peacekeeping in Sudan and Haiti.

Talking about achievements he had seen during his stay in Rwanda, Ambassador Symington said: “Many countries in the world are works in progress and have many challenges just like Rwanda. But the difference is that there are always changes. In the last five years in Rwanda for example, out of every a thousand children, 100 children or more would die before they turned five years. But, because of the work done by Rwandans, less than half of these die now. You did that with community health workers, medical insurance, better infrastructure, ambulances that pick up patients and take them to hospitals, better medicine- that’s just one example but if I could sum up, what’s made the biggest difference here is the way Rwandans work with others to help Rwandans and the rest of the world – the success of Rwanda has a lot to do with Rwandans themselves”.

Ambassador Symington said that what Rwanda shares with his country is the struggle by people to come together after having been drawn apart by different circumstances. “We were colonies and wanted to come together as a country. In Rwanda, you were one, you were divided and now you want to come together again.” To the youth, Ambassador Symington said that there were high expectations and they should draw the expectations and make them count. “If you are a woman in Rwanda, you expect to go to school and have a good job. If you are a farmer, you expect to make more money next year than you made last year and if you are sick, you expect to find treatment. If this country continues to have good leadership and strong institutions, these expectations will eventually count”.

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