This weekend I was browsing through articles on the New Times’ homepage and came across one with the headline “Veterans get life skills.” It discusses how the RDRC (Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission) has been sending former combatants to vocational schools to be trained for occupations. The RDRC then gives them starter kids to help them begin work in their own business once they have received this training. So far, 7200 ex-combatants have been sent to these vocational schools and are being trained in areas such as carpentry, brick-laying, welding, construction, electronics, and hair dressing. They are told to not sell the tools they receive. The RCDC stresses that they are “here to ensure that you will not start from scratch” and has been praised for the “continued support of the former soldiers.”
While reading, I kept thinking about how the New Times is sponsored by the current government and how this bias may have influenced the material and quotes included in the article. The former rebel that the author chose to quote says that she “no longer [has] an excuse” to not be employed, which has negative implications towards most of the demobilized soldiers. One head of a vocational school comments on the ex-soldiers’ “diligent… effort to get a better life” and praises the RDRC for “helping to make their dreams a reality.” After reading both government and non-government sources in class this week, as well as critiques about the Rwandan government’s censorship of information, I’ve now become particularly conscious of who writes the material I read. I find myself wondering how accurate or how biased the writing is, and that’s a bit disorienting especially when it’s a seemingly simple article. This particular New Times article made me think about how the current government feels towards “ex-combatants” and if they usually tend to treat them differently than other civilians. This article spoke extremely highly of the RDRC and presented veterans as generally not being well-off or remarkable members of society.
check out the article for yourself at http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15265&a=63755