22 Jun 2015
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Connie Britton visited Rwanda over the weekend as part of her official visit to Africa. Committed to raising awareness of UNDP’s work in poverty reduction and women’s empowerment, Britton witnessed firsthand the agency’s projects and their impact on African communities.
On Saturday, 20 June, Britton met several beneficiaries of a UNDP-supported women’s rural savings group in Gatsibo who welcomed the American actress and described how the project has improved their lives. By gaining access to credit and basic financial and investment skills, the women have been able to own property, buy cows, and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to their households.
While in Kayonza, Britton was welcomed warmly by village children before visiting a UNDP supported green village that has enabled residents to benefit from improved nutrition, sustainable use of bio-gas and agriculture.
“Your houses are beautiful, your cows are beautiful, but your singing and dancing is the most beautiful,” Britton told them.
On Sunday, 21 June, Britton toured the Gisozi genocide memorial site where she lay a wreath on the mass graves of the 1994 genocide during which approximately one million Rwandans were killed.
Later Britton was welcomed at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) headquarters where she witnessed the work of the gender desk and child protection office and learned about the progress that Rwanda has made in its campaign to eliminate gender-based violence. Such initiatives are facilitated through joint programs managed with the RNP and UNDP’s Promoting Access to Justice and Human Rights program.
The Rwanda National Union of the Deaf (RNUD), which is supported by UNDP’s Governance and Peace Consolidation Unit, was another project visited by Britton. RNUD seeks to empower deaf people, teach them employable skills and sensitize the wider population about the challenges faced by the country’s deaf population.
Britton was shown a women’s cooperative where deaf women make handicrafts and art in order to earn an income. Women who benefit from the RNUD learn skills in the beauty trade and craft-making, with some becoming accomplished artists. Britton was welcomed by the Director and staff of the RNUD and given a short lesson in sign language. After demonstrating her new “sign name”, Britton was presented with a portrait by a deaf woman who had become an artist with support of the RNUD project. Recognizing her own likeness and grateful for the gift, she beamed as she signed “thank-you” to the staff.
Britton’s visit concluded with a press conference at Mille Collines on Monday, 22 June.
Prior to her trip to Rwanda, Britton was in Kenya were she also visited UNDP projects in the country.
About Connie Britton
Connie Britton was appointed Goodwill Ambassador on 2 April 2014 at UNDP headquarters. In this role, she raises awareness on UNDP’s work in poverty eradication and women’s empowerment, advocating to both the American and global public. Throughout her career, Britton has devoted substantial time to a wide range of charity work both in the US and internationally. She also has been passionately committed to supporting women’s empowerment and women’s health issues.
UNDP, along with other UN agencies, has long enlisted the voluntary services and support of prominent individuals as Goodwill Ambassadors to highlight these causes. Their fame helps amplify the urgent and universal message of human development and international cooperation, helping to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda.