UN World Food Programme

Life Comes Full Circle in Rwanda, A Staff Members Story

Laurent Nsabimana (L) sits with Akeza Georgia aged 2 years and her mother Alinne Mukeshimana. Georgia is under  the supplementary feeding programme in Kigeme camp.

This week we celebrated World Humanitarian Day—a time to recognize our staff who are in the field, every day, building a better world for everyone. For some WFP staff, like father of two Laurent Nsabimana Nzajyibwami, it is not just a job but a way of life that he knows all too well.

MUGOMBWA - As he walks through the refugee camp, regularly stopping to greet beneficiaries, it is clear that Laurent Nsabimana Nzajyibwami is someone who not only loves his job but understands the needs and concerns of those he serves. This is because not only has he been the Senior Programme Assistant for WFP’s office in Huye, in the southern province of Rwanda, for 8 years but because he has been a refugee.

“My background as a refugee pushes me to always do my best in the camp. I have compassion and a big heart to serve,” explained Laurent. “Whenever I am in the camps I recall how we had nights and days without food and other means for our living. I know how these people feel,” he added.

Giving back

Laurent grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where his father fled to from Rwanda. On returning to his homeland in 1994 he completed a degree in social sciences in 2004. He then fulfilled his dream of working for a humanitarian organization so that he could serve the needs of others.

“I love my job, though it’s demanding. I get up every morning, knowing that the day is challenging, but still the sense of humanitarian drives me to achieve more. In my mind, I know that acting now to achieve my organization’s goal is complementary to the ‘live-today’ philosophy for a refugee,” he said.

Laurent stands infront of Mugombwa camp

Laurent is part of a team responsible for the efficient delivery of food and non-food items to 25,500 refugees in two refuge camps in Kigeme and Mugombwa, located in the southern province of Rwanda. The newly opened Mugombwa camp, is home to 6,700 refugees from DRC and is one of five camps in Rwanda whose residents depend entirely on WFP food assistance.

As well as monthly general food distribution, WFP provides additonal nutritional support through the camps' health clinics to the most vulnerable.  This includes supplementary feeding of children under two years of age, pregnant and lactating women, malnourished people living with HIV/AIDS and moderately acutely malnourished children between two and five years of age. Children attending primary school are also provided with mid-morning porridge.

What does it mean to be a humanitarian?

“Being born to give hope to the hopeless whenever it’s needed. No rewards in return, just make sure someone’s life is touched and changed at the end,” said Laurent with a broad smile.