From late-September through mid-October, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world hosted voting events to help U.S. citizens overseas participate in the 2012 U.S. elections. On September 28, 2012, U.S. Embassy Kigali hosted an "Absentee Voting Week Celebration." More than 250 U.S. citizens visited the embassy compound to vote, pose for photos next to the ballot box, and hear the Kigali International Community School (KICS) band perform "Grand Old Flag,""America the Beautiful," and other American classics.
Students played another important role at the event by training designated official voting assistance volunteers at fvap.gov prior to the event and using their new-found knowledge to volunteer at the voting table. These students explained absentee voting regulations and distributed write-in ballots and ballot request forms. They also helped promote the event by distributing flyers at school, church, and club meetings.
The embassy provided juice, coffee, tea, and donuts, which were especially popular, and were supplied by African Bagel Company (ABC), a local cooperative that trains disadvantaged women in marketable skills. Vendors added to the festive atmosphere. A cooperative of former street children sold handmade cards, a local sewing cooperative sold hand-sewn skirts and handbags, and the embassy's employee association sold out of U.S. Embassy t-shirts. ABC also sold their famous bagels, salsa, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. There was even a photo area where citizens could have their photo taken depositing their ballots in the box under the embassy seal and next to the U.S. flag.
The event could not have taken place without the enthusiastic support of the expatriate community in Rwanda, including community workers and students at the international schools. We appreciate all the U.S. citizens who spent their morning with us celebrating one of our most treasured values: active participation in our country's democratic process. We especially thank the U.S. citizens who volunteered and the local embassy staff who made this event possible.