|Who are the people?|
Rwanda's population of close to 9 million is made up almost entirely of two people groups, the majority Hutus and the minority (but politically dominant) Tutsis. Despite many similarities, the two groups have a long history of bitter conflict.
Over a three-month period in 1994, nearly 1 million Rwandans, most of them Tutsis, were killed in the largest genocide Africa has seen in modern times. Communities were torn apart as neighbor killed neighbor, leaving many orphaned children and separated families. This devastating event shocked the world and left an indelible mark on Rwandan society. Today, political and ethnic tensions continue to challenge peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts in communities throughout the nation.
Rwanda, which is roughly the size of the state of Maryland, is the second smallest country in Africa and also the most densely populated. About 90 percent of its people are engaged in agriculture. Most are subsistence farmers who grow coffee, tea, bananas, and a variety of other crops. Unfortunately, the ongoing effects of the conflict have had a crippling effect on Rwanda's economy. Nearly two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line.
Education is essential to Rwanda's recovery and the future of its children. With only about two-thirds of the population able to read and write, the need for improved educational opportunities is great.
What is it like to live there?
|Located in central Africa, Rwanda is a small, mountainous country. The climate is generally warm, though cooler in the mountain regions. Noted for its wildlife preserves, including the Kagera and Volcano National Parks, Rwanda has set aside proportionately more land for animal habitat than any other African nation. |
The ethnic war decimated Rwanda’s government, social, and economic infrastructures. More than 1 million people died, and many children were orphaned. Most of the population, particularly women, was left in severe poverty.
As refugees continue to return, many fear that new conflicts will undermine any progress that has been made in stabilizing and rehabilitating Rwanda’s economy and its people. Reconciliation is key to rebuilding Rwanda and restoring peace and productivity.
Where World Vision is working, living conditions are desperate. Families simply cannot meet their children’s basic needs, including nutritious food, safe shelter, education, health care, and trauma counseling. Working alongside families in the communities that both ethnicities now live, World Vision is helping Rwandans move beyond the recent atrocities to experience new life.
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