Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second-smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated with more than 900 people per square mile.
According to UNICEF, there are about 100,000 children living or working on the streets in Rwanda, a legacy of war and genocide.
Over 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and depends on subsistence agriculture to meet their basic livelihoods needs. Unfortunately, soil erosion and decreasing agricultural productivity have caused food insecurity among families. 65.7 percent of Rwandan households surveyed indicated experiencing a period during the year when they do not have enough food. This means that only around 34.3 percent of Rwandan households have year-round access to sufficient food.
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Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2014.
We partnered with local churches to teach children and their families about the love of Jesus Christ and the importance of caring for others.
Child protection committees and children were trained in child rights and how to respond to incidents of child abuse.
Community members formed savings groups with our help, providing savings accounts and small business loans for people who otherwise wouldn't have access to basic financial services.
The most vulnerable children received scholarships for school fees so they could stay in school.
Community volunteers and Parent Teacher Associations were trained to strengthen the quality of education and reduce the dropout rate.
We equipped farmers with training, seeds, and livestock to help them grow more food and increase their incomes.
To reduce malnutrition, we facilitated nutrition education programs, helped families start gardens, and worked with local health partners to treat malnourished children.
Community healthcare workers were trained to identify and treat common illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhea and to promote maternal and child health.
Community care coalitions, health workers, and church leaders were equipped to provide care and emotional support for people affected by HIV or AIDS. We also trained peer educators to raise awareness of HIV prevention among young people.
World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Rwanda to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 28,100 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Rwanda. Highlights include:
World Vision assistance to Rwanda dates back to 1976; an office opened in response to the 1994 genocide. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:
Geography and people
Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second-smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated, with more than 900 people per square mile.
Known as the “land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda contains grassy uplands and mountain ranges. The climate is temperate, with cooler temperatures in the mountains.
Natural resources include gold, tin and tungsten ores, methane, hydropower, and arable land. Most Rwandans work in agriculture for a living, growing coffee, tea, bananas, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and beans, as well as raising livestock.
The ethnic heritage of Rwanda is 84 percent Hutu, 15 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Batwa. Although the Hutus and Tutsis are considered two separate ethnic groups and have a long past of ethnic conflict, many similarities exist. They speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share much of the same culture.
The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English, with Swahili often used in commerce.
Belgium took control of Rwanda in 1916 and ruled indirectly, leaving the Rwandan monarchy system in place. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi king, killing thousands of Tutsis and exiling nearly 150,000 more over the next few years. Freedom from European control came when Rwanda won independence from Belgium in 1962.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front, a group of Tutsi exiles, started a civil war in 1990. One of the worst genocides in history happened during the war between April and July 1994. In 100 days, the Hutu-led military and a militia group killed close to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
When the Tutsis later defeated the Hutu military, more than 2 million Hutu refugees fled to neighboring countries in fear of retaliation. Nearly all public systems and health services in the country collapsed.
After the genocide, Rwanda restored democratic presidential elections in 2003. In 2009, Rwanda helped the Congolese Army fight Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.