In response to the 1994 Genocide, a terrible slaughtering mainly targeted at Tutsis by extremist Hutus, Hope Shines partnered with local Rwandan NGOs working to fight social problems brought on by the Genocide, by providing assistance to orphans of the 1994 genocide and other vulnerable children in the country. After a plane carrying Rwanda’s president Habyarimana crashed on April 6, 1994, in no more than 90 days nearly 1 million people were killed, violently and cruelly. A tide of refugees fled to neighbouring countries, the DRC, then Zaire, and finally settled around Goma, creating a huge humanitarian crisis. In 1996-97 refugees returned home in massive numbers.
Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Children are very much affected. According to a UNICEF survey 99.9% of all children witnessed violence and around 70% witnessed somebody killed or injured. Only a small part of all orphans could be placed in foster families or villages for orphans. Many lived with their brothers and sisters without adult care or in the streets. As are most of the countries in Central Africa, Rwanda is affected by HIV/Aids. Approximately 13% of all Rwandans between the age of 15 and 49 are HIV infected.
Rwanda’s 1994 genocide had a profound impact on the entire society, creating a number of social problems that continue to impact the lives of people in the country today. The genocide particularly targeted men, leaving behind a large number of widows to care for children on their own, as well as many orphan-headed households led by children as young as 10. These orphans and other vulnerable children are often forced to beg for money just to be able to eat, and as they get older, the girls may resort to prostitution to meet the family’s needs. These children have no chance of going to school, trapping them in a cycle of poverty that will last throughout their lifetimes.
Rebero Orphans Center was founded in 2003. The founders, themselves orphaned by the genocide, were moved by the problems facing younger children, and decided to do what they could to provide assistance. In addition to children who were orphaned as a result of the genocide, beneficiaries also include orphans whose parents died of HIV/AIDS, children heading families whose parents are in prison for participating in the genocide, and other categories of vulnerable children.
Today the country is still striving to re-build it’s country and economy. This is where Hope Shines is impacting the community by supporting Rwanda’s future – their children. The children in our programs are going to and excelling through our programs, becoming leaders in their communities and families, forging ahead with healthy living and believing they can do anything they dream!