in Community Development - 4 min read
On the Field in Rwanda: From Tragedy to Transformation
Rwanda, April 1994 . . . I’ll never forget it.
During 100 nightmarish days and nights, nearly 1 million Tutsi men, women, and children were mercilessly slaughtered by the machetes of their own Hutu neighbors. The world was left in shock as the news images caught up with what had been happening in Rwanda and the horrors of genocide finally began to emerge.
Reports estimate that over a million children were orphaned as a result of the genocide. Thousands were infected with HIV/AIDS as a result of unspeakable intimidation tactics used to humiliate Tutsi women, who would then give birth to HIV-positive children. The aim was to totally demoralize the Tutsis, destroying their lives, their dignity, and the future of the next generation.
Rwanda is literally a nation of survivors, comprised of the millions who have been orphaned, widowed, or simply left behind. It’s a place in desperate need of forgiveness, restoration, and hope—a place that feels the sting of having been forgotten by the rest of the world in their greatest time of need.
World Help has been working in Rwanda for more than 15 years investing in sustainable projects that allow for real and lasting transformation. It’s been absolutely incredible to witness the reconciliation taking place among victims and perpetrators, and to see broken communities equipped to face the future full of potential . . . futures filled with hope. You can read about some of our ongoing programs here.
World Help’s Regional Director of Africa Cyrus Mad-Bondo is on the field in Rwanda right now, leading one of our dedicated volunteer teams from Thomasville, Georgia, and overseeing the development of dozens of remarkable projects.
The team is already busy visiting children in our sponsorship program and looking for new ways to invest in the lives of children who have been drastically impacted by the effects of the genocide. Instead of despair and sadness, they are seeing smiles and laughter, witnessing firsthand how help and hope have worked together to restore life and freedom for these children.
They are traveling to see wells and water projects built through causelife that are providing clean water to impoverished communities. These are places where disease and hardship used to destroy the people who lived there. Now the entire community has a sustainable resource, allowing their children time to attend school and affording their families the chance to escape from the debilitating effects of water-related illnesses.
At Hope Village, they will meet widows who are being cared for and given the opportunity to receive vocational training. Broken women are healing and are being equipped to provide for their children, creating dignity while avoiding dependency. They will also experience the impact of Liberty University’s Restore Rwanda initiative, which has funded a newly completed school building where the children at this village will be able to attend school—some for the very first time!
The work that’s being done in Rwanda exemplifies the power of partnership and the limitless potential that is unlocked when people decide to invest in the lives of others. This group from Thomasville, along with the students from Liberty, are prime examples of people who have responded with what I believe is true compassion—going beyond sympathy and pity . . . to faith in action.
Thousands of Rwandans have been eternally impacted by these teams. What was meant for evil is now being used for good. Lives that were once destroyed are now being rebuilt with hope.
God is working in Rwanda in incredible ways . . . and I believe this is only the beginning!
Stay up to date about what we are doing on the ground in Rwanda by following us on twitter.