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Snapshot of Rwanda

60%

of people live below the poverty line

65

years is the average life expectancy

38%

lack access to improved sanitation

More than two decades after a devastating genocide, Rwanda is making progress in the fight against poverty. But millions still struggle to meet their daily needs—and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens many more.

A history of ethnic tension culminated in the devastating genocide of 1994, in which more than 800,000 people were killed. In the aftermath, many millions more found themselves pushed into poverty and struggling to meet their basic needs. In the decades since, Rwanda has instituted reconciliation measures to help bring healing and forgiveness between different ethnic groups in communities across the country. In many places, these measures have been successful and progress steady.

Agriculture counts for much of Rwanda’s economy. A recent focus on information and communications technology and a strong tourism sector have helped the economy to grow. From 2001 to 2014, these strong economic gains meant that the poverty rate dropped from 59 to 39 per cent (measured by the national poverty line). But that momentum plateaued between 2014 and 2017 and poverty has risen in the past few years.

President Paul Kagame was re-elected in August 2018, following an amendment to the constitution in December 2015 that allowed him to run for an unprecedented third seven-year term. While his admirer say he has done more than anyone to lift millions of Rwandans out of poverty, critics point to the suppression of criticism and the free press, violence against political opposition and a resurgent poverty rate.

As with so many developing nations, the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is only just beginning for Rwanda and the virus’s full effect remains to be seen. But distancing and isolation measures have hit the poorest people hardest and, in many cases, they can’t work at all. Thousands of families face a renewed threat of hunger and the choice between risking disease and trying to survive without a sustainable income.

For children in need, access to the basics of life—education, shelter, medical assistance, good nutrition and safe water—is difficult. It is these children that local churches are focused on, as they live out the love of Jesus and share a hope more powerful than poverty.

John Nkubana

Letter from Compassion Rwanda Director John Nkubana

Dear Sponsor, My name is John Nkubana. I am the Country Director of Compassion Rwanda. I joined Compassion Rwanda on 20 August, 2012. I’m married to my beautiful wife and we are blessed with three children: two boys and one girl. Compassion started work in Rwanda in 1980. From 1980 to 1983, we didn’t have an office in Rwanda. The office was opened in 1984. Today, we support 86,000 children from 342 local churches and 22 denominations.

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A Gift from God

Cheeky Impano was rescued from the jaws of death. Two years ago, Geraldine was at home when a man ran inside, frantic and breathless. "He had seen a baby in the bush covered in ants," says Geraldine. What Geraldine saw made her feel cold.

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Prayer requests for Rwanda

  • Pray that God would protect the people of Rwanda and the medical staff as they work to care and provide medical treatment to those diagnosed with COVID-19. Pray for peace, strength and perseverance as they risk their own safety to care for others.
  • Pray also for the families who are unable to work and put food on the table because of social restrictions. Pray that God would provide for them through the local church; that communities would band together in such troubled times and care for each other.
  • Pray for local staff as they continue to care for the most vulnerable as much as they can, given the restrictions they face because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Ask for God’s wisdom and protection to be on them as they reach out to the children and their families.
  • Pray that God would heal Sandrine, aged six, who was diagnosed with cancer. Pray that she will be able to access treatment. Pray for wisdom for her doctors, strength for her family, and God’s love to pour out on this little girl.
  • Pray for Benitha, aged nine, as she is going to counselling to help her with the domestic violence she witnessed in her family. Pray for healing and protection for her and her family. Lift up all of the vulnerable families across the country who are made more vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse because of COVID-related movement restrictions.
  • The Compassion Rwanda office is thanking God for the success of the Free Indeed Campaign that focused on the fight against drug abuse. Please also lift them up as they formulate a strategy to address the rising national rate of teenage pregnancies. The government is working with them in this endeavour; pray for a strong partnership and workable solutions.

Stories from Compassion in Rwanda

13 May, 2019

A Miracle Meeting Means These Twins are with their Loving Mum

Francoise faced a choice that no mother should ever be forced to make: hold her children, and watch them die? Or abandon them and hope someone would provide for them?.. Read more

12 Apr, 2018

What Possessions Do Children Living in Poverty Treasure Most?

From remote, isolated tribal communities to bustling cities and crowded slums, 10 children in our Child Sponsorship Program share their treasured possessions. These are their beautiful, surprising and funny answers... Read more

29 Nov, 2016

What do Pregnant Women Pack in their Hospital Bag?

Preparing for a new baby should be exciting. But mums living in poverty often have a different experience to our own. Take a peek into the hospital bags of three Australian mums-to-be and one expectant mum from Rwanda... Read more