Latest update

Rwanda continues to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus and reported 382 active cases and 51 total related deaths on 6 December. A national curfew remains in place from 10pm to 4am and facemasks are required in public. Most businesses, including restaurants, hotels, shops and tourism operations, have reopened. International air travel has resumed, but land borders remain closed.

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COVID-19 in Rwanda

How is Compassion currently operating in Rwanda?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Child development centres in Rwanda have reopened and are welcoming children and youths to return in small groups for classes and activities.

    Staff are careful to take COVID-19 prevention measures and follow local guidelines. They have been able to deliver over 78,000 food packs and 358,000 hygiene kits to children and families. Additionally, they have helped more than 49,000 individuals obtain medical support. The Compassion Rwanda office and local staff continue to offer counselling support during this difficult season.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    Letters are currently being delivered in Rwanda, although delivery to and from your sponsored child may take a bit longer than normal. We encourage you to continue writing, as the children need words of hope and encouragement now more than ever before. Thank you for writing!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Rwanda. Sponsor gifts to children and families are being delivered as electronic cash transfers, where appropriate. Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Rwanda who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Chancelline’s skin graft would heal and infection wouldn’t redevelop in her leg.
  • Healing and a quick recovery for 16-year-old Divine, as she recovers from an eye operation.
  • Wisdom for the doctors as they treat and prevent 11-year-old Heritien from having future epileptic episodes.
  • Doctors would have the wisdom and insight they need to determine what is causing a young girl to continue to go into a coma.
  • God would bless Remy and his wife as they begin their new journey together as husband and wife.
  • God’s healing and comfort would be with Joseph as he struggles from extreme back pain.
  • God’s continued safety and protection for the children and families whose homes have been destroyed or are in areas vulnerable to flooding due to the heavy rains.
  • God would continue to bring healing and protection against COVID-19 from spreading.
Providing food relief in Rwanda

Providing food relief in Rwanda

What happens when the only source of food is snatched away by unforeseen circumstances? In the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel lost her income, unable to sell pots and charcoal stoves in the market.   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, most child development centres in Rwanda are temporarily closed. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Rwanda

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 5 visit the Compassion centre for eight hours on Saturdays.
  • Children aged 6 to 11 attend for four to six hours a week.
  • Students aged 12 and older attend for four hours a week. Centres are open for extended weekend hours during school holidays.
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Compassion Program Activities in Rwanda

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Compassion assisted children in Rwanda typically attend program activities at their local child development centre on Saturdays. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Rwanda.

9:00am - A time of prayer and devotion. Children are given porridge in the morning for breakfast before starting the first lesson.

10:30am - Break time when children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

11:00am - Social-emotional lessons ranging from conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem and a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

12:00pm - Lunch and social time. The children receive a full meal for lunch which usually consists of rice, posho (a common East African dish made with cornmeal) or Irish potatoes with beans and green vegetables.

1:00pm - Health lessons, in which children learn practical health and hygiene tips. Example topics include how to prevent malaria and HIV transmission.

2:00pm - Letter writing and career planning. Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

In addition to Compassion’s curriculum, children in Rwanda are also introduced to Rwandan national values such as self-identity, loving their country, unity, reconciliation and striving toward self-reliance. Many centres teach Rwandan cultural dance as a way of maintaining and owning Rwandan culture.

Older students receive vocational skills training in areas like computer training, carpentry, motor vehicle repair, dressmaking, cooking and hairdressing.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Rwanda

39%

of people live below the poverty line

248

mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

33%

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. For 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 admirers 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.

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