PROGRAM SITE: GATAGARA, RWANDA
Since 2009, Kids Play Int’l has offered travel enthusiasts an the opportunity to explore Rwanda and participate in an unforgettable experience through Travel with a Purpose. Following the initial trip, Kids Play Int’l launched the Let’s Play Fair! Community Sports Program in Gatagara in June 2010. Learn more about this beautiful country below.
Size 26,338 sq km slightly smaller than Maryland, US. Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January. The temperature is mild in mountains with frost and snow possible at higher altitudes. Rwanda’s terrain consists of mostly grassy uplands and hills with a mountainous altitude declining from west to east. Its lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 m and its highest point is Volcan Karisimbi which stands at 4,519 m. Rwanda is a land locked country and most of its population is rural.
Just under 10 million people live in Rwanda making it the most densely populated country in Africa. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 5.37 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 70%.
Kinyarwanda (official) which is a universal Bantu vernacular; French (official); English (official), and Kiswahili (Swahili) which is used in commercial centers.
Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, and none 1.7% (2001)
Brief Political History
In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees – many fearing Tutsi retribution – fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms – including Rwanda’s first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003 – the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali’s increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda’s efforts to escape its bloody legacy.
Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda’s fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country’s ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels, although poverty levels are higher now. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed. Despite Rwanda’s fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and obtained IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in 2005-06. Rwanda also received Millennium Challenge Account Threshold status in 2006. Kigali’s high defense expenditures have caused tension between the government and international donors and lending agencies. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap growth.
Statistics of the Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was a truly traumatic and horrifying event. It was one of the most brutal acts of murder ever committed.
• Over the course of 100 days from April 6 to July 16 1994, an estimated 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide. A recent report has estimated the number to be close to 2 million.
• During this period of terrible slaughter, more than 6 men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day. This brutally efficient killing was maintained for more than 3 months.
• There are between 300,000 to 400,000 survivors of the genocide.
• Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 100 days of genocide. Up to 20,000 children were born to women as a result of rape.
• More than 67% of women who were raped in 1994 during the genocide were infected with HIV and AIDS. In many cases, this resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ men as a weapon of genocide.
• There are 10 times as many widows than widowers – almost 50,000 widows of the genocide.
• 75,000 of survivors were orphaned as a result of the genocide
• Of those that survived the genocide over half the children stopped their schooling, because of poverty.
• 40,000 survivors are still without shelter, many whose homes were destroyed in the genocide.
• 7 in 10 survivors earn a monthly income of less than 5000 Rwandan Francs (Equivalent to 8 (eight) American Dollars)