In Urban Rwanda
Geography & Climate
- Slightly smaller than Maryland, Rwanda is bordered by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.
- Although just south of the equator, Rwanda has a temperate climate because of its high altitude.
- Rwanda is noted for its many lakes, particularly Lake Kivu on the western border, one of the 20 deepest lakes in the world.
- The country’s terrain consists primarily of rolling hills and mountains, the highest of which is Mount Karisimbi (14,787 feet).
- A wide variety of wildlife, including rare mountain gorillas, attracts many tourists to Rwanda.
Rwandans in urban areas typically make a living by selling produce in markets or on roadsides since renting a shop is very expensive.
Others earn money by washing clothes, making the equivalent of about U.S.$1.64 per day.
About two-thirds of urban adults are unemployed, unable to provide for even the most basic needs of their families, which average four to six members.
Children at Home
The houses of families living in Rwanda’s urban areas are crowded, ramshackle buildings often made of mud and whatever other scrap material can be found.
These homes provide little protection from the elements, especially during the rainy season.
Half of all urban families have no access to adequate sanitation, and some rely on a river or other unsafe source of water for drinking, bathing and other household uses.
Issues and Concerns
- In addition to inferior housing, city-dwelling families in Rwanda suffer the health threats of poor sanitation.
- Open, running sewage and a lack of garbage collection services result in chronic illness, an especially dire situation for young children, for whom a case of diarrhea can be life-threatening.
- Stagnant pools of water, fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, lead to frequent outbreaks of malaria.
- Malnutrition is common for children in the city slums, where many families can afford only one meal a day.
- The desperation of people living in Rwanda’s urban slums also leads to rampant drug addiction, prostitution, gang activity and violent crime.
Local Needs and Challenges
Rent is very expensive, so tenants often work for their landlords as farmers, which means they have less time to farm for their own families.
Parents who cannot afford rent move frequently, and this can negatively affect their children’s performance at school and the Compassion-assisted center.
Schools and Education
- The government’s provision of primary education means that most children are able to attend some school.
- The school year starts in January and comprises three terms, ending in October.
- Despite the government’s commitment to provide education to all children, classrooms are typically poorly equipped and crowded, with one teacher to every 50 students.
- Among Rwanda’s population, only 70 percent of those age 15 and over are able to read or write. And fewer women than men are literate.
Compassion Rwanda works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and we provide additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion serves children in Rwanda’s urban areas through local, church-based child development centers. These centers are havens of love and learning for registered children.
Here, children receive nutritious meals, hygiene training, and tutoring to attain standard academic milestones. They are also encouraged to develop their talents and abilities.
Most important, children learn about God’s love and the gift of salvation in Christ.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to urban Rwanda’s children in need, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the help and hope that Rwanda’s impoverished urban children need to look forward to a brighter future
- the tuition, uniforms and supplies they need to attend school, as well as extra lessons and tutoring
- literacy lessons for caregivers, as well as training in such marketable skills as tailoring, hairdressing, hotel cooking and embroidery
- micro-loans for eligible caregivers to start their own businesses and better provide for their families
- training about the love and Word of God. Many have decided to follow Christ.