An image of Rwanda Where Rwanda is in the world.

Rwanda is a country of beautiful green mountains and valleys, famous for the mountain gorillas that can be found hiding in the dense jungle that covers the mountain slopes.

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Compassion began its work in Rwanda in 1980.


Here are some words in Rwanda's official language, Kinyarwanda. Some Compassion children in Rwanda also speak French or English. Basic Kinyarwanda:

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Mountain gorilla

Gorillas are the world’s largest primate and are gentle with strong family ties.

Houses are often made of mud, grass and banana leaves with clay tiles and thatch used for roofs.

Living conditions

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12 million

Compassion works alongside 273 local churches in Rwanda to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

As well as green valleys and lovable gorillas, Rwanda is more recently known for a terrible genocide that damaged many families.

A genocide is where a group of people are targeted by another group of people with the intention of destroying them. In the case of Rwanda 500,000 to 1,000,000 people from the Tutsi tribe were murdered over about 100 days by the Hutu tribe. This was as much as a fifth of the country’s total population.

Countries around the world have been criticised for not stepping in to stop the murders. This violence began in 1994, so there are many people living in Rwanda today who have seen their families and friends killed.

Half of the population of Rwanda are now children; more than 800,000 are orphans and 20,000 live in child-headed households where children are left without parents. Elder siblings have grown up having to look after their brothers and sisters alone.

Flick through our photo story to find out what life is like for children living in Rwanda.

Rwanda was affectionately known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’, famous for its breathtaking scenery, plunging green valleys and endangered gorillas.

Even churches were not safe. Many Tutsi people went to the churches in the hope of finding safety, but even there they were killed.

The genocide left thousands of children homeless; many of them became street children or working in other people’s homes, especially in the capital, Kigali.

Almost half of all children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition as they can’t get enough of the right foods to keep them healthy.

Many children in Rwanda begin primary school but do not finish as they’re needed to help with work.

This is Uwimana Grace, born in a refugee camp in the Congo where her family went during the genocide.

Here, the eleven year old is playing with her siblings outside their house in Kigali. She goes to a Compassion project and dreams of becoming a teacher.

Rwanda’s children can bring hope to the sadness of the genocide. They bring hope of a happier and more peaceful future.

Compassion works to place orphans in families and provide a place of safety for all children.

Jean’s father was imprisoned for twelve years because of his involvement in the genocide. His mother describes Jean’s Compassion sponsor as "the right hand of this family" during that time, supporting the family with gifts that allowed them to buy cattle to sustain themselves with.

Pray for peace to continue in Rwanda.

For God to show children in the Compassion projects just how much he loves them.

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Rwandan franc

The Rwandan franc can be subdivided into 100 centimes.

Compassion now supports more than 69,500 children in Rwanda.

How can you encourage your sponsored child?

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Why not write to them and mention some of the facts you’ve found here. Ask them questions about what it’s like to live in Rwanda.

Rwandans eat bananas, legumes, sweet potatoes, maize, cassava and potatoes. Try making this Rwandan beef stew:

Recipe: Rwandan beef stew

Rwandan beef stew Ingredients (adult help needed)
  • 900g of stewing beef, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 large green plantains, peeled and cut into 3cm slices
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, deseeded and chopped thickly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of chicken seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for cooking
  1. Brown the beef and onion in oil in a heavy casserole dish.
  2. Rub the plantain slices with the lemon juice and add them to the browned beef and onions.
  3. Cook for five minutes over low heat, stirring constantly to make sure they do not stick.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and enough water to cover.
  5. Put a lid on the casserole dish and cook over low heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  6. Add more water if needed and stir occasionally so the ingredients do not stick.

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In one of Rwanda’s national parks, the Nyungwe Forest, there are thirteen different species of monkeys which is a quarter of Africa’s monkey species.

What is a gorilla's favourite cookie?

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Chocolate chimp!

Information sources: The CIA World Fact Book 2011, Compassion International, Human Development Report, BBC, BBC Nature, Wikipedia