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In Rwanda

Country update

This video was released in July 2022.
If you've been inspired to sponsor a child from Rwanda, visit our sponsorship page.

Pray for Rwanda

Pray with us for:

God’s protection over vulnerable children and families in Rwanda

God’s provision for families affected by natural disasters

Endurance for staff and church partners ministering in communities

Did you know?

On the last Saturday of the month, the entire population of Rwanda participates in three hours of community improvement projects. The practice is called Umuganda.

Sponsor a child in Rwanda

Child sponsorship with Compassion is a unique opportunity to provide a child with food, clean water, shelter, clothing and medical care.

Life in Rwanda

Official Country Name: Republic of Rwanda

Capital City: Kigali

Population: More than 13.8 million

Official Languages: Kinyarwanda

Life expectancy: Male 64 years, female 68 years

Population with access to safe drinking water: 12%

Infant mortality rate: 30 deaths / 1,000 live births

Percentage of children under the age of 5 underweight: 7.7%

Adult literacy rate: Male 79%, female 73%

Religion: Approximately 40% of the population are Roman Catholic, 36% are Protestant, 2% are Muslim, 22% are of another/unspecified religion or none

Percentage living on less than $2.15 a day: 52.0%

Source: CIA World Factbook, International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2022 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State

The land that now makes up Rwanda was initially settled by the Twa people, a hunter-gatherer group, closely followed by the Hutu people sometime between the 5th and 11th centuries.

The Tutsi people began settling in the area at the start of the 14th century, and a social hierarchy began to form where the Tutsi minority ruled over the Twa and Hutus. This persisted until the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century.

From the late 1800s to 1918, Rwanda was part of German East Africa before power shifted, and it was administered by Belgium until Rwanda gained independence in 1962. During this time, the traditional system of inequality between the minority ruling Tutsi and the Hutu was exacerbated.

In 1959 tensions grew, and the Rwandan monarchy was overthrown by a Hutu revolution. As a result, 300,000 Tutsi were forced out of the country, many were killed, and power was transferred to an all-Hutu provisional government.

Ethnic violence continued throughout the late 20th century. On 10 April 1994, the Rwandan genocide began with 100 days of terrifying and systematic slaughter. Every day, almost 10,000 people were killed, primarily Tutsi and some Hutu moderates. Many Rwandans fled across the border to escape the violence.

The genocide left huge scars on the country. 50% of the remaining population were children, more than 800,000 were orphaned, and 20,000 were in child-headed households.

Today, Rwanda has vowed to learn from the past and has developed a system of good governance, zero tolerance for corruption and promotion of gender equality. 56% of all parliamentarians are women, the highest proportion of female representation in the world.

Rwanda has a rich history of storytelling, weaving and basketry. Historically, the skill of a person’s basket weaving was a way that families could express their social status. The indigenous group called the Pygmy Twa are renowned for their pottery.

Rwandan musical instruments include homemade xylophones, stringed instruments and drums. Singing and dancing accompany important life events such as the birth of a baby, marriage, death, harvest, hunting, and the ceremonies that go with them.

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda, and the first language of most people. Many people also speak French or English. Kinyarwanda: Mwaramutse. (Good morning.), Bite? (How are you?), Muraho (Hello), Witwande? (What's your name?), Nitwa ... (My name is ...), Murakoze. (Thank you.)

Sports and Games
Football is Rwanda’s most popular sport. Basketball and volleyball are also played by an increasing number of people in the country.

Typical Foods
Rwandans eat bananas, legumes, sweet potatoes, maize, cassava and potatoes.

Rwandans value education highly, and parents see it as an essential step to a brighter future for their children. In sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda is one of the top-performing countries in terms of education.

Although nearly every child enrols into primary school, only 71% of children complete their primary education. Classrooms are often too crowded, with an average of 62 students for every qualified teacher. Although there are relatively equal numbers of boys and girls in classrooms, girls are more likely to drop out of school.

When it comes to further education, far fewer girls are enrolled in technical, vocational, and tertiary education. The challenges are greatest in rural areas where access to teachers and resources is limited.


Source: UNICEF

Approximately 40% of the population are Roman Catholic, 36% are Protestant, 2% are Muslim, 22% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
The Rwandan constitution allows for freedom of religion, and there is no state religion. The law requires religious groups and faith-based organisations to obtain legal status before they can operate. The law states that anyone who interferes with a religious ceremony or those who are conducting it can be imprisoned for up six months.
Students in public primary school and the first three years of secondary school study world religions, ethics, and citizenship. The government subsidises some schools affiliated with religious groups.
Students attending government-subsidised schools have the right to worship according to their beliefs during the school day, as long as their religious groups are registered in the country and the students’ worship practices do not interfere with their learning.
Statistics from the International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2022 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State

Providing support in Rwanda

Meet Beatrice. She’s a foster mother to 15 children! Her story reminds us that we don’t need money to act with kindness. After surviving the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Beatrice believed God spared her life for

Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.