Rwanda is a small nation in both geographical size and population, and the most densely populated mainland African nation. Located in central Africa, it shares borders with Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Uganda. The capital of Rwanda is Kigali, which is the location of the African Enterprise office, under the AE Team Leader John Kalenzi. It has a history of deep ethnic tension between the Hutu and Tutsi people groups, which culminated in the 1994 Genocide and widespread ethnic cleansing of nearly one million Tutsi and Hutu. In the decades following the conflict, reconciliation and peace building have been key foci for the government. Many are working hard to address the ethnic tensions and find healing from the effects of the genocide 20 years ago. Rwanda is repairing itself and improving rapidly in terms of governance, community development and economy. The rapidity of these changes have meant Rwanda has been cited as one of the great success stories for the African continent. Nonetheless, Rwandans need Jesus to heal them completely.
Location: East Africa
Surface Area: 26,338 km2
Population: 12 million
Major Cities: Kigali 1.2 million, Butare 89,600, Gitarama 87,613, Musanze 86,685, Gisenyi 83,623, Byumba 70,593, Cyangugu 63,883
Major Languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Swahili and local ethnic languages
Colonial History: Under Belgian rule
Official Language: English (formerly French)
Team Leader: John Kalenzi
John has been the dynamic AE Rwanda Team Leader since 2008. Having grown up in a refugee camp in Western Uganda, John has long been aware of the struggles of the marginalised and poverty stricken and works through AE to bring peace, equality and reconciliation to Rwanda, especially given the recent past of genocide and civil strife. He dreams of Rwanda being a God-centred nation, with its people blessed by the provision of their basic needs and peace. John is a zealous spokesman for AE, raising funds on the global stage for projects in the nation, including the Centre for Champions and Self-Help Groups for Women.
Centre for Champions (CFC)
The Rwandan Genocide of 1994, in which nearly one million people were killed in ethnic conflicts over just one month has had long lasting impacts on Rwanda. In 2007 AE Rwanda established the Centre For Champions (CFC) in response to poor education and few opportunities for employment. The CFC provides vocational training to young people who need help. Over 12 months, each pupil goes through three months of theoretical training in language and entrepreneurial skills and then seven months of practical workshops. Students also elect one practical course that they will focus on. There are five course options:
Students stay onsite throughout the duration of the program with their food, uniform, training and other skills-related expenses paid for through generous funding from AE supporters. Most importantly, these vulnerable young people are taught the Gospel through Christian based education, so that they may know the God who created them and trust in his plan for their lives. Equipped with new skills after a year of training, students are given a government certificate of completion that will enable them to find employment and therefore give back to the communities that they have come from, to facilitate widespread social change.
Women’s Self-Help Empowerment Groups
Acute malnutrition, persistent violence and vulnerability of women and children are national issues for Rwanda.
AE Rwanda started the Women’s Self-Help Empowerment program from an understating that every human being has God given potential, even the most vulnerable and neglected. These women come together and learn from each other in a supported community. They learn business skills, about their worth in Christ, their rights and those of their children and how to properly plan their families. Groups to teach men about the importance of women also form part of the program.
AE’s ‘self-help group’ approach is designed to retrain a nation. Each week, 200,000 women meet as part of an extraordinary program. In this approach, women join a self-help group consisting of 20 members. 10 self-help groups form a cluster (CLA), and cluster groups can band together to form Federations (FED). These FED groups are particularly powerful because they lobby the government for social reforms on behalf of their groups and wider communities.
Right now there are over 8,000 self help group meetings every week in Rwanda.