25 years ago Trócaire began working in a country that was torn apart, but today people in Rwanda are looking to a brighter future.
“We should never forget the horrors that unfolded over 100 days” said Trócaire’s CEO Caoimhe de Barra, marking 25 years of Trócaire’s operations in Rwanda at an event in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
During the horrific Rwandan genocide, up to one million people were killed in just 100 days. The genocide saw members of the Hutu ethnic group target members of the Tutsi ethnic group. It was the worst violence the world had seen since World War 2.
Yet Trócaire’s event in Kigali was not just to commemorate the incomprehensible loss of life, but also to celebrate the huge progress made by Rwanda in the last 25 years at healing from those deep scars and moving forward.
“Today, Rwanda is a country transformed” said Caoimhe de Barra. “In the land of a thousand hills, many who killed their neighbours in Rwanda’s genocide 25 years ago now live side by side with relatives of the dead. Speech that creates ethnic divisions has been banned.
Local courts have allowed many perpetrators to be released from prison in return for confessions and expressions of remorse. Reconciliation and unity programmes have changed lives as communities with immense courage have chosen to move on and create a space for healing”.
"As we gather today we should be inspired by unlimited human possibility, the courage and the compassion of those who embraced hope and humanity post-genocide against the Tutsis in 1994" spoke Trócaire's Rwanda Country Director Dony Mazingaizo.
Since 1994, life expectancy has more than doubled to 68 years. Economic growth consistently reaches 8 per cent annually. Between 2000 and 2015, it achieved the highest average annual reduction in both the under-five mortality rate and the maternal mortality ratio in the world. A generation of young people who grew up after the mass killings embody the hope of a new Rwandan people.
However, progress in this densely populated, landlocked country is not without significant challenges. The majority of the people are subsistence farmers reliant on the land for survival.
Taking on these challenges means addressing malnutrition and the eradication of poverty, increasing the participation of men and women in decision making, increasing the voice of farmers and citizens, addressing harmful social norms and patriarchy, reducing the burden of unpaid care work, promoting greater numbers of girls and boys transitioning to university, as well as embracing conflict sensitivity in our projects. Furthermore we need to respond to climate change and the influx of refugees into Rwanda.
Trócaire remains committed to engage in these areas and help build a hopeful future for Rwanda.
Last year Trócaire supported 37,000 people in Rwanda. 1,526 people were trained on farming techniques to mitigate the impacts of climate change, while 1,581 families received drought-resistant crops and 645 families now have access to rain harvesting facilities.
Over the last quarter of a century, Trócaire is proud to have played our part in helping to bring back hope to this country. This wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the Irish people, and the support of the Irish government through Irish Aid.