Rwanda is beautiful with stunning scenery and warm, friendly people, offering unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. The country is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with exotic wildlife living throughout its rainforest and sweeping plains.
The Rwandans are a resilient people who have, in the main, put the horror of the 1994 genocide – when nearly one million people died during 100 days of slaughter – behind them. The international community watched on, but did not intervene to save lives.
Di’s first foray into Rwanda began at the Genocide Museum in Kigali, built out of respect for those who died during those 100 days and those who remain with horrific memories and their eternal loss. Our inspired Co-ordinator, Cheryl Mutabazi, along with her husband Steve live in Kigali. They believed that before our program began, we needed to understand the history of Rwanda in order to work empathetically with the children as they explored their imaginations and retold the stories of their elders. Understanding the pain and the joy of contemporary Rwandans was a passport to an authentic and respectful program.
Today, Rwanda has become a leader across Africa in innovation and communication, and is the home of Kigali Innovation City (KIC), a technology park rich with digital companies and international educational institutions, and a world-class International Conference Centre, an illuminated landmark that lights the evening sky. Kigali is a bustling and vibrant city known for its restaurants, nightlife and growing music and film industry. Rwanda is green with a mountainous landscape, earning the nickname of ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’.
Ducere Foundation’s work began with Cheryl Mutubazi connecting us with Imagine We, a Rwandan non-government organisation dedicated to empowering children and young adults to love literature, and to inspiring confidence in potential writers. After holding the competition Kagire Inkuru, or ‘Tell a Story’, in schools around Kigali, this collaboration resulted in the first Rwandan collection.
Collaboration within Rwanda also impacted positively on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) program. The Foundation staff were not allowed to travel into the DRC because of the level of civil unrest, so the DRC Team, led by ActionAid, came to Kigali. A number of the master classes were held at Wellspring Academy where teachers and students were already immersed in the program. The stories generated during the intensive training were later developed and published into the Fifty-ninth Collection, which we call the Wellspring stories.
The value placed on education in Rwanda means that children all over the globe can read and enjoy the Twenty-second and Fifty-ninth collections, sharing in Rwandan children’s daily life and being inspired by words such as these by Ganza Axel, who wrote:
... be independent, creative and think out of the box.