They may not know it now but many of these children will have been affected by the genocide. They did not witness the atrocities, the brutal killing of their friends and family. But their parents did, their grandparents did and their neighbours did. In Rwanda everyone has a horror story to tell.
According to the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), 690,000 children in Rwanda are without one or both of their parents due to the genocide of 1994.
Adding to the already high number of orphans created by the genocide, around 140,000 adults (aged 15 or over) are living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda, which equates to three per cent of the population. The epidemic has meant an estimated 130,000 children have lost either one or both parents to the disease.
Rwanda is trying to move forward, to develop and prosper, and while no one can forget what happened during those 100 days in 1994 when more than 800,000 people were slaughtered by gangs, it is these young children, you see singing and dancing, that will move Rwanda forward.
One way children are showing the world that Rwanda is prospering and the wounds of the past are healing is through the Our Africa website, an evolving collection of videos of daily life in Africa as seen through the eyes of young people across the African continent.
This unique insight into Africa allows the children of Rwanda and other African countries to tell the world about their lives the way they see it. This video was filmed on a recent trip to Rwanda for the Our Africa project by some of the young boys and girls living in the SOS Village. See more of the Our Africa site.
SOS Children has been working in Rwanda since 1978 and cares for 416 children and 259 youths in three SOS Children's Villages. The first Village was near the capital of Kigali, with 15 family houses and four SOS Youth Homes (where the older children take a stepping-stone to independence). An SOS Nursery, SOS Primary School and SOS Medical Centre were also opened, all of which are used by families in the surrounding area. There are now a further two SOS Children’s Villages in Rwanda.