Post-colonial Rwanda was shaped by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Standing as one of the swiftest episodes of mass murder the world has seen, nearly one million Rwandans were killed in a 100-day period. The aftermath of the genocide resulted in not only the massive loss of life, but also the complete decimation of national infrastructure. In 1994, no schools, hospitals, factories, or government departments were functioning. Rwanda's new government was faced with the tremendous task of stabilizing the country and rebuilding it.
In spite of this massive restructuring task, Rwanda has made vibrant development economically and socially, although the need for recovery at all levels of society and in the hearts of the Rwandan people is vast.
Today, seventeen years after the genocide, the socioeconomic impact of the horrific 100 days still lingers. Hutu militia raped Tutsi women in a deliberate plan to use HIV/AIDS as a weapon that would go on killing long after they had murdered their other victims. An estimated 11% of all females living in Rwanda at the time of the genocide were victims of the concerted rape campaign. As a direct result of the death and violence in 1994 there are more than 600,000 widows living in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a small country, roughly the size of Maryland with about 10 million inhabitants. There are 4.2 million children in Rwanda, 700,000 are orphans and 27,000 of those are living with HIV/AIDS. Currently, women head 34% of all Rwandan households, and more than 67% of the women who were raped in 1994 during the genocide are now infected with HIV/AIDS.
Now is a critical time to move forward economically and socially in Rwanda to care for those still suffering from the devastating effects of the genocide and to ensure this violence never happens again.
For more information regarding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, here are some good resources:
A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man who Dreamed It
By Stephen Kinzer
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda's Genocide
By Philip Gourevitch
Left to Tell: Discovering God in the Midst of Rwandan Holocaust
By Immaculee Ilibagiza
Official Website of the Republic of Rwanda