Rwanda is a country of great natural resources; not mineral deposits, not oil, not coal, not gem stones hidden in the earth.Rwanda’s natural resources are home grown – its people.
Fifteen years ago the country was the scene of one of the humaniy’s worst genocides .One million people were killed in the course of one-hundred days.
Today Rwanda is an example of peace.The people have chosen not to allow themselves tobecome captive to decades of retributional killings.Distinctions between ethnic groups, political extremism, wide spread corruption, media manipulation, and other factors that led to the genocide have all but disappeared.Rwandan’s are working hard to reconcile their differences, and grow themselves out of poverty – toward peace and prosperity.They are an example to the world of what is possible.
Innovative means are empowering the people to empower themselves.During the month of January I’ll be in Rwanda reporting about and photographing the people and programs of the country.
ASSIST-Rwanda is a locally based non-profit, youth advocacy, organization.They work with orphans and at risk youth on education, skill development, micro-business projects,employment, and HIV/Aids prevention.One of their programs is setting up business cooperatives with orphans and child headed households across the country.I visited some of these cooperatives in the northern area of the country, out of the city of Ruhenguri.
The day I arrived, members of six cooperatives were meeting to finalize charters, elect officers and formalize their businesses.A year ago these teenagers lived in abject poverty; clothes worn and tattered, not attending school, unemployed, hopeless.When asked whether one year ago they could have imagined where they would be today, the answer was a resounding “no.”Now they are business owners.They’ve been trainedin sewing, carpentry, and welding.
The cooperatives ASSIST-Rwanda has helped form are lifting them out of poverty.Today they have vocational skills and employment.Many of them are going to school.All of them have hope for the future.
All photography copyright Adam Bacher.Absolutely no usage without prior authorization.