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Rwanda: secondary school education for orphans

11-12-1997 News Release 97/49

After waiting quietly in line for their names to be called, the youngsters come forward to take a mattress and blanket each and receive an armful of school supplies. Before carrying their new possessions back to the dormitory, they applaud and thank those in charge of the distribution.

These 69 young people, aged between 12 and 18, all lost their parents during the 1994 genocide and are now trying to rebuild their lives. With the assistance of the Association for the Support of Survivors of the Genocide, they and 121 other students are attending a secondary school in the commune of Kanzenze in central Rwanda.

They have teachers and staff to look after them, and the school is building classrooms and dormitories on the site of a former hospital. But their needs begin with the most basic items: school equipment and proper sleeping quarters. Some are three to a bed at present, and 55  students share one pit latrine enclosed with plastic sheeting.

At the request of the Association, the ICRC has given a school kit, a mattress and blanket, soap, a kitchen set, a jerrycan for water, and material for a school uniform to each of the youngsters. Each school kit consists of 22  notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, a ruler and a geometry set. In addition, the ICRC pays the students'tuition fees, which amount to 25,000  Rwandan francs (80 US dollars) each per year.

The coordinator of the Association, Ndimbati Claver, explained that this help is important because of the devastation of 1994. " Those events caused not only the damage you can see, but also the wounds hidden inside, " he says, looking at the adolescents. He underlined the importance of working with these young people. " As in any other country, our young people are the future and their education is of vital importance. "

The ICRC is providing school kits and paying tuition fees for over 1,400 orphans throughout Rwanda, thus allowing them to continue their secondary education. " Part of our mandate is to aid recovery in the aftermath of conflict and to assist the vulnerable, " explained Chérine Pollini, the ICRC delegate responsible for these projects in Rwanda. " Helping these orphans to rebuild their future by allowing them to complete their education is an integral part of the ICRC's role in Rwanda. "