We began our ministry in Rwanda in 1980 with the Child Sponsorship Program. In 2008, we started the Leadership Development Program, and the Child Survival Program followed in 2010.
We were forced to close temporarily due to the war and genocide, but reopened operations in September of 1994. The first country director was appointed in 1995. Also in 1995, our President and CEO Wess Stafford visited Rwanda in an effort to reunite churches and pastors who had been divided during the war.
Samuel Rugambage joined us as Program Manager in March 2005 and was appointed Country Director in 2006. Before coming to our ministry, Samuel served in various leadership positions at the Baptist Union of Churches of Rwanda, the Protestant Counsel of Rwanda and the Protestant University of Butare.
Samuel holds a master’s of Education, a master’s of Theology, and a Ph.D. in Theology.
Implementing Church Partners
Implementing Church Partners are local churches in Rwanda with whom we work to deliver child development programs and frontline ministry in the field.
- Spiritual Climate
The spiritual climate in Rwanda is one of freedom. More than 93 percent of the population is Christian, and people are free to pray and evangelize throughout the country.
- Unique Challenges
One challenge is that English is not commonly used, which causes language barriers and the constant need for interpreters. Also, Implementing Church Partner staff are paid a relatively low salary, which causes many to seek other employment.
Implementing Church Partners provide the land where program activities take place as well as time and manpower for child development center activities.
They also volunteer for projects such as house construction for Highly Vulnerable Children or providing relief in the case of disaster.
- Partner Development Activities
We develop partners through education, training and Complementary Interventions support.
Child Survival Program
We recently started the Child Survival Program in Rwanda. The program is currently working in eastern, southern and northern Rwanda as well as in the capital city of Kigali.
Child Sponsorship Program
Your sponsorship of a child in Rwanda provides a variety of benefits.
Children are busy with school during the weekdays so they meet on Saturdays.
- Meeting Times:
- 3 to 5 year olds: 8 hours on Saturday
- 6 to 8 year olds: 8 hours on Saturday
- 9 to 11 year olds: 8 hours on Saturday
- 12 to 14 year olds: 8 hours on Saturday
- 15 to 18 year olds: 8 hours on Saturday
- 19 +: 8 hours on Saturday
- Nutritional Support
The children are fed when they come to the center on Saturdays. They are given porridge in the morning before starting the first lesson and then a full meal for lunch, which typically consists of rice, posho (a common East African dish made with cornmeal) or Irish potatoes with beans and green vegetables. We provide this food in order to give them energy to participate in the program as well as to motivate them to attend.
Vaccinations are provided free of charge by the government according to the schedule set by the Ministry of Health.
- Extracurricular Activities or Community Service
Child development centers set aside time for sports and cultural/traditional dances for the children twice a month on Saturdays and more frequently during their school holidays.
- Vocational Activities
Adolescents participate in discussions about human development relevant to the teenage years, such as body changes, hygiene and emotional changes.
They are also involved in Bible study, discipleship, and income-generating activities such as crocheting, tailoring and basket weaving.
- Parent Involvement
Parents meet for weekly prayer meetings and for monthly community service activities, such as house renovations for families who need our Highly Vulnerable Children program, center clean-up days, and working at the vegetable gardens at the centers.
- Areas of Expansion for the Child Sponsorship Program>
We plan to focus expansion on existing clusters throughout the country, especially where clusters are not complete.
Leadership Development Program
- Universities Attended
Our Leadership Development Program students attend government or public universities.
- Location of Universities
There are five universities total in Rwanda; three are in the capital city of Kigali and two are in other parts of the country.
- Service Opportunities
Students visit child development centers on Saturdays to participate in the activities and encourage the younger students.
They also build at least four houses per year for vulnerable families near their universities and churches.
- Leadership Development Program Meetings
Our Leadership Development Program students meet twice a month to plan for and evaluate their service activities. They also participate in weekly Bible studies and fellowship together.
- Specialty Curriculum Topics or Resources
We discuss sexual purity and abstinence. We also do general health screenings, HIV tests and counseling.
We work with churches, Christian unions and other leadership associations that train and mentor the students. Potential mentors are invited to meet the Leadership Development Program students and to learn more about the program itself. We also encourage students who already have mentors to help other students find a mentor.
Compassion’s core Child Sponsorship Program, while comprehensive, cannot address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. Compassion’s Complementary Interventions program works in harmony with the holistic child development model to provide additional services as needed, such as the AIDS Initiative, Bibles for All Children, disaster relief and water projects.
In Rwanda we typically use Complementary Interventions for supplementary development activities that focus on child development, such as health, curriculum and Highly Vulnerable Children. We also use Complementary Interventions for program enhancement activities. This includes water supply, mosquito nets, income-generating activities, and infrastructure.
Highly Vulnerable Children
Primary Highly Vulnerable Children needs are food, clothing and shelter. We provide cottages, house renovations and food supplements. Highly Vulnerable Children funds also provide the means for beneficiaries to be self-supporting — mainly through income-generating activities.