More than 20 years after the genocide of the Tutsis (1994), which haunts Rwanda to this day, HI continues to help victims overcome their trauma and better integrate Rwandan society.
Humanity & Inclusion Rwanda | © W. Huyghe / HI
Rwanda was seriously affected by the genocide of the Tutsis which left more than 800,000 people dead in 1994. In 1996, two years after starting up its work to assist the victims of the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, HI launched its first mental health project.
More than twenty years later, the country still suffers from the highest level of post-traumatic stress disorder in the region. Despite the national mental health policy put in place as early as 1995, the genocide is still the main reason for this. HI undertakes mental health actions with Rwandans who are suffering from psychological distress, and helps them to get back their footing. The organisation specifically supports people with disabilities who are experiencing psychological disorders after suffering violence, for example by setting up discussion groups, notably in Congolese and Burundian refugee camps.
As part of its Ubuntu Care project, HI takes action to help vulnerable Rwandan children, especially children with disabilities. The organisation carries out awareness-raising and advocates for the strengthening of child protection processes in place in Rwanda, with the aim of protecting children from sexual violence. It also works with the Ministry of Education to guarantee access to education for all children, for example by training teachers and making buildings accessible for children with disabilities. HI also promotes the involvement of young girls, teenage girls, and women who are victims of conflict in the Grands Lacs region, including refugees and internally displaced people, in education programmes run in schools, training centres, and the like, to ensure they are able to benefit from a school education or training.
In addition, HI implements actions to improve the prevention and care of epilepsy, especially for mothers and children, through the supply of anti-epileptic medication to hospitals, the training of health professionals in the prevention and management of epilepsy, providing people with information on epilepsy during psycho-educational sessions, and more.
HI also aims to provide quality and accessible rehabilitation services in Rwanda, notably by providing support to the Rwanda Occupational Therapy Association, which organises awareness-raising sessions on occupational therapy and the like, and by helping improve the quality of training for occupational therapists.
HI promotes the inclusion of Rwandan people with disabilities in society in terms of access to health care, education, sport and so on, in particular at community level. The organisation offers support to disabled people’s organisations, providing them with technical and financial assistance. This enables these organisations to pursue actions to promote the rights and civic participation of people with disabilities.
Lastly, HI promotes the inclusion and protection of vulnerable people, including people with mental health problems and rehabilitation needs in refugee camps by organising rehabilitation, early detection of disability, and psychosocial support sessions, among other activities.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, HI has continued to help the world’s most vulnerable people. We have adapted our interventions in more than 45 countries.
The genocide is still fresh in people’s memories.
The genocide of the Tutsis took place in Rwanda between April and July 1994. More than 800,000 people lost their lives in 100 days. The surviving population was plunged into a situation of extreme distress, and the genocide marked the beginning of an unprecedented ethnic conflict in the very heart of Africa.
Two decades later, the country is making significant progress: according to the World Bank, per capita GDP has risen five-fold, poverty levels have fallen by approximately 25% and inequalities have been reduced. The Millennium Development Goals concerning the reduction of infant mortality rates have been met. Poverty and income inequalities have also been reduced.
One necessity remains: the protection and social inclusion of people with disabilities and vulnerable people. Indeed, despite the economic growth and the recent development of basic services, such as health care, housing and education, the Rwandan population includes a large number of people who are vulnerable both economically, and from a psychological and social point of view. Nearly 29% of Rwandans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and 53% from depression linked to the genocide.
People with disabilities are also denied a role in society, and the authorities do not take care of them. The technical and financial resources earmarked for dealing with disability are still very limited, and civil society, energised by the numerous local NGOs which champion the rights people with disabilities, needs support.
Number of HI staff members: 117
Date the programme opened: 1994