Behind every broken life, lies a tragic human tale. Prostitution in Rwanda is not caused by drug addiction or by quest of quick wealth. Rather, young women are forcibly turning to prostitution as a desperate means of survival. They feel there is no alternative but to sell their bodies for a pittance to put food on the table and provide for their families.
Florence aged 24 says, “When I look around, I wonder why do I exist! What is the meaning and purpose of my life? I was born into poverty, grew up in poverty, misery and pain. Against my will, I became a prostitute as a way of survival and through it contracted the HIV virus. All through my life I have never known a happy season, though I see other people who are well off ... I always ask myself, why me?”
After talking in depth to many of these desperate teenagers, we have concluded that the cycle of poverty is the cause and education/health care is the answer.
Poverty levels soared dramatically after the infamous 1994s genocide. In 100 days, over 800,000 people were horrifically massacred - many seeking sanctuary in churches and schools.
250,000 women were brutally raped and many contracted and died of HIV/AIDS. Tens of thousands of children were orphaned and over 5,000 babies were born as a consequence of the systematic rapes.
Many young girls became housemaids but were physically and sexually abused by their masters. Consequently, they ran away and onto the streets as a means of survival. Girls as young as 14, became pregnant through unprotected sex, leaving them with babies to support.
‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’, Rwanda has the densest population in Africa, with an estimated population of 9 million. It is now a country with a strong leadership and its future appears bright thanks to the Government’s “Vision 2020” initiative and its application to become a Commonwealth Nation in 2009.
However, as the Government’s intention is to focus mainly on higher education, the development of entrepreneurship and the private sector, we feel that vulnerable, uneducated young people and single mothers will be neglected.
Shalom Africa wishes to instigate several ongoing projects geared to improve self esteem and self worth and enable youngsters to find their place in society. Education is paramount, focusing on basic literacy/numeracy for the illiterate.
We require funding for the setting up of a Vocational Training Centre to teach young people new skills such as basic computing and use of the internet, woodworking, sewing and cooking, thus encouraging creativity and artistic talents.
Cultivation of land is extremely important for agriculture/chicken farming and increase self-sufficiency.
Shalom Africa is in desperate need of funding to purchase land, machinery and equipment to realise our own ’Vision for the Vulnerable’.
We would love to join hands with other compassionate people in order to create a better future for the forgotten ones and achieve our dream. Together we shall succeed!