The next generation

The next generation

In 1994 the genocide in Rwanda killed an estimated 800,000 people and probably more. One of the many consequences was a generation of children who have grown up without parents.

Those children are now in their early to mid twenties. Some were fortunate in finding adoptive families. Many did not. The churches and NGOs have helped to some extent by running orphanages. Children were cleared from the streets by the government. Somehow or other, a generation of young adults have emerged to face life in modern Rwanda.

For children who were not lucky enough to find sponsors and an education, and they are the vast majority, earning a living in a country without a social safety net is a challenge. Employment opportunities are few or non-existent for those unable to present school certificates or a university degree.

What is disturbing is that this is not a one-off cohort who will eventually dissipate into an otherwise functional society as they grow older. The problems which Rwanda faces are becoming exacerbated and are evolving into those common in may western societies.

Alcohol and drugs are becoming prevalent among the young - an easy, if temporary, escape from life and hunger. Beatings, particularly of young girls are being reported. Inevitably, pregnancies are part of the cycle, bringing another generation into a world where the mother is often unable to look after herself, let alone a child. The wealthy, the educated, those belonging to functional families are raising a new generation of Rwandans who may well prosper. The rest are unlikely to face anything more than hunger and hardship.