Rwanda is unfortunately best known for the genocide that occurred in the nation in 1994, a genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It is a beautiful nation however and has endless mountains and stunning scenery. Due to the history of genocide and tremendous poverty, there is an urgent need for volunteers in Rwanda. Luckily though, the situation in the country is improving every year, and by volunteer you can make a significant contribution.
Many, many children have lost their parents due to the Rwandan genocide and HIV/AIDS. There is a tremendous need for volunteers to help out in orphanages. As a volunteer, you will essentially become an older sibling to the children, by taking care of their daily needs, teaching them, and organizing fun activities.
It is estimated that about 600 schools were destroyed and 3000 teachers were killed in the Rwandan genocide. The Rwandan educational system is thus very poor and in dire need of teachers. As a teacher you will work in teaching children English, math, science and health.
For those interested in pursuing a health career, there are many opportunities to gain experience in Rwanda. As a volunteer, you will assist doctors and nurses treat and take care of patients. Nearly a quarter of a million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the nation, so there are many opportunities to work with people suffering from HIV/AIDS (UNICEF). You will also work with HIV/AIDS education, testing and treatment.
Planning Your Trip
Requirements and Things to Know before You Go: The Rwandan genocide took places just a little over 20 years ago and it is still fresh in the memories of people, particularly the older generation. It is important to not discuss the genocide with people you do not particularly well, and also don’t discuss ethnic conflict in the nation.
Best Places To Volunteer:
- Kigali: Capital and largest city of Rwanda; situated near the geographic center of the nation; where many healthcare volunteering opportunities are available.
- Gitarma: city in central Rwanda; growing economic hub.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Rwanda
As a volunteer in Rwanda, it is recommended that you be vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Meningococcus. For more information visit MD Travel Health. Violent crimes do happen in Rwanda, but they are rarely committed against foreigners. Foreigners are much more likely to face petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft from cars and hotel rooms.