Help Rwandan orphans overcome a violent legacy

by Stories For Hope Rwanda
Jan 23, 2012

Why Stories For Hope Works

A NEW 2012 REPORT from a series of extensive evaluative interviews of 7 participants has helped us know more about WHY Stories For Hope is being helpful to youth in Rwanda, including girl orphans.




Not asking questions of parents and elders is a common experience in Rwanda where, traditionally, children are 'seen and not heard.' Post -genocide social tension and the high level of trauma in Rwanda made these pre-existing gaps between the generations much wider. Elders don't want to pass on their own trauma to their children; children don't want to re-traumatize elders by asking for their stories about 1994.

                                                  WHAT YOUTH SAY HAS CHANGED

                                                            I feel that people care about me.”


Orphans, especially girls, often feel like at the bottom of the rung in an adoptive family, or adript in society, as if they deserve to be there. It's especially uncomfortable asking questions to help calm fears and provide guidance. After participating, young orphaned females say they feel less alone, and more confident in trying to improve their lives through work and education. Being able to discuss how they are treated leads to affirmations by elders that they need not feel shame for their situation, and opens the way for ongoing mentorship and sponsorship.


                     “I feel bolder about asking questions which I once feared asking.”


    A Stories For Hope dialogue gives young people direct permission to speak with elders, who have also agreed in advance to share stories about culture, personal experiences, and the past. Youth still use proper cultural conventions (not making much eye contact, letting elders speak first, expressing gratitude for the stories), but having a facilitator present and a set of guidelines for talking, helps overcome fears.

                                     “Now we talk freely, and I talk to others.”

    Young women and men participants feel a door has been opened for them to continue conversing with their elders, and this 'open door' has widened to include other members of the community.

                      “My peers come up and ask me questions they are afraid to ask.”

    New information from elders leads some youth to feel like learning more about Rwandan culture and history, and some are becoming local junior historians. Other ways to get this information have been unavailable, like a history curriculum (still being revised at the Ministry of Education).

    Before I was using drugs, and just seeking pleasure. Now I see how I must act for  the sake of my country, and my family.”

    After hearing from elders about the 'proper' ways of living in a post-conflict society, young people have a firmer platform from which to decide how they want to behave. A moral education from elders who feel dispirited and marginalized from society, has been lacking.

    Since my elder spoke and treated me like a member of society, I have some new hope and new plans for how I will raise funds for my education.”

    All these changes in the relationship with an elder engenders youth with new purpose and confidence, to think more positively about their individual futures and the future of the Rwandan nation.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Stories For Hope Rwanda

Location: Kigali - Rwanda
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Patricia Pasick
Ann Arbor, Michigan United States

Retired Project!

This project is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Find another project in Rwanda or in Human Rights that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.