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People in Rwanda are just as interested in the Rwanda Family Connection programme as we are. Here's a copy of an article which appeared in the Rwanda Times recently.

World Vision to link students to New Zealand and Australia
Excerpted from an article written by Mwesigye Julius of The New Times 21 February 2000

World Vision Rwanda is currently engaged in preparing for a one-month Internet programme linking children from 400 schools in both Australia and New Zealand, to their Rwandan counterparts. The effort is being undertaken to sensitize Australian and New Zealand school children of the plight of Rwandan children who are family heads.

The programme, running the entire month of March, will be facilitated via the World Wide Web at http://www.worldvision.org.nz/rwanda and will involve students from Rwanda's Kigali Parents, Apaper and St. Famille. The site will share Rwandan history, culture and information and stories about child families, not only with the students but also with the rest of the world. Rwanda is home, according to recent figures, to approximately 300,000 children living in 40,000 child headed families. Of these, World Vision is assisting more than 8,000 children in nearly 3,000 families living in the four prefectures of Byumba, Kigali Urban, Kigali Rural and Gikongoro. In the prefecture of Ruhengeri, World Vision is focusing its activities on peace and reconciliation and agriculture, according to Mr. Joel Frushone, Communications Manager World Vision Rwanda and coordinator of the project, known as "Rwanda Family Connections."

In 1998, the local authorities of the prefectures in which World Vision Rwanda operates, submitted a list of child headed families living in their perspective areas. It is on this basis that World Vision began extending logistical support to children who had lost their parents during the genocide. The support, in some cases, involves paying school fees for children to participate in tailoring, welding, leather tanning and carpentry training courses. The goal of which is to provide the children with a skill that will in turn lead to self-sustainability.

In an effort to see that aid reaches targeted groups, World Vision is in the process of a policy shift to assist children through Area Development Programmes (ADP's). In part, funding, for ADP's is generated through child sponsorship. World Vision Rwanda has registered 6,000 children whom they hope will be sponsored by well-wishers from across the world.

A "40 Hour Famine," a scheme whereby citizens forego eating for forty hours in exchange for donations, is also generating funding for Rwanda's children. In particular, funds raised from Australians and New Zealanders will be put toward child family projects. During the 1994 genocide, in which over one million people were killed, a host of children lost their parents, while some got displaced. This led to the formation of a group of both homeless and parent-less siblings who have hitherto constituted themselves into families.