Photo Essay - Child Headed Households in Rwanda
Published in full in multi page spread in the Independent on Saturday Magazine
Child Headed Households in Rwanda
In 1994 the Genocide in Rwanda shocked the world, nearly 1 million people were massacred in 4 months, killed by neighbors, and militia groups, on the command of the government, the brutality is unimaginable.
Four years later, Rwanda now has a peace of sorts, but the consequences of the genocide remain.
The genocide left thousands of children with no parents, with no welfare state and most of the population struggling for their own survival, children from the age of 10 suddenly found themselves the parents of their younger brothers and sisters, making sure there was water food and clothes, trying to make sure they didn1t starve.
Not only did they face these problems, but a majority of these child headed households are headed by girls, they faced discrimination, rape, exploitation, and denial of inheritance.
Four years after the genocide, the child headed households number approximately 80,000 and account for 300,000 children.
They have survived traumas in the first few years of their lives that most people in the world will never have to face.
Their struggles continue, but they are an inspiration. With a little help from charities and a drive in themselves to have better lives, they are the real hope for the country. Most try to ensure that their younger siblings attend school, or get some vocational training, they support one another and try their hardest against enormous odds to have a normal life.
A familly aged 10, 5 and 14 outside their house
A family whose only possession in the house was a bible
Making bricks needed to restore the destroyed houses earns medicine & food
Mud splattered face of a CHH in the brick works
A CHH whose head is a physically disabled boy who has only just got a wheel chair
A member of a CHH making toys
A 5 year old aunt holds the hand of her niece, the result of the rape of the CHH
Water collection is done by the 10 year old of the family
The daily meal of porridge
Street Kids most of whom come from split CHH - substance abuse is emdemic