Category Archives: Rwanda

In S. Sudan, churches struggle to keep role as trusted peacemakers

Wearing an immaculate white cassock, Catholic Bishop Paride Taban strides through the mud and tents of the Jebel displaced persons camp in South Sudan’s capital Juba on a recent Sunday.

The camp is hardly sacred ground: thousands of ethnic Nuer live here under United Nations peacekeeper protection in fear of Dinka soldiers outside. But Bishop Taban is here to conduct mass anyway.

“The church is to be with the suffering people, wherever in the world,” the 78-year-old bishop says. Read more…

Photo: Catholic Archbishop Bishop Paride Taban leads mass on November 9 in an airplane hangar at the UN’s Jebel displaced person’s camp outside Juba where thousands of ethnic Nuer have taken shelter from the war. By Jason Patinkin

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In Kenya, islanders on heritage site count cost of $25 billion mega-project

Lamu Island on Kenya’s northeast coast was established some 700 years ago as part of a thriving Indian Ocean trade network that eventually stretched to Oman, India, Portugal, and China.

The mixing of those cultures produced the Swahili people and language, as well as an Islamic renaissance of architecture, poetry, and cuisine.

Lamu is regarded as the best preserved Swahili settlement in existence. The history, the remote white beaches, the carved wooden doorways, and the winding alleys, all make it a top Kenya tourist destination.

But change is coming – more drastic than any in Lamu’s history – that could irreversibly transform this ancient place. Read more…

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

Could Burkina Faso protests signal end of president’s 27-year rule?

A week of escalating protests in Burkina Faso exploded into violence Thursday as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets against an attempt by longstanding President Blaise Campaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Demonstrators in the capital Ouagadougou broke through lines of police, who used tear gas, to storm and torch the parliament building. The protesters took to the streets to protest a vote – now cancelled – that would have changed the constitution to allow President Compaore to run for an unprecedented fifth term.

“We have tired of this president. We want a new system,” says Ives Ouedraogo, who is 27-years-old and unemployed, speaking to The Christian Science Monitor by telephone from Ouagadougou. “I know just one president in my life. He needs to let another person.” Read more…

Soldiers attempt to stop anti-government protesters from entering the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014. Joe Penny/Reuters

From a forgotten photo archive, Rwanda’s orphans reclaim their history

In 1994, Gloriose’s parents died in the Rwandan genocide. Now aged 25, Gloriose is a student at the University of Rwanda in Busogo. In March, 2014, Save the Children staff retraced Gloriose and her brothers, all of whom are now doing well. Colin Crowley/Save the Children

Nairobi, Kenya — Last December, the staff of the British charity Save the Children discovered ten gray metal crates sitting in an old shipping container in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Inside was a historical treasure trove. Packed in hundreds of green manila folders were handwritten files documenting the experiences of thousands of children whose parents died in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, when Hutu extremists slaughtered over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

Each of the roughly 8,000 files contained the story of an orphaned child and a Polaroid photograph. Save the Children tracing teams created the files to help them to unite children with surviving relatives and, in the years after the genocide, traveled around Rwanda to search for adults who might recognize the children and take them in.

As Rwandans this month mark the genocide’s 20th anniversary, the newly unearthed files offer an invaluable archive of one of the darkest episodes of modern history. Save the Children decided to use the archive to track down some of the children who are now adults to show them their picture and to see what had become of them.  Read more…