Thea's story

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“The genocide of 1994 as a terrible shock to all of us,” says Thea Uwimbabazi, a teacher at Kinyinya school in Rwanda, the of a thousand hills.

“Picking up the pieces is no easy job and when it to teaching it is next to impossible,” says Thea. “How can you expect children who have lost their relations to share a classroom peacefully with pupils parents took part in the genocide and in some cases killed their families?”

Two million Rwandans lost their lives in the genocide, 50 per cent of the teaching profession. the twelve women teachers in Thea’s school, seven are widows whose husbands and children were murdered by the Hutu militia. “How can you expect these widows to have a of duty and deliver worthwhile ?” says Thea. “They’re in a of shock.”

80 percent of the pupils in Thea’s school were orphaned and from trauma and an immense sense of loss. To help them , the teachers try to organize group recreation so the pupils can play together and get of their inner suspicions but according to Thea, they need specialists to help them in this kind of work.

The war did not destroy human lives; it wrecked school, hospitals and health centres to rubble. “School buildings are a deplorable state,” says Thea. “The pupils sit on planks and find it hard to attention all day, walked miles to school. There are no school canteens so teachers and pupils have to go lunch. This means afternoon lessons are a write-, not properly taught or learnt.

As living conditions, teachers in Rwanda are poverty-; their salaries are not indexed to the cost of living and transport is a problem. “I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to be at school 7:30,” says Thea.