Trauma counselling for orphaned youth

Funding required: $74,000

360 orphaned youth in Rwanda, and 75 staff (435 people total)

Estimated completion date: November 2019

Shyaka* will never forget the worst day of his life: the day his beautiful mom died from HIV complications. He was just 12 years old. While he still has nightmares about that dark day, he wakes up each morning and tries to push the loneliness and fear from his mind. For the past six years, Shyaka has been the “man” of the household, faithfully walking his two younger sisters to school each morning, then working a long, hot day at a small farm four kilometres away.

Sadly, Shyaka’s situation is not unique. UNICEF estimates that 860,000 children in Rwanda have lost one or both parents. Since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, families have suffered painful ripple effects from the trauma: a high prevalence of HIV resulting from rape being used as a weapon by the militias, child-headed households due to the hundreds of thousands of adults murdered and extreme poverty as a consequence of the destruction of Tutsi families’ homes and livelihoods. Rwanda is a nation in need of deep healing, starting with some of its most vulnerable—orphaned youth who are grieving and alone, and have no adults to support them.

Compassion Rwanda and its local church partners care about and value each of the registered children, especially those who are suffering from terrible trauma and loss at a young age. Children and youth often feel helpless after facing a major life crisis, and struggle to heal without guidance from trusted adults.

By hosting a healing event for orphaned youth, Compassion Rwanda can provide a safe place so each boy and girl can have the opportunity to share their stories and begin to make sense of their traumatic experiences. Seventy-five Compassion staff will also be trained on how to guide the children’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual growth. A professional counsellor will offer biblical psychological and emotional support so young men and women can learn to trust in Abba Father to heal their painful pasts.

*Shyaka’s story is a composite, typical of a child in Rwanda.

Give the gift of trauma counselling to youth suffering the effects of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Trauma counselling for orphaned youth

Help provide healing for vulnerable youth who have experienced deep trauma and loss

Summary: This initiative will give 360 highly vulnerable youth (18 to 20 years old) the opportunity to gather together for several days to share their stories of trauma in a safe place. By providing emotional support and professional counselling, the goal is that individuals can begin to work through their experiences, recognize their strengths, manage their emotions in healthier ways, learn how to build relationships, understand they are not alone in their grief and, most important, find hope and healing in a loving God. In turn, we hope to help the people of Rwanda begin to heal from the long-term effects of genocide that have harmed families and children since 1994.

  • Child development centres impacted: 75 child development centres in the Eastern, Southern and Northern provinces, as well as in Kigali city.
  • The problem: Among the 363 Compassion child development centres in Rwanda, 1,889 children are completely orphaned, 72 per cent of whom are older than age 15. These young people are highly vulnerable, especially in a nation where 37 per cent of children are chronically malnourished, 28 per cent are engaged in child labour and women or orphan-headed households make up 36 per cent of the population. The horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide is still crippling the nation today, especially for children and families who have lost parents, homes, health and livelihoods.
  • What is provided through this gift:
    • Hiring of two professional counsellors
    • 4 four-day healing events, including: venues, meals, accommodations, transportation
    • Training materials for 360 youth
    • Training for 75 staff
    • Evaluation and follow-up


  • Local contribution: US$4,817.80
  • Monitoring: Compassion Rwanda will oversee the implementation of this healing intervention. Centre staff will identify eligible orphaned youth for the healing event. Trained staff will have improved skills and knowledge to provide ongoing care for beneficiaries.
  • Handling of funds: Compassion Rwanda will hire the professional counsellors and source the healing event venues.
  • Follow-up: Centre directors and staff will assess the emotional status of the beneficiaries and will offer continued support.

No less than 80 per cent of your donation will be used for program activities and a maximum of 20 per cent for fundraising and administration. If we exceed our funding goal for the initiative shown, the remaining funds will be used to fund other programs where the need is greatest.