Text by Muragwa Cheez Bienvenue –
Root Foundation relies on individual donations at 85 percent. Most of these donors are foreigners who visit the center during their stay in Rwanda and relatives and friends who know Root Foundation through recommendations. I personally believe Rwandans and Africans like people from many Western countries must be the primary solvers of their problems, creators of their own solutions and funders of their own action plans. However, it is not realistic to expect this to work out today.
The two main reasons according to me are:
1. Financial Incapacity
70% of Rwandans live from hand to mouth which means that their capability to make any monthly commitment to donate is very low. Over 39% of Rwandans live below the poverty line and 16.3% live in extreme poverty - which makes a possible donor population in Rwanda very small.¹
The Rwandan birth rate is at 4.09 per woman and the average age for women to have their first child is 24.² Just from the few points mentioned above, it is difficult for many Rwandans to financially sustain their own families.
But even many of those who are above the line of poverty, considering the level of extended family solidarity in the Rwandan culture, are not capable to commit any contributions or solve problems beyond their own families and relatives.
2. No or Poor Giving Mindset
In Rwanda, like in many countries in Africa, most people do not self-evidently see themselves as givers or enablers. This, according to what I think, has something to do with the history of slavery and colonization that has suppressed our ancestors. For a too long time, they lived under a master and that master was supposed to own them, to give them, to think for them, and decide what is good or bad for them.
Our countries could not progress economically from all the past history without the support of the developed countries. I think, experiencing and seeing this has also affected us, who are from African countries, in our confidence and our sense of taking ownership towards the problems in our communities and nations at large.
In March 2019, I myself did a quick survey with 30 children and showed them a 19 years old White girl and a 40 years old Black Rwandan man and asked the kids who they would a