The strength and perseverence of Rwandans never ceases to amaze. I just arrived back from dinner with my good friend Carlos, whose Kinyarwandan name is Sebasaza ("wisdom" - there could never be a more apt choice), and my father. Carlos informed us about a societal innovation that simply floored me - a fitting complement with the genocide rememberance week currently taking place in Rwanda.
Following the 1994 genocide, there were many orphaned children. The oldest orphans in each family became immediately responsible for the care of their brothers and sisters, often with little or no income. To provide for themselves at university, these orphaned heads-of-household started up a network that acts as both a financial and social support system. The orphaned students established "artificial" family units among themselves and assigned each other roles - father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. Because the orphans had no parents of their own, these new family units - composed of the students' same-aged cohorts - sought to re-establish the traditional parental structure. So the "father" would be responsible for earning income and overseeing the grades of his "children". The "mother" would cook for everyone, etc.
It's a reminder that Rwanda will be re-built by those who have been left behind, including these selfless orphans. That being the case, I'm impressed by Rwanda's prospects as a nation.