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Meet the Anton Fellows: Searching for hope in Rwanda

Akosua Ampofo's project
Rwanda is an African country probably best known to Americans as the site in 1994 of a vicious struggle between two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. (Timeline.) A decade later, one of the legacies of that war, as well as of the AIDS epidemic, is a substantial number of child-headed households. Approximately 42% of the country's population is age 14 or under. (See World Fact Book)

Who are these young people charged with raising the next generation of Rwandans? After witnessing death from genocide and disease, what are their values, hopes, and goals? Do they have the individual and external resources needed to bring about change in that troubled country?

Geography and International Development double-major Akosua Ampofo '05, a native of Ghana, is using an Anton Fellowship* to study a community of child-headed households (defined as households headed by persons age 25 or under) in the region of Gikongoro, Rwanda. These heads of household would have been age 14 or under at the time of the war. Akosua is focusing on four questions:
  • How do the common values and goals of this community encourage or discourage change?
  • What role do government and community leaders play in promoting agents for positive change within the community (such as, for example, the construction of health or educational centers).
  • How does the natural environment of the community influence its chances for economic growth and/or stability?
  • What impact do political and economic factors have over how a community uses its natural resources?
Akosua will interview members of some of these households, as well as government officials, community and non-governmental organization leaders to learn what has inspired them to seek change and how they see their roles in promoting change. (Akosua supplied a revised copy of her proposal, which you can read here.)

This project in Rwanda is Akosua's third internship. Two years ago she interned with Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), a project affiliated with USAID. During that time she worked with coffee farmers in Maraba, Butare Province to understand why they were having difficulty getting their coffee beans to a local washing station provided by PEARL within a specified time frame. Last summer, inspired by a directed readings course with psychology and international development professor David Bell in which she studied the identity issues of street children in Ghana, Akosua interned with Action Aid Ghana. During these internships, Akosua was particularly interested in how misperceptions held by both local people and agency personnel interfered with successful project completion.

Akosua has agreed to share with us, via email, news of her experiences and reflections on her work this summer. Check the listings in the blue box (under the maps) to see what she's doing!

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Ampofo's Emails from Rwanda
June 27, 2004
July 6, 2004
July 22, 2004
August 5, 2004

CHH meeting
View slide show

map of Africa showing location of Rwanda
Location of Rwanda in Africa.
Location of Gikongoro in Rwanda
Location of Gikongoro in Rwanda

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