Rwanda Action has worked in the districts of Nyamasheke and Rusizi since 2008. Our offices are based in Kamembe, the main town on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As such, it is a place of transition which attracts a diverse population including some of the most desperate people living on the margins of society.
Children are driven onto the streets for a variety of reasons: the death of parents; absent parents due to family conflict, divorce, imprisonment; children born from prostitution; domestic violence; lack of food at home or the means to send children to school and children dropping out of school. Living on the street, children often seek very low paid work and can be forced into begging or prostitution.
In all that we do, we are determined to support those on the margins of society, especially children.
In 2012 we built a centre called "Baho Neza Mwana" ("A Better Life for Children") which provided short-term residential care for street children. The Centre provided a stable, supportive environment and the opportunity for children to benefit from schooling and/or training. At the same time we set out to identify and support their families so that within a year the children could be reintegrated in their homes. This programme has been remarkably successful with very nearly 90% of the children remaining off the street.
In 2020 the Rwandan authorities decided to phase out residential care for street children so, to be in line with this policy, we are channelling our support for vulnerable families and children through our "Building Communities" programme. Our target is to prevent children being driven onto the street in the first place.
Baho Neza Mwana will be renamed and retained as a base for this outreach work, providing training for parents and teachers to care for and include all vulnerable children. Training programmes will operate on weekdays and will include the following:
On Saturdays our former street children and other children from disadvantaged families will be invited to spend time at the centre where they can benefit from a good meal, recreational opportunities, counselling and help with their studies. This will enable us to monitor the progress and well-being of the children and provide family support where it is most needed.
Key Performance Indicators
A reduction in the number of rehabilitated street children returning to the street
A reduction in the number of children driven onto the street in each of the village cells that we support
We acknowledge that we are bound to work within the Government guidelines and regulations but we harbour the hope that the authorities may decide in the fullness of time that there is still a case for short term residential care for these children.