Esperance Nyirasafari, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, has visited the CENA Rusayo orphans’ center, Rusizi district of the western province. She was surprised by the miserable life there, where children eat once a day. She ordered the centers to be closed. A week later, they are transferred to the SOS Children’s Villages, which treat them according to the standards of the family model.
Minister Nyirasafari visited three centers that take care of orphans and street children in Rusizi district. They include CENA Rusayo- Gashonga, a reception center for disabled children, Saint Francois d’Assise Mururu and “Baho Neza”, which welcomes street children in Gihundwe.
She strongly criticized how the children of CENA Rusayo are treated, and ordered the center to stop admitting more children. In face of the district Vice Mayor, the delegation contemplates the kitchen, the cameras projected in the pans, the recorders stretched, everything is seized.
In a dirty kitchen, a half pan of rice, another full of brown liquid, which covers such a small amount of beans, without vegetables.
“How come do these two beans can satisfy a hundred of children, tell me the truth Sister,” Nyirasafari wondered.
The nun was stupefied, humiliated, feeling the pressure while thinking a lot on what was going to be next.
One of the orphaned children testified that he and his fellows are living a deplorable and shameful life, they spend all day without eating anything, they only eat in the evening, and they make a long journey going to School empty stomach.
“We live in a miserable situation, to help us you can get us out of the center, because we eat once a day from an inadequate meal, our beds are dirty and others …, our lives are not guaranteed,” Testifies an orphan.
Minister Esperance suggested the center would no longer welcome children since their living standards are mediocre.
“This center should no longer accommodate other children. The government has set up a program to accommodate orphaned children in families rather than in centers … If there is a problem, the Sector is there, the district and other local administration like the Guardian Angel, Friends Of the family – and others. They need to make sure the children are living well, “she said.
“I would like to call on everyone involved in this program, the district, the National Children’s Commission and others to take quick action to this issue to make it successful,” she added.
Mother Adrienne Nyirabarima, the Head of the Center, challenged that children eat well from their states before being in the center.
The day after the visit, Minister Esperance and the NCC immediately held talks with Claudine Nyinawagaga, the SOS Children’s Village National Director.
On June 23rd, SOS and NCC staff went to Rusayo Orphanage to transfer the 77 children and get new home to SOS where children of different ages had to leave Rusizi from the Western Province, cross the natural forest of Nyungwe, settle in the villas of SOS Nyamagabe, others enter Kigali (some for the first time) to SOS Kigali in Kacyiru, Gasabo District.
In SOS Children’s Villages are normally live in model families, with ten children per household at each family, under care of an SOS mother, assisted by an aunt (moderately young).
They are also given a Village, each of which covering between ten and fifteen houses, head by a male chief of the village, for a paternal image.
Each family is independent, has its own kitchen and its own menu. Two or three kids share the same room as it is neither a boarding nor a dormitory.
However, in spite of this family model care, Children’s Villages are also threatened by the new policy of reintegrating children into their families, more than half of which have just been reunited in biological, extended or host families.
In Rwanda, SOS International projects are located in Byumba, Nyamagabe, Kacyiru and Kayonza. They establish family homes, nursery and primary schools, medical centers and a technical school in Kigali (Gacuriro).
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