Rwandan newspaper The New Times (Kigali) wrote the following article chronicling the
country's decision to empty all their orphanages and place children into
families. The article features Mary Kamanzi, who heads up the Orphan Care
efforts for the PEACE Plan in Rwanda. Read the full article
online or check out the except below:
on a visit to Nyungwe National Park, I found a group of children milling along
the road. Some appeared as if they were playing while waiting for their parents
tilling a nearby garden. But the children, the oldest being about six, were on
a mission to beg.
confirmed this when Darmascene Byukusenge paused to ask: "Wampaye ijana
nkagurira umwana irindazi," (Please, give me Rwf100 so I can buy my
younger brother a cake.)
and his brother are not alone in destitute life and it is their plight that the
government is addressing through on-going efforts to reform child care policies
and programme in the country.
the new reforms, the government is refocusing the system by transforming
Rwanda's current child care and protection into family-based system. The aim is
to support vulnerable families to remain together and promote positive Rwandan
social values that encourage all Rwandans and their communities to take care of
vulnerable children, through fostering or adoption.
reform also states that children living in institutions should be integrated
into foster families or alternative family-based care systems as opposed to
Nyiramatama, the executive secretary of the National Commission for Children
(NCC), says child care reforms are not only meant to encourage fostering and
adopting in Rwandan society but also to emphasize "Rwandan identity in
these unlucky children and break adverse stronghold in their lives."
added that children not only need material care but psychological care that she
describes as software-care. It is this type of care that enables them to grow
well and become responsible citizens.
a child to become a responsible citizen, they need software-care much more than
hardware-care. Food, clothing and shelter are good for a child but beyond that
(is the need for) affection and sense of belonging that determine a child's
character and personality. This is what every child needs and it's hard to find
affection in an orphanage," she added.
National Population Office estimates that pregnancies as consequences of sexual
abuse during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi resulted in the birth of
children who bring back bad memories. There is also a problem of abandoned
children due to mass displacements during the same period - all resulting in
over 3,000 of unwanted and abandoned children. The
main challenge therefore remains rebuilding lives of these children and
providing them with good health facilities.
to Nyiramatama, over 1,000 children have since been integrated into family life.
Able families are being encouraged to embrace adoption and fostering policy to
give vulnerable children a chance to grow up in family life.
church has bought into the idea and has come out to promote the new policy as
it starts to see family care as a right to life; suggesting that every child
should belong to a family not an orphanage.
May 2013, the ministry of gender and family promotion in conjunction with Peace
Plan Rwanda - an umbrella organisation that brings together all religious leaders
- organised a consultative meeting to discuss the draft family policy.
religious leaders called for stronger families with good moral values as the
best environment for children to grow in. The emphasis was to promote child
care reform by encouraging Christian families to adopt or foster street
children or those from orphanages.
to Mary Kamanzi, the director of family and child care unit in Peace Plan
Rwanda, this policy is aimed at preventing future child neglect and design
appropriate preventive mechanisms for teenage pregnancies and other resultant
Peace Plan Rwanda, we are committed to supporting and helping these children to
grow well - psychologically, physically and emotionally. We hope that
encouraging Christians to adopt or foster orphans will give these unlucky
children a taste of home and a sense of family-belonging," Kamanzi said.
You can be a part of
helping local churches get children in Rwanda get out of orphanages and into
families on an Orphan Care PEACE trip. Email email@example.com for more