Children centres supporting over 6,000
About 437 children are directly benefiting from children centres put up to replace orphanages while another 6,886 are receiving indirect support channelled to their respective families.
This was disclosed by the Country Director of Hope and Homes for Children, Claudine Nyinawagaga, who said the centres, would soon be manned by a team of qualified teachers.
The decision to come up with children centres is one of the measures aimed at curbing issues that in the past have resulted in proliferation of orphanages
“These centres will also be used to train parents on the best practices in fighting malnutrition as it has also been proved that it is also affecting children,” she said.
Hope and Homes for Children—a local NGO that has partnered with the Gender Ministry to re-unite children in orphanages into their respective families, has opened two children centres in Bugesera District.
The decision to come up with children centres is one of the measures aimed at curbing issues that in the past have resulted in proliferation of orphanages.
The initiative comes at a time when government, in collaboration with development partners, progressively phases out orphanages and encourages parents to take good care of their children.
“Unlike in orphanages, in these centres, children below six (years) will be brought from their homes on a daily basis for basic education. It simply means vulnerable families will no longer experience hardships related to education,” Alfred Karekezi, the Director General in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, explained.
He observed that the rolling out of free education at an age when children are most likely to be abandoned, would help curb the habit. He further pointed out that the initiative supplements the Early Childhood Development programme under the National Commission for Children (NCC).
Roger Shyaka, who spent ten years in the former Mpore-PEFA orphanage and finally reunited with his family, outlined the differences he has realised since then.
“Parents or any family members take full responsibility of guiding, directing or even taking tough measures like punishing wrong actions unlike in orphanages where children believe they are independent.”
According to the findings from a survey conducted by the NCC, some parents deliberately take their children to orphanages to escape from parental responsibilities; the survey aimed to ascertain why children were in orphanages at that age.
Orphanage owners had earlier protested against the closure of the facilities, though, according to Zaina Nyiramatama, the Executive Secretary of the NCC, they have come to realise the significance of bringing up children in their respective families or homes.