Championing Child Rights and Protection

By Ian Nkera Ford

SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda, an affiliate of SOS Children’s Villages International,  supports a number of children that have lost parental care, been orphaned or suffered abuse, and ensures that they grow up in families  with love, security and respect.

In all SOS Children’s Villages locations in Rwanda, children are supported through family based care and facilitated with education, health-care and protection to improve their wellbeing. They enjoy these privileges in a loving family environment, under the care of mothers and aunts.

The SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda has since established partnerships with the Government of Rwanda, local and International organisations to deliver children’s programs and ensure advocacy of child rights and a better living for children in Rwanda.

Currently, there are four Children’s Villages in four different locations (Gasabo, Gicumbi, Kayonza and Nyamagabe) offering family based care to vulnerable children. These Villages are supported by a team of 349 well qualified staff with specialty in education, health, child care,protection,family strengthening and advocacy.SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda strives to strengthen families across all its programs by providing essential services and support for the children and caretakers.

Some of the programs include:

Supporting Children Through Family Based Care Program

For the last 38 years, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda has been implementing family-based care programs for children and has succeeded at improving the lives of children and shaping their future for the better.

Today, SOS works with the National Commission for Children to implement the Child Care Reform Policy, where children are looked after even when they join foster families. In addition, the Family Strengthening Programs are linked to communities to support foster families with income-generating skills and life skills.

Furthermore, SOS has started a new programme whereby children in street situations are rehabilitated before they are reunited with their families. It provides them with psychological counseling, supports National Children’s Commission in tracing the child’s roots, and makes an effort to address the underlying causes which pushed them to the street before rejoining them with their families.

Provision of First Class Education

A right to education is every child’s right.SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda believes in quality education as a certain path out of poverty, violence and family breakdown. The Government of Rwanda has for long prioritized education and registered significant success in the provision of universal access to primary education. In support of the Government’s efforts, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda has admitted some of these children into the SOS educational facilities with professional teachers and a child friendly environment for psychological, physical, emotional and intellectual development.

SOS Rwanda currently runs four SOS Children’s Villages Hermann-Gmeiner schools, and four kindergartens with 1830 children. In addition, there are 1455 children in 4 primary schools in 4 locations.

Since 2005, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda has been offering to teach technical and vocational education and training (TVET) skills at its state of the art Technical High school, located in Kigali. The school has since graduated more than 637 students in TVET skills, Computer Sciences, Electronics and Telecommunications studies, and Accounting.

SOS also runs a secondary school in Kayonza with 82 pupils since 2017.There are also 468 youths in four locations with 188 of them in reputable Rwandan universities and 13 in Hermann Gmeiner International College of Ghana  among other universities.

Family Strengthening: A key incentive for development

A child has the right to grow up in a family with love and care. As much as SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda values community based structures, it recognizes the family as the focal support for the optimal development of the child. Thus, investments and efforts are made towards positive parenting in a loving family environment under the Family Strengthening Program.

Under this program,SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda is  committed towards empowering the youth with income-generating skills to live better quality lives in future.

Currently, the family strengthening programs support 7528 children, 564 youth and 1688 families since 2005. Some of the activities under the Family Strengthening Program include construction of radical terraces, animal husbandry revolving systems, modern agriculture, and TVET skills among others. In all SOS Children’s Villages locations, Village Savings and Loan Associations are implemented and this has helped cultivate a culture of saving among the families and improve their economic status. Empowering families financially breeds stability and waves off any risk of family separations and child neglect.

Building Healthy Minds and Unity Through Sports

All children have a right to play and SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda has invested in sports facilities and activities that allow children and youth to showcase their talents, gain fitness(mental and physical) ,but most importantly to create an atmosphere of love, unity and social interaction. The stand-out facility is the multi-functional Skate Park built by SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda, in conjunction with Skate-Aid, an international organization that promotes projects through skating. The park is the first of its kind in Rwanda and it is sizeable enough to entertain the children (boys and girls) at the Villages and in the neighbourhood.

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Through skateboarding, the children and youth develop renewed self-esteem, community awareness, personal responsibility and determination, traits that can be valuable in facing real life situations.

Provision of good health care and oral care

All children have a right to quality health care. In support of this, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda operates medical centres in Gicumbi, Kayonza and Gasabo whereby an average of 11000 people are treated per year. A further 13,000 pupils from primary schools are treated in Gasabo, Gicumbi and Nyamagabe per year. These centres align to the Ministry of Health policies and procedures in service delivery.

Since 2012, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health, together with Dental Health is implementing a joint project for Basic Package Oral Care aimed towards improving the state of oral and general health among children. This project is targeting pupils in selected primary schools of Nyamagabe, Gicumbi and Gasabo Districts.

This project serves a total of 13085 students, teachers and principals providing affordable toothbrushes, toothpaste, oral urgent treatment, traumatic restorative treatment and general health education. Messages promoting oral health care are being emphasized and passed out regularly to raise their awareness on health related issues.

Promoting Child Rights Through Advocacy

SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda holds child rights in high esteem and that’s why it’s been carrying out intense advocacy in four districts of Gicumbi, Gasabo, Kayonza and Nyamagabe, to improve awareness and implementation of the rights. It uses a multi-level approach whereby children and child rights authorities are empowered to ensure sustainability of the intervention and the widespread knowledge on child rights in their respective communities.

Currently, the organization is working to increase the knowledge on child rights and build the capacities of all stakeholders to improve the implementation of Integrated Child Rights Policy and advocate for child rights in families, communities and government structures.

Implementation of the Integrated Child Rights Policy and advocacy of child rights in families is done through SOS Children’s Villages active involvement in the National Child Protection working group, the national network of organizations working on the child care reform strategy in Rwanda under the Tumurere Mu Muryango program, the coalition ‘Umwana Ku Isonga’, the Parenting in Africa Network to mention but a few.

SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda, in future, will continue its protection and reintegration efforts, sharing its success stories and experiences for the good of the children of Rwanda.

SOS CV Rwanda Marks the Day of the African Children

As we mark, the Day of the African Children, SOS Children’s Villages urges decision-makers to guarantee a Zero-tolerance approach towards child rights violations. SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda calls for more investment, to ensure that children in Africa have access to protection, justice and equal opportunity. 

As we mark, the Day of the African Children, focusing on accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity by 2030, SOS Children’s Villages will focus on the most vulnerable children who are at the heart of its Strategy 2030, with the central message: ‘No child should grow up alone’.  

To make the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 a reality, scaling-up access to education, health care and equal opportunity cannot wait. More importantly, we need to invest on children today, if they are counted, we can know how many of them are most vulnerable and at risk.

How To Support SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda

The organization welcomes local, international, individual and institutional donors who want to contribute to making it possible for every child to live in a loving family. If you wish to support SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda, simply write to sosbnc@sos-rwanda.org where you will be contacted for details or visit:www.soscv-rwanda.org.rw