City moves to address welfare of street children

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Street children roam downtown Nyabugogo locale. (Timothy Kisambira)

Five transit and rehabilitation centres for street children in the City of Kigali have been given the green light to receive street children in part to address their welfare and rights issues.

The move means children taken off the streets will no longer be taken to Gikondo Transit Centre.

The centres are Centre Presbyterien  d’Amour des Jeunes (Cepaj) and Imizi Kid Centre in Kicukiro District; and Fidesco, Les Enfants de Dieu and Marembo in Gasabo District.

This was announced at a meeting in Kigali yesterday convened to explore ways of addressing issues of street children in the city.

Cyprien Musabwa, the director of Cepaj, said they are ready to receive street children to help alleviate their development risk.

“We receive those children and we treat them well. We listen to their stories on why they ran to the street,” Musabwa said.

“They then undergo one year or more years of rehabilitation during which we provide them with life skills before reuniting them with their families but also follow-up to ensure their welfare issues are addressed.”

Rogers Rutikanga, the regional Police commander for Kigali, said Police were ready to implement the City’s decision by taking each child got off the street to the designated transit centres.

The City vice mayor in charge of Social affairs, Hope Tumukunde, said the move would help the city address welfare issues of the children when they are in hands of those centres designed to cater for them.

“Children need special care. So, it would be better to directly take them in those specific transit centres as their mission is taking care of them instead of passing first in Gikondo Transit Centre which deals with various issues, including drug abusers, robbers and so on,” she said.

Tumukunde said street children are exposed to many anti-social habits, including drug abuse, prostitution, sex abuse and human trafficking.

The executive secretary of the National Commission for Children, Zaina Nyiramatama, said there is need for concerted efforts to tackle the issue of street children.

“We have put in place a system that will enable us to know the problems facing each family at village level through our social workers and local authorities. If we all deal with this issue, we can build synergy and eradicate it,” she said.

The concern of street children can be addressed through effective communication and networking among all stake holders, the meeting said.

There are some 1,036 children in all 27 transit and rehabilitation centres across the country, according to figures from the National Commission for Children.

Among them, 538 are in eight centres in Kigali.  

The Commission and City of Kigali say they would support the most vulnerable families in Kigali whose children have been taking to the streets to help reintegrate the children.

They say the decision was reached to address poverty, the major cause of street children.

More than Rwf39 million has been earmarked for this purpose and will be distributed among 394 families, with each of the families getting Rwf250,000.

The Commission says the grant will be given to families with profitable projects.  

NCC and the City appeal to parents and families to take responsibility to care for their children.

Rwanda Decides