Ex-street children hosted to Christmas party

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Centre Les Enfants de Dieu children dance during the Christmas party on Monday. (Photos by Frederic Byumvuhore)

On Monday, more than 300 former street children were hosted to  a Christmas party by ‘Centre Les Enfants de Dieu’, in Ndera Sector, Gasabo District.

The centre hosts former street children transitioning back to normal life.

The party, dubbed ‘Come back and thank’, brought together rehabilitated former street children, children still at the centre, and parents whose children were rehabilitated.

The event featured traditional dances, plays, and gymnastics.

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'Centre Les Enfants de Dieu' kids celebrate Christmas.

Come Sinayitutse, the in charge of street children’s rights and protection at the National Commission for Children, urged the children to ensure discipline upon reintegration in society.

“You should focus on building a bright future.  Despite the hardships there is hope that one day the light will shine in your life. Such a celebration is a sign of love. You are no longer street children, you are now tomorrow’s leaders,” she told the children.

She commended the centre for protecting the children.

“It is of a great value to meet and celebrate the end of the year as children of God, and also wish one another a happy New Year.”

Charles Hazabintwari, the centre project manager, said the party aimed to link the children still at the centre with their reintegrated counterparts.

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Some of the children from 'Centre Les Enfants de Dieu' celebrate Christmas.

“The celebration will sow seeds of hope among street children. It is time for the reintegrated children to come back and share testimonies with their peers. It is not easy to assemble street children but through cooperation with community and local leaders was made possible,” he said.

He cited means to educate the children at secondary school level among the most pressing challenges.

Hazabintwari appealed to Rwandans to partake in trying to ease the plight of street children, and to embrace family planning so as to produce children that they can manage to look after.

 Dieudonne Ayishakiye, a former street child who has since been reintegrated, said he regained hope after joining the centre.

Mutabazi, another child, said he had preferred street life due to family disputes but the centre  has since shaped his thinking.

Les enfants de Dieu (Children of God) is a community based non-profit former street children centre.

It currently shelters about 89 former street children, where they receive food, shelter, basic health care, clothing, recreation and sports training, education and vocational training, among others.

More than 300 children have been supported by the centre since 2007.