The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Dr Jeanne d’ Arc Mujawamariya, yesterday officially opened eight Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in the Northern Province to help HIV infected, orphaned and vulnerable children.
The event to inaugurate the centres which will be located in the districts of Musanze, Burera, Nyamasheke and Rusizi, was held at Groupe Scolaire de Tera in Musanze.
The centres cater for only children aged below six.
An initiative by the ministry and implemented by Food for Hungry and Strive Foundation, the centres aim at providing proper welfare to children while their parents concentrate on developmental activities since they will be leaving their children in the centres.
Mujawamariya called upon residents to maintain the centres to get the best out of them.
She urged them to use the opportunity and concentrate on activities that will see them excel and eradicate poverty in their families.
“Such activities are introduced to give you ample time to seek ways of fighting poverty and protect children from violations of any kind that would befall them while left at home,” Mujawamariya said.
She challenged parents to be mindful of family planning by bearing children they are able to provide basic necessities for.
“We want children…but it’s better to produce those we are able to take care of, give enough parental care and education to,” she said.
The Musanze ECD centre currently has 140 children, 78 of them girls. The launch marked the beginning of a two-year project worth over US8m dollars.
The project includes setting up about 150 similar centres in 10 districts, training sector and district leaders, Community Based Organisations and the National Police on the rights of children.
It will also include giving a rabbit to each child in the centre and one sheep to their caregivers.
The children in the centres will also access healthcare as they will be examined by nurses once a week.
They will also be given food and drinks at the centres provided by parents.