Religious leaders have been urged to play an active role in promoting child adoption in order to end the issue of homeless children in Rwandan society.
Dr Claudine Kanyamanza Uwera, the executive secretary of the National Commission for Children, said the commission alone cannot achieve its mandate unless all stakeholders, including faith-based organisations, come on board.
“Adoption is key in addressing the issue of street children,” Uwera told The New Times in an interview.
“We cannot achieve this without the help of churches and mosques. Faith-based organisations tend to reach a big population of our community and they teach integrity, love and care, which are fundamental in child upbringing.”
Uwera’s remarks follows a new partnership between the Government and Church to end the problem of street children.
On Friday, the Purpose Driven Ministries’ PEACE Plan, the umbrella organisation of Christian Churches in the country, and NCC came together in an event hosted at Christian Life Assembly (CLA) Nyarutarama to deliberate on possible ways through which faith-based organisations can promote adoption among their followers.
At least 2,294 out of 3,323 children (who were previously living in orphanages) have been reintegrated into foster families since the inception of the programme dubbed, “Tubarere Mu Muryango (TMM),” which literally translates to “Let’s raise children in families.”
The Government’s strategy is to close down and transform all orphanages as an entry point to building sustainable community based child care and protection structure to avoid child abandonment.
National Child Care Reform framework details how children living in institutions should regain their right to live in a loving, safe and supportive family environment.
The National Commission for Children was in 2012 tasked with overseeing the successful reintegration of children, creation of a system of alternative care and the transition towards a strengthened child protection system.
‘Tubarere Mu Muryango’ campaign is a brainchild of National Child Care Reform, aimed at mobilising the community to promote a safe family environment for children and encourage families to receive children living in orphanages to keep them under family and community care.
Through the programme, Inshuti z’umuryango (child and family protection volunteers) follow up children who were placed in biological families, foster care or adopted by other families.
There are also social workers and psychologists working in 15 districts to follow up on adopted children and provide psychosocial support.
Other strategies include community outreach, training of local authorities, religious assemblies, among others.
“I have said this over and over again; a family is a natural foundation for the wellbeing and protection of children,” Uwera said.
She said the campaign is not only confined to the churchgoers, but rather, “everyone in society has a role and responsibility to play and can help to provide a protective environment for children to grow.”
If one feels they are not capable of raising a homeless child, they are free to support a foster family in their neighborhood, she added.
To join efforts with Governement, PEACE Plan has also initiated the Family and Orphan Care initiative aimed at rallying churchgoers.
Mary Kamanzi, the coordinator of the initiative, said the church is willing and capable to promote child adoption.
“We believe that there will be more preaching in churches and mosques about God’s church for the orphans and more voice on the needs of these children,” Kamanzi said.
On the willingness of believers to take orphaned children into their homes, Kamanzi said, “I wouldn’t say they are not willing or they are willing; this is something that comes with personal conviction, but they are willing to pray and consult God. As long as the message is being preached, it will give room for Christians to consider it.”
Kamanzi has adopted one child and fostered three others since the initiation of the Family and Orphan Care programme.