Upcountry insight:SOS Village brings hope to vulnerable children

NORTHERN PROVINCE GICUMBI — SOS Village in Kageyo Sector has returned hope to dozens of children without parents in Rwanda.

NORTHERN PROVINCE

GICUMBI — SOS Village in Kageyo Sector has returned hope to dozens of children without parents in Rwanda.

The children of varying ages include Genocide and Aids orphans, and children abandoned by their parents.

"SOS provides shelter, food and education to these children till they are able to cater for themselves," says the village director Callixte Rwabuhungu.

Apparently, SOS works on the principle of grooming children into responsible adults.

For every 10 children at the village, there is a mother assigned to them to build a close relationship with every child. She ensures security, love and stability of those children. The children live as siblings of different ages in the SOS family.

"Nowadays, SOS Rwanda is a home for more than 600 children and youth within our three villages," said Rwabuhungu. He said each village has a Kindergarten, a primary school, a Clinic in Kigali and Byumba as well as a Technical school and a Training Center also in Kigali.

Caritas Kabagwira is the children’s grand mother at the village. She thanks the government for the efforts towards reconstruction and reconciliation which has enabled rights of vulnerable children to be observed.

It should be noted that apart from the massacres, Genocide violated Rwandan children’s rights to the magnitude unknown before. It also set the stage for a whole host of long-term systematic rights violations for children.

Hundreds of thousands of children left without parental care are victims of abuse and exploitation on an ongoing basis. Thousands more children who adopted street life suffer violence at the hands of city dwellers who accuse them of petty crimes.

Rwanda is signatory to the international convention on the rights of the Child and to the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child. It is therefore, the duty of every Rwandan who loves his country to protect the rights of all these children.

It is not enough to entrust their rights to the traditional social safety net, which has already been stretched beyond its limits. International standards also recognize that vulnerable children are entitled to special protection.

Children without their parents, like all children, have a right to be free from abuse and exploitation. Article 19 of the convention on the rights of the child holds states responsible to protect all children from violence, neglect, mistreatment, abuse, or exploitation at the hands of their parent, legal guardian, or anyone else responsible for their care.

Exploitative forms of child domestic labour are prohibited under the convention on the rights of the child and international labour law.

Many children in Rwanda live without one or both parents. Parents were killed during the Genocide and war, children were separated from their parents while so young that their families could not be traced and parents have died of Aids.

The Aids spread worsened by the widespread sexual violence during the Genocide and shortly after. Some children stay with family members, others with foster families, while many live without adults.

Article 20 of the convention on the rights of the child requires special protection for them as children deprived of family care.

According to Rwabuhungu, SOS was formed "on the spirit of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child."

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