Most people wake up in the morning to go and work with the aim of accumulating wealth. After getting the money, they immediately purchase land, construct houses, buy expensive vehicles or probably even get married. However it’s a different case for Egide Ruzindana.
Ruzindana, a first year student at Mount Kenya University doing Social Work and Administration is an employee with “Younger Life”, an American nonprofit organisation that spreads the Gospel and also counsels teenagers.
Despite his tight schedule, he initiated and runs an association that looks after former street kids “Love for Hope.” He provides them with shelter, food and education.
Based in Remera sector, Nyabisindu cell, Gihogere village, the home consists of 20 children aged 13-20 years. They live in a gigantic house rented by Ruzindana and a few others who sometimes provide financial assistance.
The 34-year-old man says that he started this journey in 2008 after meeting some children who were struggling with life at Kisementi in Kigali City. In this area, a number of children, most of them orphans, were always on the street begging.
“After bringing them together, I found that some are talented. Among them we now have guitarists, painters, and actors,” he said in an exclusive interview with The New Times. He added “We have volunteers who train them in different activities and you can clearly see that their future is promising.”
At their home, there are many paintings for sale depicting Rwandan culture. They cost between Rwf 20,000–200,000. The money from sales is used to buy their basic needs.
Most of the children were former drug addicts but now, Ruzindana, whom they now call “dad”, has taught these kids to love God and so every Sunday they all go for prayers at the nearby church.
They have a football team that Ruzindana says has attracted more kids who are still living on the streets.
Some go to school while others are enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) training like carpentry, construction and vehicle mechanics.
Most of the children are orphans while others ended up on the streets after falling out with their families.
“I lived on the street since 2008. I used to struggle to get what to eat because we were many but now I can honestly say that my life is on the right track. I’m studying mechanics,” Amani Mucyo, a 16-year-old boy says.
Mucyo was addicted to marijuana but he claims his life is much better after joing ‘‘Love for Hope’’.
He says he lived with his relatives in Gatenga in Kicukiro district and later disagreed with them on some issues which led to his expulsion from home.
16-year-old Jean Damascene Semanywa, is also in the group and now goes to Kinyinya Secondary School. He is in senior two. He lost both his parents and his relatives could not accommodate him. He now gets all the scholastic materials from his new dad.
Different organisations visit the home to see how the children are living and to provide assistance.
Last week Mount Kenya University visited the children and participated in community work that was spearheaded by a journalism school.
The university students and lecturers interacted with the kids, cooked for them and provided clothes, shoes and food. The university authority promised to continue supporting the children.
Elias Jjuko, in charge of operations, assured the children of university assistance adding that there is a scholarship programme that they can benefit from.