First Lady Jeannette Kagame yesterday opened an orphanage constructed by an American based non-profit organisation, Rafiki Foundation Inc, in Nyamata, Bugesera District.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the $1.5 million (approx Rwf820m) Rafiki Foundation Village that will accommodate more than 250 orphans, the First Lady commended the founders of Rafiki Foundation. She said the project will restore hope, security, dignity and a chance for orphaned children in Rwanda to have a successful future.
“Rafiki Village fits soundly with the Vision of the country that exhibits determination and passion in developing its most precious resources-the people. Children constitute more than half of Rwanda’s population,” said Mrs. Kagame.
She mentioned that Rwanda still has a large number of orphaned children including those left behind by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, adding that projects like Rafiki are key towards supporting government efforts to ensure that all children in the country have a place to call home.
The First Lady particularly cited the Foundation’s approach of raising children in a God-fearing environment while equipping them with life saving skills as a positive attitude needed to raise responsible children the country needs.
In her speech Rosemary Jensen, the President of the Florida based organisation which runs similar projects in 10 other African countries, commended the First Lady for working hand in hand with Rafiki to set up the ‘one-stop’ orphanage, which has already received a dozen orphaned babies.
She said that the village with facilities including a hospital and a recreation centre,will be home to the needy and homeless orphans in the country, giving them education from pre-school up to University. She said that the Foundation has no intentions of taking the children out of the country or adopt them into families abroad.
“I would like to tell you that all children in Rafiki Village will be raised and educated in Rwanda. These are the future leaders of Rwanda,” remarked Jensen.
She revealed that she and her husband conceived the idea of setting up the Village in 2003 on the request of the First Lady, to come and help in addressing the problem of orphans in the country.
The function was also attended by the Minister of Gender and Family Development, Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, who commended the Foundation and the First Lady for promoting the rights of children, calling upon everyone to play their role in ensuring that all children at least have a family so that by 2020, no more orphaned children will be in the country.
She noted that since 1997, the number of orphaned children has significantly reduced from 14,000 to 3500 because of government efforts.
Rafiki Foundation works closely with the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda, which offered the land where the village was constructed and Imbuto Foundation, an initiative by the First Lady which identified the needy, orphaned and homeless children to benefit.