The National Commission for Children (NCC), in partnership with Tigo Rwanda, has given child protection volunteers (Inshuti zumuryango) in Muhanga District mobile phones to facilitate their work. Since 2015, the Inshuti z’Umuyango programme, which is already active in 11 districts nationwide, has worked to ensure that children are protected against cases of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. More than 800 mobile phones were provided by Tigo and distributed to the volunteers in Muhanga on Tuesday. Speaking at the event, Esperance Uwicyeza, the Senior Programme Manager for Tubarerere mu Muryango programme at NCC, said though child protection laws were put in place, children still need protection. She cited child labour, abuse, school dropout and family conflicts among the main challenges facing children. She expressed optimism that the handsets will facilitate the Protection Volunteers to report such cases in time to relevant authorities in order to seek lasting solutions. When children are not cared for early they lose hope, which can affect their future, she said. She said, since the introduction of protection volunteers in 2015, the commission has noted that people felt free to talk to them and they also reported cases directly to the people in charge. “Providing these fully connected mobile telephones is part of Government of Rwanda’s strategy to protect the family and safeguard children’s rights. These volunteers will ensure that children stay in school, as well as monitor and halt the evils of child abuse and child labour. With the help of Tigo, the volunteers will be able to communicate with not only the local police when they see instances of child abuse, they will also be able to send reports about child welfare to the NCC,” Uwicyeza said. Desire Ruhinguka, the Head of Business to Business Monitoring Office at Tigo, said the support was aligned with the company’s child protection objectives. “Tigo Rwanda is very supportive of Rwanda’s efforts to protect children, both online and offline and today’s initiative of giving mobile telephones to child protection volunteers is proof of that. This is another example of how mobile technology has the ability to improve the lives of everyone in the community,” he observed. “In addition to monitoring the welfare of children in their communities, these volunteers will be able to use their mobile phones to expand their digital and financial inclusion, through mobile financial products such as Tigo Cash”. Rose Mukanyandwi, one of the beneficiaries from Nyamabuye Sector of Muhanga District, said she trained in techniques to approach families with conflicts and sensitise them about children care.She noted that the phone she received would ease her work. I have been wondering how to use my own phone and airtime, this free handset will ease communication among us and with local leaders, she said.The volunteers working in villages were deployed by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in partnership with NCC. In order to further the child protection volunteer programme, Tigo Rwanda has given the NCC 1,500 free Simcards with airtime to be distributed in Muhanga and Nyanza districts.