Patrick Kiruhura is the director of Roots Foundation. He is a son of a teacher, who struggled to keep him in school forcing him to get in contact with street children at an early age. He is the brain behind Nzitukuza– a documentary about able-bodied beggars and street children.
Kiruhura says he conceived the idea of filming while still studying at Kwetu Films. “I’d always see these young children and women begging yet they had no physical defects on them. So I kept asking myself, what can I do to get such people off the streets and give them a better life?”
Though he was a student, Kiruhura started thinking of how to send the street children to school.
That was a hard venture to pull through so he dropped out of school and started advocating for street children.
He mobilised volunteers and some friends donated some money. “I visited homes of over 120 children and sought permission from their parents to allow me to explain to these children the dangers of street life, how they can live a normal life and guiding them on how they can survive without begging on the streets.”
Out of the 120 children he visited, 47 secured sponsorship and are now already in school.
Some are into filming and painting and a film school for them will be operational next year.
“Enrollment will be for 15 to 16-year-olds,” he adds.
To inspire the children, Kiruhura brought in some of his successful friends who had struggled through life to talk to them. “For instance I have this friend who fended for himself throughout school. He used to go the streets to beg, but he is now a banker,” he narrates. His vision is to mentor children to keep off the streets and live better lives.
Although Roots Foundation now has partners like the Goethe-Institut, VSO, NOUSPR, among others, it still has financial and technical challenges.
“We still rely on well-wishers and volunteers. It’s hard to give the children all the skills that they require because we sometimes find ourselves incapacitated as well,” he notes.
But despite all these, Kiruhura appreciates the office space provided by the government at Batsinda in Kagugu. The National Youth Council and Gasabo District have also been supportive of the Foundation.