At least 2000 orphans have been reintegrated into foster families since the inception of a campaign to mobilise the community to promote safe family environment for children and encourage families to receive children living in orphanages.
This was announced, yesterday, at a workshop organised to tip journalists on ethical reporting on children as part of the same community mobilisation campaign.
At the orientation workshop in Kicukiro District, media representatives were tipped on being accurate, fair and objective, among other ethical principles.
The campaign is also part of the programme dubbed, “Tubarere Mu Muryango (TMM),” which literally translates to “Let’s raise children in families.”
The programme was launched in 2012 as part of the child care reform strategy to remove children from orphanages and keep them under family and community care.
It aims at promoting child rights and reintegration of children from orphanages into family-based care or transforming orphanages into child-centred community based structures to avoid child abandonment.
Other strategies include community outreach, training of local authorities, religious assemblies, among others.
Esperance Uwicyeza, TMM programme manager at National Commission for Children, said the programme has been effective with many people understanding it.
“Initially, many people didn’t understand this programme. But, today, many recognise that a child should be raised in a family. The next step is to take care of those who have got families. Every Rwandan who thinks of a bright future for this nation should commit to take care of these children,” she said.
She said 2,294 out of 3,323 children have been reintegrated into families since the inception of the programme.
Thacien Kwitonda, who has adopted a girl, lauded the programme.
“We consider her our daughter. Children are better raised in families than in orphanages. Parents should welcome them in their families,” he said.
Ted Maly, UNICEF country representative, said children raised in institutions for longer period than needed suffer physical and psychological consequences.
“A family is a natural foundation for the wellbeing and protection of children. Everyone in society has a role and responsibility and can help to provide a protective environment for children. Journalists can support children and help communities have a better understanding of the situation and the needs of children,” he said.
Dr Claudine Kanyamanza Uwera, the executive secretary of the National Commission for Children, said the commission alone cannot achieve its mandate.
“Among the objectives of the programme is communication and advocacy that focuses on raising community awareness on the benefits of family-based care for children. We want to reinforce the capacity of media practitioners to report on the programme in the frame of raising awareness for behaviour and social change,” she said.
Through the programme, Inshuti z’umuryango (child and family protection volunteers) follow up children who were placed in biological families, foster care or adopted by other families.
There are also social workers and psychologists working in 15 districts of the country to follow up on adopted children and provide psychosocial support.