Members of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and the Fight against Genocide have called on the Executive to intervene and address the plight of children with disabilities, whom they say are in dire need of well equipped and professionally staffed institutions.
There are 41 institutions that receive and cater for children with disabilities.
In a meeting between the committee and the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the deputy chairperson of the committee, Esperance Mwiza, said most of the institutions that are home to disabled children have been turned into business that are solely opened to benefit the owners.
“In 2012/13, we visited some of these institutions and it is after this that we decided, as the House, that most of them should be closed because we found that the children were being used for business interests. Though some have closed, others are still operational,” MP Mwiza said.
“I request you to put in more effort because the children desperately need intervention,” she added.
Mwiza said that although the Government should be commended for encouraging families to take in orphaned children, there was need to evaluate the issue of children with disabilities because some needed professional care.
“We keep saying that children with disabilities can be welcomed in foster families but we need to really think about this more because there are those that cannot be taken care of in families and there are those above 20 and most of them can barely get out of bed and need full time professional care.
“What we probably need to do is to combine the few legitimate orphanages that are remaining then give them a particular budget but the bulk of the money should go to disabled children’s institutions,” she said.
MP Edouard Bamporiki appealed to the ministry to set standards for institutions that can receive disabled children according to categories.
“There are children with standard disabilities but there are those that have extreme disabilities. If we could have two institutions with the right standards at the national level where we can put these children, it would give them an opportunity to be well taken care of,” Bamporiki said.
Govt pledges action
The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Esperance Nyirasafari, reassured the MPs and pledged her commitment toward fixing the loopholes.
“We are going to prioritise the issue of verifying and closing more orphanages because children, especially those with disabilities, should not continue to be used like that. We are going to look into institutions that have deteriorated and probably remove the children and take them somewhere else as a precaution,” she said.
Last year, the Government kicked off a countrywide exercise to close orphanages, at a time where there were 33 orphanages and 3,325 children countrywide. So far, 14 orphanages have been closed and 2,294 children adopted. About 11,84 children await adoption.
At the time, the National Children’s Council said that there were still many challenges regarding disabled children because most of them were not being adopted.