Giving street kids a chance to regain their purity

The street was once her home. Her eyes tear up when she recalls that time of her life, and the struggles she is still trying to overcome.
Some of the kids pose for a photo with Muhire., the founder. /Photos by Donah Mbabazi
Some of the kids pose for a photo with Muhire., the founder. /Photos by Donah Mbabazi

The street was once her home. Her eyes tear up when she recalls that time of her life, and the struggles she is still trying to overcome.

16-year-old Uwamariya Musabyimana recalls how she often went to the streets when things got rough at home. They barely had what to eat; all her four siblings would sleep on empty stomachs and she couldn’t take it anymore. The fact that both her parents had no source of income left her with only one option, the streets.

She would beg for money and the little she got, she took back to her family. Life went on like that for years until she became a part of ‘Love the Kids Foundation.’

The foundation provided rehabilitation and even put her back in school; Musabyimana has now completed the primary level and is waiting to join high school.

Even though the situation back home hasn’t changed that much, she believes she has started a journey that will finally transform her life. Her dreams are to one day help her family out of poverty.

Kids at the centre get an education from nursery to secondary level. 

“I want to see my family happy just like others. This is why I am going to study hard and get a decent job. I have now completed my primary education and I believe that I will make it,” she says.

‘Love the Kids Foundation’ supports underprivileged children, especially those from families living under extreme poverty. They provide them with an education, instill a reading culture and help nurture their talents, for example, in art.

Olivier Ishimwe is another beneficiary. His father abandoned them years ago and he has been struggling to help his mother support the family.

He had to drop out of school because of the situation at home and with close to nothing, their survival was by the grace of God.

Ishimwe is now a happy boy as he is set to resume his studies; he completed primary five and is eager to go on with his studies.

“I want to earn a lot of money when I am done with school because I want to help my siblings attain an education as well,” he says.

The 15-year-old hopes to someday become a pilot because airplanes excite him, and he wants to explore the world that is ‘hidden from him.’

Theogene Niwuruta stays with his mother.His father passed away in 2012.

His life on the streets began shortly after his father’s death; he also had to drop out of school because his mother couldn’t afford to pay school fees and takecare of his four other siblings.

The children play during their free time. 

“We didn’t have what to eat, we were thrown out of the house time and again and all those times we lived on the streets. Life is slowly improving; mother doesn’t have a job but she at times gets temporary work to wash people’s clothes. I also help her out when I fetch water for neighbours and get paid,” he says.

Niwuruta’s dream is to become a doctor, work hard and help her mother out financially.

The birth of the foundation

In 2015, Jean Claude Muhire and his team created ‘Love the Kids Foundation’ with the aim of supporting disadvantaged children.

They were pushed by the need to provide a platform for the kids’ dreams to blossom regardless of the challenges they faced.

Muhire, the founder of the foundation, lost his mother at the age of 12 and the hardships he went through inspired him to do something for children going through the same struggles.

He wanted to support the less fortunate to access quality education and also improve their standards of living with access to all basic needs.

The foundation helps children in Kimisagara, Gitega and Nyakabanda. They have 103 beneficiaries.

“We work to support the children with hope that they will become responsible citizens of the country. These children are affected by issues back home such as poverty, domestic violence while some have parents who are irresponsible,” Muhire says.

They also work to empower the families of these children by offering them sensitisation on sexual and reproductive health, especially issues such as family planning.

Muhire suggests that a close collaboration between the government and civil society organisations can help strengthen the fight against the issue of street kids in the country.