HUYE - Some of the street children who had completed reintegration into society are now finding their way back to the streets, a top district official has said.
“We have tried out different approaches in trying to find a lasting solution to the street children problem but so far the challenge seems to be resurfacing,” Aloysie Nyirasabimana, the district vice Mayor in charge of Social affairs, told The New Times.
“Some of the children who had been reunited with their families have since been known to be finding their way back on the street while some of the children at the reintegration centres are being reported to be escaping.”
The presence of street children are a common sight in the busy university town, according to a casual survey carried out by The New Times .These street children survive on handouts from passersby. An underground tunnel near the Commercial Bank of Rwanda is the place they call home.
Jean d’Amour Ndagijimana, 15, hails from the nearby Mpare Cell where he lived with his mentally ill mother before escaping to the street three years ago.
“While it is true that I have a place to call home ,however I cannot imagine myself heading back, life is hard here but the village is not for me,” he said.
Seven children live in the tunnel which they admit is a difficult place to sleep at night. “It sometimes gets too hot or cold at night. The situation is even worse during the rainy season because of the runoff. When this happens we spend nights on shop verandas,” Ndagijimana said.
Claude Mfashimana, 15, from Nshili Sector, Nyaruguru district lived at a children’s home in the district before returning to the street sometime this year. He said authorities at the centre could not tolerate his delinquent behaviour.
“The authorities at the centre could not tolerate the slightest of offences, anyone who erred was thrown out, that is how I found my way back on the street,” said Mfashimana.
The children interviewed said their female counterparts have resorted to prostitution.
“They come to the streets in the evenings to indulge in the sex trade, they live in rented houses because they can afford to pay,” one of the children said.
“Our wish is to go back to school, we want education,” said Ndagijimana.
But according to Nyirasabimana, the district official, discussions are ongoing to engage the street children into income generating activities.
“We are considering finding work for these children as another way of getting them off the streets. We are now discussing with different stakeholders on the applicability of this new plan,” she said.