HUYE — At least 85 percent of street children in Kigali City hail from the Southern Province, the minister of Gender and Family Promotion Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya has said.
While visiting Nyamihinga Centre for former street children in Huye town yesterday, minister Mujawamariya urged local leaders to enlist community efforts in solving the problem of street children. She donated Frw1million to the centre.
The Nyamihinga Centre; run by the Butare Catholic Diocese supports 60 girls formally living on different town streets countrywide. 20 of the children are from the Capital City Kigali.
Minister Mujawamariya said that the celebration of International Family Day which coincided with her visit, May 14 would have no meaning when children are still lining the streets.
"We can not talk about the family and ignore the children. The presence of children in such centres is testimony that families ignored their essential responsibilities," said Mujawamariya, adding such events should seek to restore the lost dignity to the children.
It is every citizen’s responsibility to care for the vulnerable children in the country, the minister said.
She hailed the Butare Diocese for taking up responsibility of providing life skills to the former street children and the National University of Rwanda for providing counselling services to the children.
The Nyamihinga Centre offers vocational training to children who could not continue with formal education. They are given skills in tailoring, knitting and cookery.
Mujawamariya noted 329 children have recently been taken off the streets in Kigali and are attending a solidarity camp in Rwamagana district after which they will be trained in different life skills.
Monsignor Jean Marie Vianney Gahizi, of Butare Diocese observed that helping the vulnerable is an obligation of the church.
"Family is a major unit of the Church. The Catholic Church recognises its obligation in building the nation and has been supportive of its strengthening," said Monsignor Gahizi.
Justin Karabaranga, the director of the centre said that joining former street children with their families remains a big challenge.
"Many of these children do not know their parents and finding them foster homes is not easy. The continued rise in commodity prices is posing us a serious challenge because we operate on a small budget," said Karabaranga.
Petronille Uzeyimana, a district official said Huye town is grappling with the problem of street children despite the various interventions.
"We get street children from the neighbouring districts of Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Nyanza and Nyaruguru. Efforts to support vulnerable children in their homes have not solved the problem," said Uzeyimana. He added that sensitisation campaigns are being held in 56 Cells across the district to involve communities in solving the problem of street children.