In spite of her love for education, 25 year-old Saverisa Uwimana dropped out of school in senior two. With no professional skills to rely on, she has persisted in a state of joblessness.
This particular day is like any other. Uwimana wiles her day at her sister’s charcoal store. On her lap is six year old Igihozo Shadia, fidgeting absentmindedly with a piece of cardboard, obviously secure in her own little world.
As I reach out to greet her, she clings onto Uwimana’s chest, confident that she was safe in her arms. Their bond could easily be mistaken as that of mother and child, and though that is in effect what it is, it has not always been.
Igihozo is however not Uwimana’s biological daughter. Six years ago, while Uwimana was doing what she always does, sitting at her sister’s charcoal store, a woman walked in and asked her to attend to her baby for a few minutes as she searched for milk.
That was the last she saw of the woman, leaving Uwinama with no choice but to go home with the little infant. All night, Uwimana tended to the child as best as she could, but early the following morning, she took the child to the police station and reported the matter. She returned home with the child and has taken care of her ever since. Igihozo knows no other mother.
“Even if I had a husband, I would have taken her home,” revealing her compassion towards the child. To a stranger their closeness unmistakably exudes the semblance of mother and child.
Igihozo is just one of the many infants that are dumped. Some have been lucky to be adopted but others are sent off to orphanages.
“I knew of three [dumped children]. I picked one from town. Stayed with it for almost a month, then they located her parents,” narrates Erina Akimana.
Jean Marie Njangwe, the newly appointed Officer in Charge at Nyamirambo police station says that in his first month at the station there haven’t been any reported cases of dumped infants, though they once held a lady for allegedly killing her twin infants after birth.
But Oregene Rutayisire the Mayor of Nyarugenge said the habit of child dumping has reduced considerably.
“This problem has reduced. It used to be reported every three days. Some would be dumped and others killed,” said Rutayisire.
He partly blames child dumping on women who migrate from upcountry into the city for jobs and end up with unwanted pregnancies. He explained that one of the solutions for reducing the dumping of children is to combat rural-urban migration.
“When dumped infants are found, they are placed in orphanages and foster homes”, Rutayisire said, adding that people were not allowed to keep dumped children except if permitted by authorities.
Rutayisire could not provide statistical information of dumped children over the years, but said that, there were community policing committee units that work with initiatives to get rid of such cases by confiding in the police in districts and at village level. This is one of the ways they hope to combat this social evil.
Kimisagara is heavily populated with rural-urban immigrants. Subsequently poverty and unemployment is high.