Only a few days after she was born, Noêlla Ishimwe Niyogisubizo was found wrapped in a polythene bag, thrown in a trench and left for dead. The floating ‘body bag’ was soon discovered in the trench.
Shocked at this discovery hundreds converged at the scene but immediately rushed the little girl who could hardly breathe to hospital for medical attention.
The abandoned child’s biological parents could not be traced but a guardian angel whose heart is filled with parental love did not give up on the baby until its fate was decided by authorities.
“I followed the baby to where she was taken because my heart was not at peace. My conscience could not come to terms with the fact that some one had been so cruel to dispose of an innocent child in such a trench of all places,” Marie Auriel Mukarusangwa told The New Times in an interview.
Day after day she spent long vigils at the hospital as she followed up on the process of necessary documentation from district authorities.
Mukarusangwa’s dream came to reality as she was given the benefit of doubt, and allowed to adopt the child.
With a strong desire to treat Niyogisubizo just like her own, her foster mother went to the extreme of utilising available herbs to enable her produce breast milk despite the fact that she had not biologically delivered this baby.
“I even tested for HIV/Aids to confirm that there will not be case of mother to child infection and so my daughter breastfed just like any other baby,” she narrates.
Today, aged four, Niyogisubizo who had been left to die is the pride of her family. According to Mukarusangwa, the young jolly girl who expresses herself fluently in English is not only outspoken and entertaining but also one of the best performing students in her primary school in Gicumbi.
“I know for sure that my little angel will turn out to be one of the most influential people in society. Her intellectual level and other characteristics are a testimony of her bright future,” Noêlla’s mother told The New Times as she smiled from ear to ear.
Mukarusangwa is one of the women that have been awarded by Mrs. Kagame’s Imbuto Foundation under the “Malayika Murinzi” (Guardian Angel) programme for showing remarkable compassion and selflessness by adopting and caring for vulnerable children in society.
Under this programme, each exemplary angel is awarded with a cow. Started in 2007, Malayika Murinzi developed as a community mobilisation strategy in response to the ‘Treat Every Child as Your Own’ campaign.
The major objective is to exemplify role models in the community, and provide continuity to and re-enforce the three key messages; of treat every child as your own, speak out against adults infecting children and talk to your children about sex, it can save their lives.
According to the Director General of Imbuto Foundation, Radegonde Ndejuru, a great number of guardian angels have been traced countrywide however exemplary parents that have re-inforced the other two key messages are yet to be found.
In her remarks during various reward ceremonies, the First Lady encourages Rwandans to become guardian angels to the underprivileged children in society as this initiative helps the young generation to become responsible citizens of this country.
“Taking care of a child just like your own does not require a lot of resources and these compatriots have shown us a clear example that it is possible,” Mrs. Kagame said at the Gicumbi Reward ceremony last week.
Just like other developing countries Rwanda has thousands of vulnerable children especially those that have been left orphaned as a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic.
The Malayika Murunzi programme has not only encouraged citizens to take up these children but in its special campaign, the foundation seeks that each foster parent treats these children just like their own.
In this regard therefore, all children are raised with the right parental love and care and general access to the basic needs of life such as education, health care, clothing and good feeding among others.
By rewarding a foster parent with a cow, Imbuto Foundation’s goal is to provide a form of economic sustenance thus improving guardian angels lives and their families.