Clementine Uwase is a prisoner at Kigali Central prison. The 20 year old mother says she has been staying with her child for the last two years in prison. Legally, it’s not acceptable in Rwanda to keep a child below three years of age from the mother.
This is the reason why she has been living in prison with her child for so long. However, measures have been taken by various government agencies in order for these children to enjoy their freedom.
When these children reach the age where they can legally live away from their mothers, they are given opportunity to join school.
Uwases’ child was among the children who had to leave her mother in prison in order to join the school.
During the ceremony to hand over these children, Uwase said that it was all tears of joy pointing out that it was the beginning of hope in life again.
“I do not have any family member. If my child is joining school I see it as a great opportunity on my side,” Uwase said.
Aline Mahoro, is another mother whose child was given chance to join others in school. “I love my daughter. It’s hard to explain how I feel but I am joyful although I will miss her so much,” Mahoro said of the necessary separation.
In her speech, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Jean d`Arc Mujawamariya lamented the negative effects of allowing children to live with their parents in prison.
The minister asserted that these are innocent kids who must enjoy their freedom so allowing them to live with mothers in prisons may possibly make them think that they committed crimes together with their mothers.
In short, the minister explained the effects on behaviour change that children can adopt while staying with their mothers in prison at a tender age.
“These children have equal rights of benefiting from the current programs of child promotion which also include the right to education,” said the Minister.
“We lack breathing space where children and expectant mothers can relax and interact. Therefore, it is crucial to have a structure where they can be accommodated and create space for children to have fun and enjoy like others,” Ngaboyisonga said.
The children will be taken to various schools where it is hoped they can grow into responsible citizens.