Phasing out Orphanages on Good Course – NCC

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Orphelinat Noel de Nyundo in Western Province closed. It hosted 500 children

Officials in charge of child reintegration have said that partnership with non-government organizations has allowed Rwanda to phase out orphanages in the country.

In 2012, Rwanda embarked on a difficult but ambitious journey to close all the orphanages and have all children successfully fostered, adopted or returned to their families or the next of kin.

A census was conducted by National Commission for Children (NCC) prior to the start of the exercise and 34 orphanages were registered with an estimate 4000 orphans or children that were abandoned by their families/guardians.

Five years down the road, 2961 children were reintegrated while 1266 children are still in 17 orphanages across the country.

“When we started, it was challenging; we needed experienced staff to mobilize the community with a very effective approach. Training them was cumbersome but we succeeded and today, the journey is promising,” said Dr Uwera Claudine Kanyamanza, the executive secretary of National Council for Children (NCC).

Kanyamanza said, partnership with non-government organizations like churches and other organizations with a know-how in family care contributed greatly to this exercise.

At professional level, the government consulted Hope and Homes for Children (HHC), a non-government organization to conduct successful reintegration of children into families.

“It would have been too ambitious to think we would succeed when we started since we did not have well trained staff. But today, we are confident we shall make it,” said Innocent Habimfura, HCC’s country director recently.

According to HHC way, reintegration of a child into a family is an exercise that should be done with a smaller margin of error.

For this reason, HCC uses several methods while approaching potential families that are expected to receive a child.

“A child is received in either of three categories of families; foster or adoptive family, a family next of kin and child’s own family,” he said.

The official said, it requires more efforts to integrate a child in his/her own family because in many instances, the child accuses parents of abandoning him and thinks he has a case against them.

In the two other categories also, preparation of both a child and the family receiving him is a prerequisite in this reintegration process, “because we do not take anything for granted and our exercise intends to make sure that children enjoy family comforts,” said Habimfura.

Neighbouring countries are taking note of Rwanda’s successful child care, as far as reintegration into family and phasing out the orphanages is concerned.

Early this month, HHC hosted a 18 people delegation from Uganda coming to learn from the reintegration process.

Martin Korochi, resident district commissioner for Tororo led a delegation from several professions handling child affairs in Uganda.

“We have come to see what Hope and Homes for Children is doing and we have seen a lot in child related interventions. We are likely to copy and transform ours so that our mission of giving a future to our children is attained,” he said.

Orochi said that issues facing children in Rwanda are similar with cases affecting children in Uganda which makes their visit relevant.





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