Investment into two pick-up-vehicles for the “Centre Cyprien et Daphrose Rugamba” (CECYDAR), sustainable rehabilitation and reintegration centre for street children in Rwanda
Project location: RWANDA, Kigali
Project start date: June 2017 - Project end date: August 2017
Project number: 2017-037
Beneficiary: Fidesco E.v.
Due to poverty, there are groups of children living on the streets of Kigali. To survive they do odd jobs, they beg and sometimes steal. They cannot go to school and they have no prospects for the future.
The “Centre Cyprien et Daphrose Rugamba” (CECYDAR), was founded by FIDESCO RWANDA, with the goal of finding families for these children. Workers from the center go out into the streets to contact children, and invite them to come to CECYDAR. The children are then able to stay at the center until a family, is found to take them in.
To avoid that those same children end up back on the street, a regular follow-up is necessary. Because the children come from all over Rwanda and sometimes even from the neighboring countries, CECYDAR needs two pick-up trucks for the following purposes:
- Meet the children in the streets in different parts of the country
- Go shopping (cover the needs of the children such as food, etc.)
- Make investigations, over the entire country, in order to find families for reintegration.
- Follow up with the children and their families, after they have left CECYDAR (Kigali and others cities).
- Visit children in their schools.
- Deliver farm products to customers (restaurants, embassies etc.).The farm is a contribution to develop the financial autonomy of CECYDAR.
The two current pick-ups were financed by UNICEF in 2009. Each vehicle now has 200 000 kilometers and break down regularly. In Rwanda, cars get deteriorate more quickly due to the poor condition of the roads. CECYDAR wishes to invest into the two new vehicles for safety reasons. The risk by accidents for staff and children is too high.
This project began when Daphrose Rugamba got in touch with street children at the local market. She and her husband Cyprien began to welcome children, restoring to them their dignity by giving them food and clothes. They, also wanted to buy or build a house to receive the children. Cyprien and Daphrose were killed together with seven of their children during the genocide in 1994. After the genocide, there were even more street children, and the members of the catholic Emmanuel Community in Rwanda, which was founded by Cyprien and Daprhorsa, continued to develop the project.
Despite economic growth, Rwanda still has 30% of the population below the poverty line, and 9% of the population living in extreme poverty.
One consequence of poverty is a high number of children on the streets. Today, children are often made homeless because of Aids, extreme poverty or violence in their families. The children live in various parts of the city of Kigali where their daily lives involve violence, drugs, arduous work and petty theft. They live in organized groups and are left to themselves.
The situation of children living on the street is characterized by great uncertainty and a continuing violation of their rights: the right to education, right to healthcare, right to protection, right to nutrition, or the right to live with their parents.
They are all uneducated, often doing painful work to earn little money: carrying heavy bags, fetching water, collecting and selling metal parts, empty plastic bottles, or glass. Most of them suffer from malnutrition and other diseases such as dysentery, malaria, scabies, etc.
A study of the conditions of children in the streets shows that 37% of these children are involved in drug abuse. The usually cheap products (glue, gasoline, solvents, tobacco, and hemp) are used to reduce hunger, help them adapt to the harsh conditions of life on the street, and sometimes to disinhibit themselves before committing crimes.
The children come from all parts of Rwanda and Burundi where there are no centers to welcome them.
The history of each street child is unique. Many are orphans, hoping for a better life and the chance to find regular meals.
In order to give these children hope for a better future, Fidesco founded a project in Kigali in 1992: a rehabilitation center for street children. This center bears the name of the founders of Fidesco in Rwanda, who were killed during the genocide: Cyprien and Daphrose Rugamba (their canonization process by the Roman Catholic Church began in September 2015)
CECYDAR is convinced that a child's natural environment is still the family. Therefore, it uses every means in trying to reintegrate the child, as soon as possible, into a family environment (immediate family, extended family or host family). This reunification also goes hand in hand with measures to strengthen the family's economic resources. There is a short, medium and long term monitoring process for the reunited children in order to anticipate, and prevent them, from returning to the streets.
During its first years, CECYDAR rented buildings. Then, in 1995, the Diocese of Kigali and the Rwandan government donated a large plot of land on which CECYDAR has constructed a dormitory, sanitary facilities, a classroom, a refectory, a canteen and an office. With a growing number of children, the buildings needed to be enlarged and improved. A new kitchen, more classrooms and new sanitary facilities were built.
There is also a large lawn where the children can play.
In 2014, it was decided to develop a farm on a field 3 ha in size, which used to be a swamp and has not been used for some time. Here, in order to promote self-financing of the whole project, income-generating activities are under development: cultivating vegetables (carrots, leeks, cabbage, onions, eggplants and peppers), and egg production with 600 hens to be followed by the construction of a chicken shed with a capacity for 1,000 chicks.
Livestock farming includes dairy cows and the above-mentioned poultry.
Many years of experience have given CECYDAR real expertise in rehabilitating street children and have made it a specialist in successful reintegration.
The Rwandan government honors this work and regularly asks CECYDAR for help and advice. All children go to school or follow a professional formation. Some of them even go on to study at the university.
While working on improving the methodology for taking care, reintegrating and rehabilitating street children, CECYDAR identifies the main points concerning the organization of the process.
1 - The educators meet the children in the streets
The educators meet the children where they live: on the streets, next to markets, on car parks, next to dumps. Bit by bit the street workers get in touch with the children and invite them to come to CECYDAR three times a week so that they can eat, wash, do their laundry, study, be listened to, play etc. If they express the desire and the street workers feel they are ready, they come to live at the center.
2 - The rehabilitation process
A child who has lived on the street in very difficult conditions for a very long time needs a time of rehabilitation, “an airlock decompression” as a smooth transition before returning to its home environment. It must learn (again) the rules of living together, respect for adults, other children, schedules, etc.
In the Centre, the children enter an extensive phase of reeducation:
- Physical: They stop taking drugs, are cared for, learn about hygiene, and exercise regularly.
- Psychological: They are listened to, which helps little by little to heal the pain of their previous traumas so that they can once again trust themselves and others.
- Intellectual: They go back to school, study, and play.
- Social: They are given new clothes and a uniform; they learn to respect adults and other children, and they participate in daily tasks (washing up, housework…)
- Spiritual: They can participate in prayer times, masses, and religious education… at the same time being respected in their own personal beliefs.
- Reunifying: Convinced that the family is still the best place for a child to grow up, CECYDAR does not want to shelter the children for too long. Therefore, after approximately 3 to 6 months of care and following an examination of the family situation, CECYDAR takes the child back to its family: either parental, extended family or – if neither of these two solutions is possible – to a host family
3 - Follow-up of children after their departure from CECYDAR
CECYDAR accompanies “its” children far beyond their time spent in the Rugamba Centre! It tries to improve their family situation, so that they are no longer tempted to go back onto the street.
It achieves this goal in the following two ways:
- CECYDAR directly supports the child that has been at the Centre, by paying for its entire studies and by accompanying it until it is ready to begin professional life.
- If possible, CECYDAR helps to support certain family members with e.g. a micro-credit, professional training, psychological support etc.
A methodology has been defined on rehabilitating street children. The goals of this methodology are to be implemented throughout the country by other centers that also take care of street children.
The average stay for a child at the Centre is between 3 and 6 months. More than 1,300 children have received care at CECYDAR.
This number will increase during the coming years.
The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation awarded a grant for this project. With the two new Toyota Hilux 5 pick-ups, which are scheduled to arrive at the end of August or beginning of September, CECYDAR will be able to continue its work by visiting children on the streets, in their families and at schools. There will be fewer delays due to technical problems with the vehicles and more safety for the staff and the children. We hope that the new pick-up-vehicles will serve the project well, like the former ones, for another 7 years and 200,000 km.