The foster care concept has its roots from the ancient Rwandan tradition where ‘orphanhood’ was unheard of due to social value system of care for vulnerable children especially children without parental care.
Whenever a child was deprived of parental care due to death of parents or any other reason, relatives, neighbours or family friends would immediately inherit the responsibility of caring for such a child by welcoming the child to their family and providing all the needs of the child. “Not only some parents from Rubavu clearly understand this concept but also they have made it their own” said Mr Moise Munyamariza, a district project officer from Hope and Homes for Children in charge of Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi districts. Hope and Homes for Children (HHC) is an international Charity organisation working to ensure all children are living in families not in orphanages
3 years ago, Kayirangwa Sarah was living in Orphelinat Noel de Nyundo[ONN] in Rubavu district North Western part of Rwanda. She is now living in a foster care family. Her foster family loves her so much that she can sometimes get the opportunity to visit her former friends from ONN now reintegrated in Rutsiro District just to make her happier. It is a journey of 3 hours by road and then 2 hours by the wooden boat in Lake Kivu. The foster father had named this trip a ‘’twinning‘’ of foster parents between Rubavu and Rutsiro Districts.
Before joining ONN Kayirangwa Sarah was abandoned near the market place of Mahoko, a neighboring community of Rugerero where ONN is located. After closure, ONN now became Centre Scolaire Noel de Nyundo (CSNN).This child is believed to have born in November 2011. When the De-Institutionalisation work started in Rubavu District, a team of HHC and the National Commission for Children (NCC) was committed to help this child get a family. After discussing with with caregivers, they began their investigations and family tracing in August 2013 but the team did not get any real trace of the biological nor extended family to this child.
A case management meeting was done to look for family alternative. After the meeting the decision was to choose among trained foster carers one family that can serve the best interest of the child. The family of Niyoyita Simon and Mukase Domina living in Rubavu District at about 10 km from the orphanage was selected. This family was committed to helping people, especially children (locally referred to as Malaika Mulinzi). When the child met this family during preparation process she did not hesitate to join them as they were compassionate to her. She loved them as much as they loved her. After two weeks, the parents were invited in a group session before taking the child home. “This is a session in which parents are shared about children rights and especially the right to be in a family as well as parenting skills” Said Mr Munyamariza.
Kayirangwa Sarah was placed in a foster care family on 31 October 2014. At that time she was almost 3 years old and about to start nursery school. Ever since she was welcomed at her new home, she has grown well physically and performed well at school.
What is amazing is that the family gave the opportunity to the child to visit former residents of ONN of the same age. They got contact of other parents during group session and they planned to pay them a visit every year. The child is very happy to walk by boat in the lake which is not common in their village. One of her foster parent said: “Children were happy to meet again after many years and enjoyed travelling especially by boat on the Lake Kivu”
The family of Mwemera and Mukamana that was visited in Rutsiro also paid a visit to visit Simon’s family in Rubavu. They gain real friends in this process of placing children in families. This foster family has received and adopted a child named Kaveyo. These children recognized each other and are happy to meet whenever their foster parents organized visits.
This family headed by Mr Simon who welcomed this child, have also played a great role to identify and interest other potential foster carers in their community. He told them how it iwas good to observe the development of a child saved from hopeless life of the orphanage. Mr Simon told us: “I remember how this child was accused of developmental delay by her teacher but now she is at the same level of ability and performance at school with others”
The Express News