Streets Ahead Rwanda (SAR) was established in 2009 to support Rwandan community based organisations working with marginalised and vulnerable youth in Rwanda, particularly children who are or have been on the street, helping them back into society again by providing long term support through a child centred approach.
There are tens of thousands of street children living in Rwanda. These children have been displaced due to a number of socio-economic and political factors including the legacy of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, poverty, familial abuse and neglect.
When a child makes the decision to leave home for a life on the street they are not opting out of society but looking for opportunity. It is the failings of society, the systems, or lack of that opts a child ‘out’.
SAR works in partnership with a Rwandan NGO, the Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association (SACCA), to address the problems of street children. SACCA is an established community based NGO in eastern Rwanda with a successful record. Our partnership involves a close working relationship with SACCA’s management and a central role in programme planning and development.
SACCA operates in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Rehabilitation Centres are based in Kabarondo (for boys) and Kayonza (for girls). The Head Office is in Kayonza, and Social Work is coordinated from that office. Since its foundation in 2003 SACCA has reintegrated more than 1200 children with family or community.
We work to promote high standards of practice in social care, childcare and support, education and vocational training, health, health education, and child protection. We also work with SACCA to improve management practice and tools, all of which are vital to maximising the effectiveness of funding.
The rehabilitation centres provide shelter and care to children who wish to leave the street – some children stay long term, others stay on a temporary basis waiting to be reintegrated with their families. No child is made to do anything for which she or he does not feel ready. If a child does not wish to sleep at the centre, she / he can still be involved and accepted as part of the programme.
While SAR & SACCA look to help children return home and reintegrate in their families, forcing children is not productive. SACCA’s team of social workers establishes links and works with both child and family to ensure the appropriateness of such a move, facilitating reintegration where it is appropriate. Families may then be provided with material assistance (typically emergency food and educational equipment, school fees and small-scale income generating projects) and follow up activities to address the reasons for the original separation.
It is often the case that reintegration for a streetchild may be an option after various stages of involvement with SACCA. Where reintegration with family is not possible or would be unstable and inappropriate SACCA will look to integrate children in their original home community, or in the communities around the centres, as semi-independent young adults.