26 Jul Streets Ahead Rwanda supports protection of girls
In Rwanda, the provisions of protection and rehabilitation for women and girls is poor at best and virtually non existent at worst. Streets Ahead Rwanda has supported the running of one of only two children centres in Rwanda that works with street girls and the only one supporting young mothers.
With the girls centre in desperate need of renewal, we were proud to attend the opening of the new girls’ centre in December 2016, with support for securing funding coming from SAR. We view the protection and rehabilitation of girls as absolutely crucial. The need to provide a “safe place” is paramount, removing as many girls as possible from the risks posed by living on the streets, namely: sexual exploitation, potential substance and alcohol abuse, violence, hunger and disease to name a few.
The new girls’ centre was constructed with the following objectives:
- To increase capacity of the girls’ centre to 60 with adequate space for recreation and potential for expansion
- To increase capacity to provide services to children and the community including psycho-social support and counselling
- To improve girls’ security
The new centre was built using building trainees from the Livelihoods Programme we run with our delivery partner SACCA’s. The Livelihoods Programme enrols young women and men onto courses to improve their employability by training them in specific vocations they choose from and that have been identified as having high employment prospects.
The official opening of the buildings took place on 18th December 2016 and well attended by; local authorities, SACCA current Livelihoods members and graduates, reintegrated beneficiaries, their families, community members and representatives of donors, with the key note speaker was the Mayor of Kayonza.
Mayor MURENZI Jean Claude
The centre plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process of ex-street girls. Children are encouraged to participate in decision making via elected committees and in doing their own chores including cooking. It is essential to establish and maintain an atmosphere of commitment to education, hard work and positive behaviour in the centre, to enable faster behavioural change in newly arriving children.
As well as more spacious spacious sleeping dorms, showers and toilets which substantially improved hygiene and sanitation, it also has a library for girls to improve their literacy skills, training rooms to administer learning such as the Livelihoods Programme, a vegetable garden that helps improve their nutrition and learn important agronomic skills, and a safe space for recreation indoors and outdoors.
The increased residential capacity of the new centre enabled SACCA to quickly respond to the increased number of children on the streets in the wake of the food shortages this year. Because of changing weather patterns, farmers in the countryside surrounding Kayonza struggled to harvest the staples for their subsistence. As a result many families went hungry and children had to leave in hope of earning some money on the streets.
The new centre means double the capacity of girls can be accommodated, which given the lack of other similar services in the area(s), is hugely important. 25 vulnerable girls are now staying at the centre where they are offered safe accommodation, rehabilitation services, proper nutrition, education and care and affection. The maximum capacity is 60, which we hope to eventually reach, but we will need to access more funding before this is possible. If you would like to donate to the welfare of street girls in Rwanda and the other vital SAR activities, please donate today.