We’re delighted to share our new partnership with UNICEF Rwanda, reintegrating children with disabilities in orphanages back with their families. Rwanda wants to become the first orphanage-free country in Africa, and since 2012 has closed over half of its 39 institutions. Thousands of children are already back with their families. Now, your support is ensuring children with disabilities don’t get left behind. Over the next year, your support will reach 5,000 children with disabilities in Rwanda!
While orphanages often portray an illusion of child protection, they are very harmful to children’s health and development. In Rwanda, orphanages remain a legacy of colonial rule. And many children with disabilities end up in them because of poverty and lack of support in their communities. Families can’t afford essential services such as education and healthcare for their children with complex needs. Orphanages promise the support that families can’t give. But this comes at a huge cost: tearing children away from their parents and communities. Now, children in orphanages feel rejected and unloved by their parents, who they believe gave up on them. They see themselves as outsiders to their community. This exclusion has severe and long-lasting impacts on children’s mental health.
But there is an alternative. By investing in support for families, and bringing the services they need closer to them, children with disabilities can grow up in their own communities. Rwanda’s aim to close all orphanages and focus on providing support for families will give children the childhood and life chances they deserve.
While huge progress has been made over the last few years, thousands of children with disabilities are at risk of being left out of the programme. So, we’re working to ensure that children with disabilities can return home! Firstly, we’re working with the families directly to understand the support they need to care for their children. This is the first consultation with families of its kind and means we’ll make sure the support they receive is appropriate and tailored to them, ensuring they feel involved throughout the process.
Parent Support Groups in Rwanda bring families of children with disabilities together
Over the next year, we’ll provide training to parents to help them include their children with disabilities at home. For example, parents of children with developmental disabilities will learn how to communicate, feed, and play with their children. We’re also connecting families and helping them to form Parent Support Groups, where they can come together to share their experiences and support each other. For children with physical disabilities, we’re also helping families to make their homes more accessible, while providing wheelchairs and other assistive devices.
Your support will have a long-term impact in communities as well. Our field team in Rwanda will run community advocacy events which will change negative attitudes towards children with disabilities. Together with the children, families, and communities, we’ll create an inclusive environment for children to thrive in!
Stephane Nyembo, Chance for Childhood’s Rwanda Country Representative, said:
“We are delighted to be working with UNICEF Rwanda to further the Government of Rwanda’s Child Care Reform strategy. Together with the National Council of Persons with Disabilities and the National Child Development Agency, this vital project will address the needs of some of the most vulnerable children in our society. By reintegrating children into families, and working to prevent new separation, we are giving children with disabilities the best chance of a safe and happy childhood.
Your support makes vital projects like this happen! Can you help out by making a donation today? Your gift could help a child with disabilities to return to their family and help their family to support them to have a happy childhood.
Image copyright Arete/ Jacques Nkinzingabo on behalf of Chance for Childhood