We’ve been working in Rwanda since 2009 to support children with disabilities. As the leading child-focused disability inclusion specialist in the country, we work to ensure the inclusion of the most marginalised children through inclusive early childhood development, inclusive education, teacher training, parenting education and through inputs at policy level.
Of Rwandans live on less than £1.50 a day.
The ratio of teachers to pupils in mainstream Rwandan schools.
Of the population are under 15 years old.
Ensuring young children with disabilities have the best start in life
The first 1,000 days are the most important in a child’s life. What happens or does not happen at this stage affects one’s life, survival and productivity in adulthood. This is particularly critical for children with disabilities, who are often subject to stigma, abuse, exploitation and neglect, and are at high risk of being excluded from early care and education.
Making early childhood development inclusive
In 2018, we launched ‘Strong Start’, our first Rwanda-based inclusive Early Childhood Development (ECD) pilot, in the Musanze District. ‘Strong Start’ is designed to increase access to pre-school education for children with disabilities. We are working closely with early childhood development centres to make them more accessible. During our pilot project, we trained 23 community health workers and staff from ECD centres in home-based inclusive ECD practices and early detection of children at risk of/with developmental delays or disabilities.
Our communication camps
Because of stigma and lack of education on disabilities, parents often don’t know how to communicate with their disabled children. Our survey showed that a majority of parents thought their children with disabilities could never learn, while others didn’t think they needed to learn as they would never be able to use their knowledge. Our 3-day ‘Communication Camps’ bring families of children with disabilities together. They tackle deep-rooted traditional attitudes and teach parents how to care for and play with their children.
of parents who attended our Communication Camps say they now understand how to support their children.
Marginalised people reached with face masks, food supplies and handwashing materials since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Will you help us by supporting our work?
Quality education for deaf and hearing-impaired children
There are only seven schools for deaf children in the whole of Rwanda and a lack of training amongst mainstream school teachers means that deaf children are usually left out of school, excluded and invisible in their communities. Unable to communicate, deaf children are often trapped in a world of their own. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to adults who abuse or rape them knowing there’s no way the child can tell anyone.
The school for deaf children
Set up in 2013, the school is the only one of its kind in the Nyabihu district. We work with Empowering Children with Disabilities to support 140 deaf children who are taught the national syllabus, along with Rwandan Sign Language and lip-reading (in English and local Kinyarwanda) to help them communicate better.
Empowering deaf girls through dance
Led by inclusion-trained dance teachers and supported by Comic Relief, we’re providing after-school dance classes to deaf girls and boys alongside their hearing peers. They help to break down barriers in the community while children who take sports classes after school are more likely to stay in school! These provide a safe space for young girls to express their opinions and share their struggles. Learn more about this project >
Children supported every year at the school for deaf children. £50 could give three nutritious meals a day to a child attending the school for a whole year!
Our response during COVID-19
We’re doing as much as we can to still meet the needs of these children and their families. Our team is working to provide telephone counselling to families of children with disabilities who would have attended the communication camps. Our Response Fund is helping to meet the immediate needs, allowing us to provide over 200 6-week food packages to those at the greatest risk. We’re also providing PPE to frontline staff to allow outreach work to continue where possible.
We’re also collaborating with the National Early Childhood Development Programme to develop resources which can be used by parents at home, such as radio broadcasts which empower parents of children with disabilities to provide inclusive Early Childhood Development in their homes.
“With Chance for Childhood’s support, I could get a face mask to safely go out and provide for my children.”Jean, father of 5
- Disability Screening Tools for Early Childhood Development, developed by Chance for Childhood (2019).
- Executive summary of the final external evaluation of our Education, Equality and Empowerment project (2017).
- Community mapping study of people with disabilities in Musanze, Gakenke, Nyabihu disctrics in Rwanda, summary report (2016).