Las year, Wikwiheba Mwana an institution of children with disabilities based in Ngarama Sector, Gatsibo district were closed down. It was for the first time that an orphanage housing children with disabilities has been professionally closed and all the children are now enjoying the love of a family.
Initially Wikwiheba Mwana has 26 children. Among them, 19 were reunited with their families, 2 joined their extended family members while others were fostered.
“24 children out of 26 were reunited with their biological families. This proves that many children in orphanages have their biological families. Those families were supported and all the children now have the love and individual care they need to develop and thrive,” said Innocent Habimfura the Country Director at Hope and Homes for Children (HHC) in Rwanda.
HHC works in close partnership with the National Commission for Children, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and district child protection professionals throughout the closure process to guarantee that the best interests of children were served at every stage.
Another fundamental part of the closure programme has been to establish the local support services that are vital to keep vulnerable families together.
Cary (name withheld) is one of the children who has been reunited with her family after spending most of her childhood in the orphanage in Gatsibo. She has cerebral palsy, which makes it hard for her to control her movements and affects her speech. Her family made the heart-breaking decision to place her in the orphanage when she was five because they did not have the support they needed to care for her at home.
When HHC social workers visited her for the first time in 2015, she was so desperate to leave the orphanage; she had gone on hunger strike. “No one cares for me here,” she told them. “I want to be at home”
During the closure ceremony of Wikwiheba Mwana, Ms Kantengwa Mary, the Vice Mayor in charge of Social affairs in Gatsibo district urged parents to take good care of their children because, she reiterated: “they are the future of our country”
In March 2012, the Cabinet of the Republic of Rwanda approved the National Strategy for Child Care Reform. The aim of the strategy was to transform Rwanda’s then childcare and child protection system into a family-based, family-strengthening system whose resources (both human and financial) are primarily targeted at supporting vulnerable families to remain together.144