News spread around Rubavu district, then Gisenyi prefecture Western Rwanda early 1950s, that neighbors had buried a live child with her dead mother “because there was no caretaker.”
Two secondary school girls, Felicite Niyitegeka and Athanasie Nyirabagesera, with the help of the Catholic Church started an orphanage to take care of children with no parents or families.
They started St. Noel Orphanage of Nyundo with a-500 children capacity.
“Families used to rush babies to us after they had lost their mothers. We were always there to show them love of a mother,” says Nyirabagesera, now 80 years old and still single.
She was recently rewarded with a modern house worth Rwf40 million ($55476) by the association of Rwandan female leaders (Unity Club) for her philanthropy.
After, Nyirabagesera’s orphanage, the catholic church began supporting other orphanages around the country.
Meanwhile, after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, the number of orphanages increased to take care of thousands of genocide orphans.
In 2010, Rwanda decided that every orphanage be closed and children be adopted or fostered by families.
Child reintegration started in 2012, with 3323 orphans included in 34 orphanages countrywide.
Today, 12 orphanages have closed.
The recent of them was St. Noel, the biggest with over 500 children, closed on June 18, 2015.
Francois Bisengimana, the National Child Council (NCC) Executive Secretary told KT Press that over 1800 children now live in families while 1500 children have note yet.
Prior to taking a child into a family, several investigations are carried out; the child’s origin, mental divisibilities and abilities, desires, and others.
For a family to adopt or foster a child, they should be willing and be financially able to provide his or her basic needs. However, a child has the right to accept or refuse the family.
“It’s about having a generous heart, not being that much wealthy,” says Plukeria Mutendezangohe 53, a mother of five who fostered a girl-child aged five from MPORE PEFA, an orphanage in Kicukiro district, Kigali City.
The child started nursery school last year. She calls Mutendezangohe her mother.
At the moment, two generous families with good integrity in the community are always on standby to temporarily take an abandoned child before the NCC finds a family to adopt or foster the child.