On Christmas eve, Regis Rwirangira and his wife from Remera in Gasabo district drove to an orphanage to surprise a lonely eight year old boy.
What they did has overwhelmed the little boy.
“We want to give the child the taste of a family because Christmas is about joy in a family,” Rwirangira told KT Press yesterday evening.
He said his family refused to enjoy this festive season when there are many sad and lonely children whom they can share the happiness with.
Rwirangira took the child for shopping. He bought him Christmas clothes, together with his two children aged 4 and 2 years.
This morning, they went to church and later went out for lunch.
The family will also do more shopping in town during the week and tour the beautifully decorated Kigali city.
Rwirangira is one of the 45 families who made a surprise closure of a child rehabilitation center as a Christmas gift.
A week ago, Centre Cyprien and Daphrose Rugamba, an orphanage and a rehabilitation center for street children in Kigali city, told the children that they would be treated to a special gift for Christmas.
The children endured the curiosity for seven days. They have always been given good food and nice clothes during festive seasons.
The morning of Christmas eve, 45 couples, equivalent to the number of the children in the center, arrived at the center and met with the director of the center, Joseph Bitega.
Bitega introduced the families to the children. “These are the gifts we told you last week. Each of you will spend a week in either of these families,” Bitega told the children.
The reaction from the children is indescribable. Excited, but speechless.
As each family walked away with the smiling children, Bitega waved to the children and told them that, “You will enjoy whatever gift God has placed in the family for you.”
These children are just among many in Rwanda who either have lost their parents or leave their families to live a street life due to conflicts in the family, poverty, and lack of caretakers after death of parents.
Comes Sinayitutse, in charge of rehabilitation and reintegration of street children at the National Council for Children told KT Press that over 23 centres across the country are rehabilitating 800 former street children.
The centres were founded by the government and others by philanthropists. These children are later helped to find families to adopt them.
Even those with parents are adopted, according to Sinayitutse, “because a child who was hurt by the family cannot directly be reintegrated.”
Meanwhile, the government provides a budget for these centers to organize and entertain children on Christmas and New Year’s Eve for those who are not able to find families to adopt them.
Currently, the government is encouraging more families to adopt homeless children as it plans to close orphanages.
A campaign that started in 2012 closed 34 orphanages that accommodated 3323 children.
Over 2000 children were either adopted or fostered in a family, and the government closed their orphanages.
For the first time in 70 years now, Orphelinat Saint Noel, the oldest and the biggest orphanage with 500 children in Rubavu district, Western province, did not celebrate Christmas. All the children were away happily enjoying with their foster families.
As for the Regis Rwirangira family, “It is saddening for a lonely child to see others enjoying when they are not.”
But with the new member in the house, Christmas became more meaningful than ever before.