A good Samaritan who has been taking care of disabled and abandoned children is almost giving up after realising the community is not offering her any support.
In 2000, Léoncie Mukamwezi, founder of Handicap Rehabilitation for Development (HRD) started a campaign to gather abandoned children so that the community could see them and actually support them.
In Muhanga district, her center hosts 37 children with disabilities.
Four years ago Rwanda started implementing a policy to close orphanages and have every child adopted in a family. So far over 2000 children from orphanages have found new families.
However, Mukamwezi is disappointed that no family has come to take a child from her center and a few people accept to offer something for this children’s wellbeing.
“This is their home, there is nowhere else to go because we don’t know their origins,” she said Tuesday during an event to mark the African Child Day in Muhanga District.
Mukamwezi says she gets support from Muhanga district which has helped in naming and registering them and purchasing their health insurance.
But, it’s difficult to access medical care since the district vehicle, which is their only means of transport is not always available.
“Most of these children are epileptic. We share the ambulance with Muhanga district and sometimes, it’s not available when these children are sick,” she said.
Eugenie Mukankaka, Psychologist at National Commission for Children pledged to make a report on the challenges HRD faces and advocate on their behalf.
“I have heard all today and have seen with my eyes. I will make a report and advocate on behalf of HRD, to prevent claims that children’s rights are not fully observed,” she said.
HRD cares for up to 300 children but 37 of them with major disabilities live at HRD premises.
Muhanga district announced plans to get a new home for the grown up children and separate them from young children.
Florentine Uwamariya, in charge of disabled children at the National Council of People with Disabilities told KT Press, that Rwanda has 54 centers of children with disability where charity organizations offer support .
Some of the children were surrendered to the centers by parents for medication and might return to their families afterwards.
However, others were found on the streets by well-wishers after their families abandoned them.
Some children were abandoned far from their homes, while others were kept in homes where their parents raise them as “things”.
The genuine number of abandoned disabled children is not known yet, according to National Council of People with Disabilities.
However, this year, the country is expected to conduct a census to know their exact figure and categorize them while identifying how they ended into centers.