News / Africa

    Rwanda's Orphanage Free Plan Leaves Children Fearful

    Teenage Orphans listen as officials explain that the Noel Orphanage will be downsized, and they will be relocated.
    Teenage Orphans listen as officials explain that the Noel Orphanage will be downsized, and they will be relocated.
    Heather Murdock

    As part of a plan to make Rwanda "orphanage-free," this central African nation plans to close the doors of its largest and oldest orphanage to children over three years old.  And while officials say the children will be placed in safe host families, orphans say strangers or families that abandoned them will not take care of them. 

    The room is tense, but when called upon to pray, the teenage orphans sing out.  They have just been told that their home, the Noel Nyundo Orphanage will be downsizing.  About 450 children over three years old will be placed in families. For many with no known relatives, that means with strangers.

    Teens speak out

    After the announcement, the teens looked pensive. At the Noel, children have food, shelter, friends and the chance to go to school.  For orphans in one of the world’s poorest countries, this is a lot to lose.

    The officials sat down, giving the children a chance to speak.  One by one, the teens stood up and expressed their fears.  Officials listened carefully, taking notes.

    One boy said in families they will not be treated like sons or daughters - they will be treated like servants. A girl pointed out that her family abandoned her. She said they will have to be forced to take her back.

    Another boy stood up and said when he tried to go home and take back his family’s land he was attacked and blinded.  A girl said she was threatened.  In Africa’s most densely populated country, orphans returning to villages to claim their family’s old land are not normally welcomed.

    Several teens asked about school - they are afraid they will be forced to drop out.  The teens applauded when one boy suggested that everyone stay put until they finish school.

    But officials say the teens have nothing to fear. 

    Gradual downsize

    Benilde Uwababyeyi specializes in child protection at the Rwandan Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. She says the downsizing of the orphanage will be gradual, and all of the children will be placed carefully.  The poorest families who take in orphans, she says, will get money to help pay for food, clothes and school fees.  

    “We will not reintegrate that child, even though she or he has family, without the acceptance of that family. If it refuses, we will not bring that child to the family,” Uwababyeyi said.

    She says the downsizing of the Noel orphanage is part of a larger plan to phase orphanages out of Rwanda altogether. Seventeen years after genocide and civil war devastated the country, leaving millions dead and hundreds of thousands of parentless children she says Rwanda can take care for its children without orphanages.

    Foreign aid

    But international donors say closing the Noel discourages much-needed foreign aid.  

    Charles Trace is the chairman of the United Kingdom-based Point Foundation, which over the past few years has funded new medical and dining facilities, dormitories, bathrooms, a library and a computer room - all for the older children of the Noel.

    He says while the Point Foundation intends to continue its support for the Noel, downsizing the orphanage after all that investment is already making some of his donors consider moving their money out of Rwanda.

    “If we put the resources into doing what we’ve done and a year later found that somebody has come and taken it all over - whether it's for their own purpose or their community purpose - I won’t probably do that anymore,” Trace stated.

    Impractical measure

    Trace also says closing all orphanages is impractical, as it will not stop mothers from dying and babies from being abandoned.

    For most of the 600 children at the Noel, however, their departure from the orphanage appears to be certain, though not immediate.  Mama Ineza works at Noel and says she is glad the ministry decided to send the children away gradually, without a time limit.

    She says that with so many children at the Noel, and babies continuing to be found by police or being dropped at the center, she says it may even be hard for even God to find homes for them all.






    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora