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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora