Most of the kids you see loitering on the streets of Kigali and other major cities would have actually left their both parents back home, a nationwide study says.
The National Commission for Children (NCC), a government body, conducted the ground research in all the 30 districts of Rwanda finding a total of 2,882 on the streets. The finds were released Wednesday at an event in Kigali.
But among this total, NCC found that 1,629 kids who are called ‘Mayibobo’ in Kinyarwanda, have both their mum and dad – which is 56.52% of the total.
It is not the first research on street kids, whom if you move around Kigali during the late night hours, you will see them hidden in drainages.
Sometimes the kids are picked up the authorities who take them to transit centers by force, like one in Bugesera district. Once there, the parents a tracked down, or guardian, to get back their kids. They are given serious warning.
Some of the kids, that are old enough are taken to the Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Center (RSDC) on Lake Kivu or simply known as IWAWA. There, they spend months, or even years, learning a professional skill, then given free tools and cash to start own business.
The NCC research “A Comprehensive Assessment Of The Street Children Phenomenon In Rwanda,” reports that from the full total, 202 have only their fathers, while 490 have their mums only. However, the remaining 135 are orphans with neither of the parents.
The street kids interviewed said that they cannot live at home because of unending bitter fights in the house by mum and dad. Others cited extreme poverty – some saying their parents send them out there to find food. Some simply said their parents dont care about them.
The Children’s Commission in its report says poverty leaves the children unable to access basic needs like food and school materials.
Many of the kids run away home from due to mistreatment, and will cry if you try to take them back.
Gasabo District in City of Kigali has the biggest number of street kids, followed by Nyarugenge district – also in Kigali. Huye District in the Southern Province come third.
The districts with least number of such a problem with some having no street kids at all are: Gakenke (nothern) Nyagatare and Kirehe – both in east.
In its recommendations, National Commission For Children says it requires a period of two years to take off the streets all the 2,882 children, back to families or a place to call home.
“For their rehabilitation to be possible, it requires eliminating what brings them to the streets, such that they can go back in a normal family setting,” said Lambert Hategekimana Ag. Head of Child Rights Unit at NCC.
Another strange element from the research is that 55.6% of the kids spend all their day and nights on the street.
But 44.3% of them spend their day on the street and go home in the evening – indication they are on the streets to find food.