Impressions of Rwanda, Mar ’13
Our main objective was to meet local civil society organisations (CSOs) who would be a good fit for, and interested in joining the Family for Every Child Steering Committee. We sought to also gain more insight into how Rwandan civil society organisations have addressed child rights, child protection and family care needs, against a very difficult history and environment of recovery and rehabilitation.
Rwandans struck me as citizens who are determined to move forward and resuscitate a positive culture of supporting each other, re-building relationships with government and accessing service delivery institutions. The most encouraging quality I observed was the commitment (pervading most CSO’s principles and codes of practice), to reviving and retaining mental health and stability amongst citizens in the light of the trauma and psychological strife experienced by millions of men, women and children alike.
There are great opportunities for advancing the needs of children without alternative or parental care, particularly in the light of the government’s commitment to close all institutions and place children in family environment within the next two years. Granted, this is rather ambitious, but it is well-meaning and there is a need for CSOs to support and advise government to make this process more thought out, meaningful and with positive outcomes for children in need of family care and support.
Nicola (Pigott, Family for Every Child Manager) and I met a number of organisations during that week and were pleased to identify some institutions that showed a commitment to assisting children without alternative care, supporting children in adversity, re-integrating separated children back into supportive foster care or extended families, supporting children with disabilities, providing both direct and psycho-social support to children – headed families, widows and families struggling to access basic socio-economic rights, such as education.