Salesians in Rwanda Seeking Support
to Protect Dignity of Vulnerable Children
Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) serving in Rwanda are seeking financial help from people of goodwill to help them protect children at risk in the Great Rift Valley nation.
In a Tuesday, April 27 report obtained by ACI Africa, the financial administrator of the St Charles Lwanga Vice Province of Africa Great Lakes (AGL), Br. Hubert Twagirayezu, says, “We ask for financial help to protect children at risk and to raise awareness in the world community to promote respect for the dignity of the world's vulnerable children.”
“The situation of street children is characterized by high uncertainty and a continuous violation of their rights: from education to the right to health, protection, food, to live with their parents,” the Salesian Brother whose mandate extends to Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda adds in the report.
He further says referencing the street children, “Everyone has dropped out of school and often has a tough job to earn a few cents. Most of them suffer from malnutrition and other diseases such as dysentery, malaria, and scabies.”
Street children in Rwanda “also suffer from lack of sleep: they stop only a few hours a day on cardboard and sleep with one eye open for fear that someone will steal the few things they have. Many consume risk-taking drugs to forget their problems,” the Rwandese-born Salesian says.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are about 7,000 street children in the landlocked nation, with at least another 300,000 living in families with a minor as head of the family.
In the assessment of the leadership of the Salesian Missionaries in the country, “The pandemic, with the consequent economic crisis, has led to an increase in the number of street children.”
“To get them out of this hopeless life, the first thing they need is to be shown kindness, have something to eat and go back to school,” Br. Hubert says in the April 27 report referencing the street children in Rwanda.
According to the 39-year-old Salesian Brother, members of the St. John Bosco-founded Religious Institute in Rwanda carry out their mission “among poor children and young people” including about 120 street children in the Rango area within the Catholic Diocese of Butare.
However, the Salesian financial administrator notes that “there are many more” street children at the national level in the country.
Towards helping the vulnerable children, the Salesian missionaries in Rwanda started a project targeting the street children in 2016, under the St. John Bosco Rango Parish of Butare Diocese.
Through the project, the goal of SDB members “is to touch different aspects of the person: body care, (and) the suspension of drug use. Children are treated, they learn hygiene again, they play sports,” Br. Hubert says in the April 27 report.
“From a psychological point of view we try to listen to these children, to help them to recover slowly from the trauma, and to regain confidence in themselves and in others,” the SDB official says in the report published by Agenzia Info Salesiana, the information service of the Salesian Congregation.
He adds, “We want children to be happy, to continue studying and learning to read, but also to play; that they receive new clothes, uniforms, and that they regain respect for adults and other children; and that they can participate in the prayer activity of the Salesian center, respecting the sensitivity and history of each one, since the center welcomes children of all faiths.”
In the assessment of Br. Hubert regarding the situation in the Rango area of Butare Diocese, “the Salesians would like to increase the preparation of enough food for everyone and build a hospitality center for them, but we still need financial support.”