Imagine you are a child: abandoned, homeless, a child in a city’s hell! Whether it be in a nice college town like Butare, or a national capital city like Kigali, it makes no difference. There is no caring loving touch, no one to even call you by name. Just “MAYIBOBO!” You are despised because you are desperate and helpless, with no one ask, no one to help, no one to comfort you.
This is exactly the life reality of street children. Street children or “Mayibobo” are young boys and girls who work and live on major streets in Rwanda without an adult supervision or care. These children are often victims of extreme violations of their basic rights by their peers or mainstream society. In spite their human vulnerability, needs, gifts and talents; these children are abandoned in their own isolated outcasts where their potential and skills remain undeveloped. The consequence of their desperation and abandonment has a far more reaching impact on their own lives in particular and society in general.
On street, children do everything in their capacity in order to survive for just one more day. Besides begging, children do all kinds of cheap labor including but not limited to car wash, protecting parked cars, carrying groceries, washing dishes in restaurants, etc. Unfortunately, the money they get paid is usually not even enough to buy a healthy meal.
At a certain age, they feel awkward to live on street. They are too old to beg or carry grocery! They have neither moral responsibility nor life skill at all! They are completely unprepared for successful, independent life away from street! There is no place, group or society they can fit in. This is when the problem becomes obvious. At this age, the street children are prepared for nothing but to become street robbers and armed gang members. Of course, this path of life has a lot of casualties along the sidewalks. This does not only lead to self-destruction, it also destroys the country. We are all potential victims of this unfortunate destiny in one way or another. This cycle of homelessness, poverty, and then abuse and violence adds an unbearable burden to the already overstretched social and public safety services.
Another common problem involves inappropriate sexual practices on street. While women are sexually exploited, spreading a number of STDs including HIV, men usually have children of their own they cannot take care of.Can you imagine a child being on street, having no idea who his dad is but believing that he likely is one of the criminals in the city?
At Umuryango, we want to put an end to a generational misery of the children by loving and equipping them. We love children, ours, yours, everybody’s and nobody’s: Children that nobody loves!