This year, MindLeaps implemented a “home visit” program. In Rwanda, there are vulnerable children who work on the streets during the day, but return to a “home” at night. This might be a house that belongs to a mother, father, cousin, uncle, aunt or some other caretaker. The child will usually spend the day on the street to beg or steal for food, but may return to the caretaker’s house at night to sleep.
For our “home visit program”, we arranged that our dance and IT teachers, Innocent and Ssali, would visit the families and caretakers of these vulnerable youth twice a week.
A few weeks ago, a particular student’s home was visited. His mom is HIV+, and he has six siblings. When his mom visited our center, she confessed that she grew up on the streets in Nyamirambo as well. Even today, she has no job and she lives under extremely poor living conditions. For many years, her children have been spending their days on the streets looking for food. After six months of participating in the MindLeaps programs, her son decided to return home and stop sleeping on the streets. “At our home,” she remarked with deep gratitude, “I am so happy to have my son back.”
Innocent and Ssali have recognized the importance of home visits. After many visits, the MindLeaps team realized that some parents and relatives of our students are becoming more involved in the lives of their children. Parents and caretakers are now happy that their children are spending time in a good way – learning something that might help them in the future. Some kids have already permanently returned to their homes and extended family members.
The home visit program strengthens the ties between some street children and their families, which are often strained to a breaking point, and it prevents further deterioration in their relationship. The home visits also help in preparing the family to receive the children after MindLeaps helps those ones who decide to leave the street forever.
Eugene Dushime is the Country Director for MindLeaps Rwanda. He is a former contemporary dancer and assists with the program in Guinea as well.