Developing Community Services: Cyiza’s story
When Cyiza was born, his mother, Sisi, had very little to live on. She earned what she could, taking occasional work wherever she could find it. To begin with, Sisi was able to carry Cyiza on her back and take him with her but, as he grew bigger, this became less and less practical.
By the time Cyiza was two, Sisi had no choice but to leave him at home by himself for long periods while she searched for work. She relied on her neighbours to keep an eye on Cyiza and to feed him. She was constantly worried about her son’s safety and well-being. She knew Cyiza was at great risk of being taken from her and placed in an institution.
In January 2016, Cyiza and Sisi were referred to their local Community Hub – one of a network established by Hope and Homes for Children in Rwanda, offering support services for vulnerable families to prevent children being sent to institutions.
Our Community Hubs are established in collaboration with local communities and provide a core set of services, tailored to meet local needs. These may include day care, vocational and adult training, recreational activities, a venue for community meetings and the delivery of services such as health checks, vaccinations, health and pre-school education. Our ultimate goal is for communities to own and run hubs themselves. They are important for bringing communities together, they help break down barriers and encourage members of the community to support the more vulnerable families among them. Community Hubs are an essential service to prevent family separation and to support the reunification of children with their families.
Once they were enrolled at the Community Hub, Sisi was able to access Day Care for Cyiza while she looked for work. She knew that her child was her safe and happy in an environment that supported his learning and development.
Eleven months on, and Sisi is delighted by Cyiza’s progress. “The Community Hub has given my son so many new opportunities”, she says. “See how well he looks and how happy he is, smiling and playing!”
“Before Cyiza came here, he was always crying and he did not look well”, Sisi explains. “Often he was dirty because we were not there to take care of him.”
Now, our staff at the Hub tell us, Cyiza is thriving. He is a playful little boy who is much more confident than he used to be around other children and adults. Cyiza is four now and can continue to attend the Community Hub for another two years.
Sisi says, “I am so thankful for this service because it helps children, but it helps parents too. When we know that our children are here, our minds are at rest and we can look for ways to improve our lives.”