Seeing is believing – People’s Postcode Lottery visits Rwanda
We are grateful for the support that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have given to our work in Rwanda this year. In June, the organisation’s Senior Programmes Manager, Sanjay Singh, travelled to Kigali to see for himself our project to complete the first closure of an institution for children with disabilities there.
People’s Postcode Lottery’s Senior Programmes Manager, Sanjay Singh, visit to Kigali
“Visiting the Gahanga institution in Kigali was a shocking experience. I vividly remember the high metal gates at the entrance. It didn’t look like a place any child should live.
Inside we met babies, children and even some young adults, all with very severe physical or learning difficulties. Conditions were extremely basic. There was a very strong smell of urine and what little equipment there was looked worn-out and dated. Even putting aside these practical concerns, it was clear these children had none of the love and emotional support they needed and that was hard to stomach.
Leaving the orphanage, it would have been easy to have felt overwhelmed by the scale of the task ahead and it’s clearly early days. That’s why it was great to also see how Hope and Homes for Children is recruiting and training specialist foster families to care for the children from the institution. At the same time they are working to support existing families of children with disabilities to be able to care for their children and not have to resort to placing them in the orphanage.
The highlight of my trip though was meeting Steve and his family because, if I hadn’t seen it for myself, I don’t think I would have believed it. Steve has cerebral palsy and spent the first five years of his life in an orphanage with no one to care for him. When Steve first joined his foster parents, both his legs were broken and he was incontinent. Thanks to their devotion, his recovery has been extraordinary. Today Steve is ten years old and he is a happy, playful confident boy who is clearly very much loved.
I was also struck by the strong sense of connection and trust between Steve, his family and the team from Hope and Homes for Children. All the staff I met are clearly very dedicated and full of knowledge and understanding. This isn’t just technical knowledge. They also have the cultural understanding that’s so crucial for projects like this to work.
Overall, what my visit to Rwanda showed me is that, with Hope and Homes for Children, what’s written on the page is also true on the ground.”
A STORY OF HOPE: A NEW LIFE FOR LORETTE
An accident when she was just seven condemned Lorette to a lonely childhood in a series of Rwandan orphanages. The last of these was the Gahanga institution for children with disabilities in Kigali, which Hope and Homes for Children is now working to close. Lorette spent 12 years surviving in appalling conditions there, but today she is free. With our support Lorette is now studying at University and building an independent life for herself. Read her story at this link.
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