A deep bond of love and trust: a foster family story from Rwanda

The orphanage did provide Patty with food and shelter but, like all children, he needed and deserved so much more. In order to develop and thrive, Patty needed individual care and attention. He needed love. Luckily for Patty, there was a woman working in the orphanage called Olivia who understood this. She could see how desperately he wanted and needed a family of his own. Olivia and her husband, Claver, arranged to become his godparents.

Your generosity means Patty, seen here with his mum Olivia, and sister Ketrah, is now part of a loving family.

Patty is a curious, affectionate little boy and today he’s growing up at the heart of a loving family. But Patty’s early life was marred by tragedy; his mum died when he was born. His parents were living in a refugee camp at the time and his dad could not care for both his new-born son and his older children by himself. He made the heart-breaking decision to place Patty in an orphanage and prayed that he’d done the right thing. The orphanage did provide Patty with food and shelter but, like all children, he needed and deserved so much more. In order to develop and thrive, Patty needed individual care and attention. He needed love. Luckily for Patty, there was a woman working in the orphanage called Olivia who understood this. She could see how desperately he wanted and needed a family of his own. Olivia and her husband, Claver, arranged to become his godparents.

“A deep bond of love and trust grew between them”

As Patty grew older, the nuns allowed Patty to spend his holidays with Olivia and Claver and a deep bond of love and trust grew between them all. Then, when Patty was nearly five, our team began work to close the orphanage by finding loving families for all the children. This was the chance Patty and his godparents had been waiting for. Once the necessary checks and training had been carried out, they became Patty’s official foster parents and he left the orphanage to join his new family for good.

Today, Patty is settled and content in his new home and especially close to his foster sister, Ketrah. “I never want to go back to an orphanage,” Patty told us, “because I am happy and comfortable with my foster family. They give me all the love and care I need.”

A foster family story

Olivia and her husband Claver had always loved children and had longed for a child of their own for many years. Olivia would return home in the evenings, from her work at the orphanage, and share the children’s sad stories with her husband. She told him about Patty, how bright and affectionate he was and how badly he needed a family of his own. By becoming Patty’s godparents, Olivia and Claver hoped they would be able to show they were committed to him and help him to feel wanted. Then the Rwandan Government’s policy of closing orphanages and finding loving families for children instead gave Olivia and Claver the opportunity to welcome Patty into their family more permanently. “I have always loved Patty since the time I was given the responsibility of being his godparent,” Claver explained. “My desire has always been to give him an opportunity to enjoy family care in our home.” Patty and his godparents were given time and support to prepare for the move, something both Olivia and Claver believe was vital to make this type of alternative care a success.

But today, Patty not only has a mum and dad to love him, he has a sister and a brother too! Ketrah joined the family from an orphanage when she was five and then, to everyone’s delight and surprise, Olivia discovered she was pregnant. “We had prayed for another baby and this is God’s way,” she told us. Baby Nelly is now a year old and doted on by all.

Olivia and Claver thought they might never have children, Ketrah and Patty thought they might never have parents or siblings of their own and yet today, because of your support, they are together as a family.

Patty (right) with his foster sister Ketrah

Rwanda: the first African Country to commit to closing all its orphanages

Hope and Homes for Children has been operating in Rwanda since 2002, successfully working on a number of family and community based initiatives. Since 2010 we have been supporting the Government of Rwanda in the elimination of institutions throughout the country and on the development of a national child protection system that minimises family separation and provides family-based alternatives when necessary.

Our team assisted with the closure of 13 orphanages across the country including Rwanda’s oldest and largest institution Orphelinat Noel de Nyundo and helped transition over 1,300 children into families and communities.

In 2012, the Rwandan Government becomes the first government in Africa to commit to closing orphanages. Since 2012, the number of children without disabilities in orphanages there has reduced from 3,500 to 500. There are still 4,300 children with disabilities in orphanages in the country today.

How you can help to give a child a family they would never have had

On average we invest approximately £1,500 to create a new family for a child rescued from an orphanage. If you gave, alongside seven other supporters, £20 each month, you could help us to give a child a family they would never otherwise have had. You can discover your options at this link.