Baby in the bushes

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Gihozo is four years old and she is the apple of her family’s eye. She lives in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, with her foster parents, Jane and James, who are both nurses, and her five teenage brothers and sisters.

One day, in October 2012, Jane heard a baby crying just outside her house. She sent her children to investigate and they discovered Gihozo, abandoned in some bushes. A note left with the baby gave her date of birth. She was just five days old. Jane and James did not hesitate. They took Gihozo into their home and cared for her while they waited for the authorities to decide what to do.

In the few short days that she lived with them, the whole family fell in love with Gihozo. They were dismayed when they were told that they must take her to the city’s main orphanage and leave her there. When Jane arrived at the institution, she was horrified by the crowded conditions and feared for Gihozo’s future. The staff were adamant: she had to hand the baby over and would not be allowed to see her again.

Jane and her family couldn’t bear to leave Gihozo to struggle for survival in a loveless institution and so they came up with a plan. Jane decided to volunteer as a helper at the orphanage. That way she would be able to look out for Gihozo and try to maintain their bond. And for over a year that’s exactly what she did.

Then in January 2014 Hope and Homes for Children began work to close the orphanage where Gihozo lived by finding families for all the children there. We tried to trace Gihozo’s birth family but without success. We knew about her connection with Jane’s family and so we went to visit them. Jane was at work at the time but when she came home and heard that we had called, she says that she shouted for joy. This was just the opportunity she had been hoping for.

Our specialist social workers assessed Jane and James as suitable foster parents and gave them the training they needed to meet Gihozo’s needs. It was clear from the beginning that there was a strong attachment between both parents and the baby girl who had been abandoned at their gate. In July 2014, Gihozo left the orphanage to join her new family.

Today, Gihozo is a happy, playful little girl. She is very close to both her foster parents and doted on by her older brothers and sisters. Jane and James have now begun the process of officially adopting Gihozo. They are determined to make her a permanent part of their family and never allow her to be separated from them again.

Every pound you donate to the End the Silence campaign before the 27th December will be doubled by the UK Government. It means that together, we can reach over 120,000 children across Rwanda and Uganda who are currently confined to orphanages or at risk of being separated from their families.