If the video is not showing above, click the following link to see how small and vulnerable many of these street children are — http://vimeo.com/21435383
Like many cities around the world, Kigali has many homeless children that live on the streets, facing disease, extreme hardship and violence. But the problem here has been made more severe by war in the early 90’s and the devastation of HIV/ Aids. UNICEF estimates that there are over 7,000 street children in Kigali, Rwanda’s booming Capitol.
Several years ago the executive director of the Rwanda chapter of Prison Fellowship, Pastor Deo Gashagaza, along with his wife Christine, began an outreach to help break the cycle of poverty and oppression for some of these children. Today they serve 85 children each week in the vicinity of the Prison Fellowship office. Ranging in age from very young to 22, these children are either totally orphaned and living on the streets (under bridges, etc) or in such dire home situations that they spend most of their time on the street with very little opportunity. This ministry, partnered with Mustard Seed Project, feeds them a healthy meal three times a week, gives them a chance to bath, offers counseling services, some basic educational skills, and spiritual support. Some of the older ones have begun to attend vocational school, and school opportunities are being sought for the younger children.
“We can’t fight trauma and crime by providing only food, only skills training, only counseling, only Bible teachings, only reconciliation work, or only shelter,” observes Pastor Deo. “We must provide all of these things, because they all operate together for optimal growth and well being”.
We spent about an hour with the children during their usual Wednesday program, and we see the love they are receiving and the hope that is being placed into their lives. You can support this work through the Mustard Seed Project web site, especially as they are looking for people to provide sponsorships for school fees to get the children moving in a direction beyond the streets. The need is overwhelming, so we do what we can. Meeting these children in person does a lot to help us know that they are not statistics, but those who carry the image of God, with dignity and honour. Stepping into their lives changes us as well as them.