One of the videos that hit the social media channels in 2020 was the one of a six years old young boy, Gatson, who felt into the River Yanze, a tributary of River Nyabarongo. In the video, the young boy was in the midst of a flooded stream, trying to hold himself on a rock.
Many people were standing at the shores glazing at what would happen with him. Then suddenly, Bunani, a 27-year-old man, rescued the boy with a ladder, which he scaled to get into the river, straddles the boy on his back then climbed up the bridge to the applause of the onlookers. Many Rwandans circulated this video on social media platforms to commend Bunani for his act of heroism.
After three days, the National Commission of Children (NCC) in collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda admitted Gatson to SOS Children’s Village Kayonza in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. This happened after an assessment of both parties that found out that the child has no one to take care of him. Gatson was surprised to be admitted to the SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda, which he considered as "a great chance of getting a family,” he said. "On my first day here, my mother fed me with roasted fish. It was the first time in my life that I ate fish. Then I slept in a nice bed instead of sleeping on the ground of the streets of Kigali the way I used to" he recalled.
“I suffered starting from a very young age until I joined SOS Children’s Village Kayonza. I survived only because I used to beg on the streets. I passed through different transit centres where the authorities were searching for my family but in vain. Gatson is dreaming to become a soldier one day, committed to protect his country.
Ingabire Vestine, his SOS Children’s Villages mother who cares for him said that he was in a very bad condition when he arrived. He did not sleep with others. “He would always sleep in the sitting room instead of going into the bedroom like the other children from the family. It took me a lot of efforts to change his character; however, today he is doing much better.”
Since January 2019, the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRS) signed an agreement with SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda to receive abandoned children and those who lost parental care. Most of these children experienced traumatic lives as they have been separated from their biological families and being exposed to a very harsh life in the streets.
Upon their admission, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda trained SOS Children’s Villages mothers and aunts on how to take care of children who used to live on the streets. Care plan mechanisms including intensive mental health and psychosocial support were provided by the OBEL funded Mental Health program.
SOS Children’s Villages began caring for these children with a six-month period of stabilisation then intensive three-month follow-up. These interventions were carried out by a project team, which included two clinical psychology volunteers by location. The interventions consisted of an individual assessment of the child, individual psychological follow-up, psychosocial group conversations that involve child friendly games, activities, regular follow-up and case management meetings with SOS Children’s Villages mother, aunts and social workers.