This program enables Love the Kids Rwanda to collaborate with like-minded parties in an effort to visit, understand, and provide psychosocial services to homeless and vulnerable children and their families. Children often come from unstable living situations including extreme poverty, family conflicts, parental deaths, neglect, illegal status, violence, and abuse. Even outside of the individual homes, abuse within the community is a problem that has a devastating impact on children. These unsafe and unwelcoming living situations contribute to the amount of children living on the streets. This program supports these children through social reintegration by removing them from unsafe situations or off of the street and into safe family environments. We make sure these environments remain safe by conducting regular monitoring and counseling to maintain a beneficial home for the children. We conduct regular home visits and also give the families who are raising the children the tools and skills to provide proper childcare. With the help of this program, children often can perform better at school and have a happier childhood when they have a stable life outside of school.
The Child Scholarship Program, launched in 2017, is a sustainable initiative dedicated to investing in children’s education. We recognize the formative nature of education in children’s lives. The program involves a collaboration between Love the Kids Rwanda team and individual donors or committed organizations to provide fully-funded scholarships. These scholarships benefit highly-selected but vulnerable children and allow them to enroll in primary and secondary schools. The selection of children to receive scholarships is highly competitive and well-informed. Through this program, Love the Kids Rwanda collaborates with sponsors and partnering schools to identify any challenges that beneficiaries may face in order to ensure that support is provided on time. At the end of every academic semester, the organization reports back to all donors about the scholars’ performance and areas of improvement. This communication between our program and the donors ensures that the donors are aware of the impact they are making on children’s lives. These scholarships truly change the lives of these children, allowing them to access opportunities they would have thought impossible, all through the donor’s generosity and the scholars’ hard work.
The After-School Program has been established with the aim to create a safe space to enrich children's potentials while providing several structural activities. These include providing academic enrichment, developing their interests through arts, music, sports and recreation, and teaching life skills. This program takes place every weekend and during school vacations. The programs during vacations are crucial because with free time and boredom, children are often at higher risk, but having a structured program and opportunity to have fun and learn will help them to develop and grow. This program offers new experiences to school aged children such as introducing them to community service, service-learning, apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities. Through interactions with other children, they will develop important social skills. Children will also have the opportunity to interact with supportive adults and build continuous positive relationships. Interactions with adults are very important for students as many of them have had negative experiences with the adults in their lives, so knowing they have a trusted adult to confide in and learn from is very important for development. We hope to strengthen, nurture, and empower children so they can live healthy, engaged and fulfilled lives.
The nutrition and good health program is a project based in the southern Huye district of Rwanda serving their poorest families. The project’s initiative is centered around combating malnutrition and educating kids about both livestock and produce farming as ways to support their educational fees. For example, Love the Kids Rwanda is currently running a program where the families of the 28 kids are given goats and receive aid in building a goat housing facility. This donation allows these families to produce milk for their own food, as well as goat manure to fertilize their crops. Another project is spearheading is in educating the kids we support with information and resources to create and maintain vegetable gardens with the land that we already own. Currently, younger generations of Rwandans often do not perceive agricultural farming as a lucrative career path because they commonly associate it as the jobs of the older generation. However, Love the Kids Rwanda is trying to change that narrative. Through the expertise of a trained agronomist, 45 students in upper primary school from the poorest families have the opportunity to learn about the importance and implementation of agricultural farming, as well as how local farming is connected with promoting health and wellbeing. Finally, Love the Kids Rwanda also runs a school meal feeding program to combat high levels of school dropout rates. Because kids who cannot afford food have to choose between paying school fees for uniforms and supplies versus feeding themselves, they often choose the latter. By providing meals at the school, these kids have the flexibility to focus on their education. In fact, through the agricultural education program, some of these kids are able to grow their own food to feed themselves and their families, as well as sell the extra food as payment for their school fees. Overall, these programs combat both malnutrition and educational accessibility through agricultural training.
The gender and community awareness program focuses on empowering women and strengthening community ties for women. In Rwanda, historically gender inequality has been a problem as families would send boys to school before girls when funds were limited. Additionally, girls have to work much harder to have the same opportunities as boys. However, our organization strives to change the narrative about vulnerabilities and empower women and girls. Girls who cannot go to school and are on the street are exposed to gender violence and have a higher risk of teen pregnancy. This program promotes a community wide discussion about homosexuality, sexual violence, gender equality, and other topics that are considered taboo in Rwandan culture. The program also includes a collective fund that is created by the mothers of children who participate in the organization and each woman contributes 500 RWF (0.5 USD) each week which later helps them to resolve issues. For example, in emergencies mothers can take a certain amount from the collective fund. This teaches them financial skills and the importance of having a strong support network. Promoting women’s empowerment and teaching them leadership skills and giving them the tools and skills to succeed contributes to the overall strength of the family unit, resulting in a more stable life for children. Through this program we also plan to create public campaigns to raise community awareness about relevant issues. There will be visits to primary and secondary schools where discussions will be conducted about problems affecting women and children in order to introduce them to community issues. Through community awareness we hope to put an end to stigma and discrimination whether it be based on gender, sexuality or other differences.