JC Dragon’s Heart Europe is delighted to announce that they have partnered with the Rwandan Orphans Project (ROP). The ROP provide basic needs and education for about 100 of Rwanda’s most vulnerable and neglected children.
We at JC Dragon’s Heart Europe feel that by lending our support, we can help to make a real difference to the prospects, and ultimately, future lives, of the children.
Sean Jones, ROP volunteer says:
‘The children that this project helps include victims of the 1994 Genocide, children who have lost one or both parents to diseases like AIDS or malaria and children who have witnessed a parent being killed from domestic violence. We find these children struggling to survive in the streets of Kigali, washing in sewers, begging on busy streets and often abusing drugs to help alleviate the pangs of hunger.’
‘We [The Rwandan Orphans Project] offer them a place where they can have stability, safety, regular meals, clean clothes, access to medical treatment and, most importantly of all, education. Often the promise of going to school is what convinces a child to join the ROP. Our boys have told us that while living on the streets, they would see ‘normal’ children wearing school uniforms and carrying school books and walking with their parents, and they would know that they should be like those children, and wish that they could be too. The ROP allows them to have the opportunities that every child deserves and every boy at our centre is enrolled in school, many for the first time in their lives. While we can never replace their families, we do allow them to have hope for their futures by providing them with an education and giving them the support and stability they need to take advantage of it.’
‘The Rwandan Orphans Project Centre has an in house catch-up/primary school for those young students who have fallen behind in their studies while on the streets or, as is often the case, have never attended school at all. We also allow local children whose families are too poor to pay school fees to attend our school free of charge. For those of our boys who complete primary school, we fund their secondary education too, paying for tuition, materials and transportation. We even assist those who receive university scholarships by paying their registration and other fees for their first year.’
They hope someday to be able to offer our own university scholarship program, but for now this goal is out of their reach.
‘For students who started school too late and struggle academically, we offer to send them to vocational school to learn such skills as carpentry and mechanics. Despite the fact that we only house boys at the Centre due to a lack of space, we pay the school fees of about ten female students from poor families by selling quilts made by one of our staff members to visitors and tourists around Rwanda.’
‘The ROP is a small non-profit organization, supported by individual donors who each give small amounts on a monthly basis. Every month, we struggle to raise enough money to keep the project going and while we have a great vision for expanding our Centre to help even more children, including girls, currently we have barely enough funding to maintain our current operation. Our greatest expense is education, followed by food. Our long term goal is to raise enough money to purchase our own land and construct our own buildings designed specifically for our needs. In the short term, we aim to continue improving and expanding on our current programme in order to provide the greatest possible environment and opportunities to the vulnerable children of the ROP family.’
Little Emmanuel was so young when he took to the streets that he doesn’t even know where his home area is. Aged just five, he had ended up on the streets of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, as one of the city’s many street children.
Emmanuel was orphaned at around the age of four and was too young at the time to know how his parents died. He lived with an aunt for a few months after their deaths but says he was badly treated by her and they often didn’t have enough to eat, so at the tender age of five, he decided to take to the streets to fend for himself. Despite his early difficulties, Emmanuel is an exceptionally bright and capable boy. He ended up sleeping under trucks in an area of the city popular with international truck drivers, and consequently managed to learn Swahili from them. He told staff that he used to see children walking home from school and each afternoon would ask them what they had studied that day so that he could learn from them.
Emmanuel’s early interest in the world and yearning to learn as much as possible has held him in good stead. Since starting primary school for the first time when he joined the ROP last year, he has consistently been one of the highest achievers in his class.
Altogether, the ROP supports the education of about 160 children from inside and outside of their orphanage.
They believe that education is the key that opens the door of opportunity for these children, and will allow them to escape the cycle of poverty and give them a promising future.
Just a small donation from people such as yourself would go towards helping JC Dragon’s Heart Europe achieve this for these youngsters.
Like many children in Rwanda’s rural areas, Mugisha was born to a very poor family. His father – a survivor of the 1994 Genocide – was crippled for life. Driven to alcoholism, one day he killed Mugisha’s mother in a drunken rage while the young boy was in the house. Fearing for his life, Mugisha fled his home and found his way to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city. Soon after his father was arrested and given a sentence of 30 years in prison. Mugisha had no other family to turn to care for him.
Mugisha would survive by begging for money and sleeping in the small gaps between buildings at night. He would try to make money to buy food by selling small pieces of scrap wood he would scavenge from around the neighbourhood. Mugisha says he lived like this for six years, but because of his young age we have no way of knowing if this is accurate. Mugisha would beg every day at the shop of a local businessman. One day he snuck into his car and refused to come out, begging the man to take him to his home. He lived with the man for four months, but was not able to attend school because the man could not afford to pay his school fees. The man asked the director of the ROP if we could take him to our Centre so he could be properly cared for and be able to attend school.
That was in July 2010 and Mugisha has been at the Centre ever since. With his distinct voice and feisty personality, he quickly became popular with children and staff. Despite his young age, family history and the fact that he had to struggle on the streets for so long, Mugisha immediately showed the maturity and confidence of a young man several years older than he is. He has shown immense promise in school. In fact, in his very first term in primary school he earned the highest grades in his class.