Imagine your childhood for a moment; the first time you fell
off your bike and your Dad picked you up and brushed you off again, providing
you with the confidence to try again and again. When you fell ill and your Mum would
nurse you back to health, showing you the love and affection that only a mother
can. Or when you would wake up terrified in the middle of the night that the Boogeyman
was coming for you, and within a split second, both your parents would be there
reassuring you that everything would be all right. We are the fortunate ones
who have received the love, affection, care, and safety that only our parents
Unfortunately, for some of the children in Gisenyi, Rwanda they will never know these feelings. These children are abandoned by their parents because they have chronic illnesses, cannot afford to support the child, or because the children are simply unwanted. These children take to the streets to fend for themselves, becoming vulnerable to street gangs recruiting them to steal and abuse. This is where the Rubavu Transit Centre steps in, taking the children off the street and placing them into temporary care until a new home can be found.
The facilities at the centre are basic; and as a result of a lack of funding, have fallen into disrepair. The children do not have an area to wash themselves which is hygienic and private. They often choose to wash themselves in the dirt near the sewage sump to avoid being seen from the nearby road. During the wet season, the children are exposed to the elements as the tin roof covering the wash area is riddled with large gaping holes. Secondary to this, the children use squat toilets which proves unhygienic as a result of the lack of footwear, and the moist conditions facilitating the spread of disease. Currently these toilets are also prone to blockage forcing the children to precariously squat over the edge of the sump in order to relieve themselves while avoiding slipping in.
The washing area at the Rubavu Transit Centre, which also serves as the laundry and kitchen sink.
One of the large holes which riddles the tin roof covering the wash area.
The kitchen has also fallen into disrepair. The concrete sinks are clogged with dirty water. The floor is uneven and covered with dirt. Rats are ever present as evident by the numerous rat droppings in the food preparation and service areas. There is only one wood-fired grill, the smoke of which becomes trapped within the small room, choking the air as the children cook their daily meals. Plates and cooking utensils are rinsed and not washed, at the only working basin at the Centre. This is the same basin the children drink and collect their bath water from. These conditions again help facilitate the spread of preventable disease amongst the children.
The kitchen facility is unsanitary due to a lack of cleaning and food storage facilities. Additionally the lack of effective ventilation is hazardous to the health of the children.
The lack of clean drinking water is also a substantial part of this issue. The tap water in Rwanda is not fit for human consumption unless it is boiled. However, due to the current hygiene standards of the kitchen, the water is not treated properly. The children do not know any different, however, consuming water directly from the tap, resulting in numerous stomach bugs and bacterial infections. These infections are easily treatable with early medical intervention. Unfortunately, this is an essential service the centre does not have the funds for, leading to the spread of disease.
The spread of disease is clearly troubling. The bigger concern, however, is that most of these children lack health insurance which is required to seek medical treatment in Rwanda. As the centre does not have the funds to pay for health insurance for each child, it approaches the children’s illness on a case by case basis. This leads to lengthy delays in seeking treatment as the bureaucratic process takes place, allowing time for the illness to progress further. Despite all of this, there is still the potential that the funds may not even be granted to the child depending on how “serious” the illness is considered.
Finally, there is a serious need for clothing. Almost all the children possess only one set of clothes which is what they were wearing when they were found on the street. Some children have pants which are crotchless through wear and tear, thus exposing themselves when sitting down or bending over. These clothes often act as towels after washing, as these children use their shorts or shirts to dry down during the colder mornings. Most children lack shoes, or possess shoes which are ill-fitting or worn down to the point they are hardly of any use at all. This is one urgent area of need as the children’s play area is a dirt patch riddled with sharp volcanic rocks, which they often cut their feet on. Clearly, this can lead to infection which is made even more problematic with the lack of health insuranc
Some of the children improvise and use their bed sheets as robes when their only set of clothes finally give out.
The children's play area is merely a dirt patch riddled with sharp volcanic rocks. Due to the lack of footwear they end up with cuts on their feet which are susceptible to infection in the unsanitary conditions.
However, all is not lost, and we have a plan to improve not only the living conditions of these children, but their health and well being. We are aiming to build a new bathroom and toilet block by renovating the existing facilities. This will include enclosing the area, making it usable all year around. Additionally, we will build eight shower blocks and install a set of six western toilets and wash basins. This will, for the first time, provide the children with a private area to wash. They will not be exposed to the weather and sanitary toilet conditions will assist in preventing the spread of disease. Finally, wash basins will allow them to clean their teeth and learn to wash their hands.
We plan to re-furbish the kitchen to make it more hygienic and safer to use. This will involve paving the floor to prevent mishaps. We will also install stainless steel tubs. They will be used to wash all of the kitchen utensils and cookware, which will allow, for the first time, the separation of the personal and kitchen wash areas. We will create shelving which will be used for food preparation, storage, and service, helping to prevent the contamination of food with rat droppings. We will refurbish the cooking area and install new ventilation measures to ensure the area is not blanketed in soot and smoke.
Finally, we are hoping to set up funds to ensure that each new child can receive health insurance and clean water for a year, as well as a new set of clothes upon arrival. These measures will help to ensure each child can remain healthy and active, while guaranteeing they will be able to seek timely medical treatment in the event they become ill, rather than suffer while waiting and hoping for treatment.
This is the part where I ask for your generosity to help us make a difference. We are aiming to raise $22,000 USD to complete all projects.
- $15,400 USD to refurbish and renovate both the kitchen and bathroom/toilet facilities.
- $2,800 AUD to provide clothing and hygiene packs (shirts, shorts, shoes, wash cloth, soap, and a toothbrush).
- $1,900 USD to start a fund to provide health insurance and medication costs for the children.
- $1,900 USD for the clean water fund.
If you donate;
- $20 USD ($30AUD)- YOU will provide one child with a new set of clothes.
- $35 USD ($50 AUD) – YOU will provide health insurance for 8 children for one year.
- $55 USD ($75 AUD)– YOU will provide hygiene, wash, and dental materials to one child for one year.
- $70 USD ($100 AUD) – YOU will provide 10 children with treatment for Malaria.
- $175 USD ($250 AUD) – YOU will provide clean drinking water for one year.
Please help us make a difference in the lives of these
children. Any donations are most welcome.
Additionally, please assist us by sharing this webpage with your
friends, family and colleagues. Together, we will make a lasting difference.
Please note: The campaign is running in USD as the linked PayPal account is in USD. Please ensure you select a donation amount which is equivalent to the AUD amount you would like to donate. You can find this out by dividing the AUD amount by approximately 0.7.