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Herzliches Dankeschön von Hope & Homes for Children
I just wanted to write and say a huge thank you for your generous donation.
I returned at the weekend from Rwanda, where I was visiting some of our programmes. I hope you don’t mind me telling you a little of what I saw.
I first travelled to Rwanda just over a year ago, when I visited the misleadingly named Home of Hope. An orphanage based in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Although the Nuns who ran it were obviously trying their best, there simply were not enough of them to look after the 80 or so babies, children and young adults who struggled to survive within its walls. The children craved attention from anyone that entered the compound. Two children latched on to me within seconds, having to be physically detached as I left (the look of resigned helplessness they gave me as I left still haunts me). The neglect also showed itself in other ways, children were smaller than those of the same age outside the orphanages, they struggled to learn at the same rate and many showed signs of deafness - a result of repeated inner ear infections caused by babies being fed through feeding bottles flat on their back in their cots.
Perhaps the most distressing moment was seeing the plight of disabled children, kept behind steel bars in the corner of the yard and all but ignored by staff and visitors alike. Amongst those children was Steve, a little year boy with severe learning difficulties. Despite recently turning six, Steve could not feed himself, was incontinent and completely unable to communicate with the outside world. He had been written off by those caring for him, so no-one had ever bothered to wean him on to solid food, give him the physiotherapy he needed in order to walk or to teach him to express his thoughts and desires. He was alone and isolated.
Fast forward 12months and things are very different. Just two children remain in Home of Hope, both of which will leave in the next few weeks. All the other children have been re-settled with their families, found new families or have been supported to live independently. A year might sound a long time, but it takes time to trace children’s families (once they are in an orphanage, families are often banned from visiting their children and can quickly lose touch) and to ensure the right support is in place to ensure both children and families can flourish once the child returns.
Steve was placed with a foster family at the beginning of May, the transformation has been incredible. His new parents, with the support of local physiotherapists, are teaching him to walk. They have even built two wooden rails for him to practise with, which he does every day. He now eats solid food, just like his brothers and sister and has learnt to communicate through signs and simple pointing. It turns out he understood nearly everything people were saying to him all along, he was just trapped because no-one had taught him how to respond. Most of all he loves music, whenever he hears it he smiles and dances - his siblings sing and dance with him every day. For the first time in his life he is loved and happy.
Rwanda is at the forefront of reforming child protection in Africa. The Rwandan Government have committed to closing down all orphanages over the next few years and ensuring every child is placed in a loving family. Hope and Homes for Children is currently working alongside the Government to close 15 orphanages. When they are done, we will move on to the next 15 until every last one has been closed for good.
Without you and your support this simply wouldn’t be possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Head of Major Partnerships and Head of Brand
Hope and Homes for Children
East Clyffe, Salisbury
Wiltshire, SP3 4LZ
Tel: 07467 940866
Hope and Homes for Children is an international charity working to ensure that all children have the chance to grow up in the love of a family. We are leading experts in closing children’s institutions and reforming childcare systems. Learn more about how you can support our work atwww.hopeandhomes.org