Patron: The Rt. Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool.

Child-Headed Families

Rwanda has a lot of orphans.

Many orphans are cared for by members of their extended family. In towns and cities there are street children and some may be cared for through attendance at boarding school. Others live as families in what was their family house with one of them acting as family head.

Since Rwanda does not have a system of social security, orphans generally live in extreme poverty. Meeting with them is a distressing experience.

A pdf slide show about children in Rwanda is available. It has options on sound and text commentary and can be seen here.

Homes of Child Headed Families

It was a distressing visit. A small group of Trust members andHome of a child headed family supporters visited the home of Ruth and her sisters, Valentine and Clarisse. The children had been caring for themselves for several years but had no money. They lived on produce from the small plot of land that surrounded their home, and admitted to getting hungry as they waited for the next harvest.

The house was in a poor state of repair and the leaky roof did little to keep the rain out. At the request of the parish we agreed to pay for the replacement of Ruth's house and some 17 others in the parish, as well as repairing 5 others.

Ruth's almost complete homeNew houses have a similar construction to others in the area - we don't want the children to be different to their neighbours. The children help, with the design of their home, and may do things like making bricks. The picture of the almost completed home was taken on one of our occasional project review visits.

For those of us who live in developed countries the new houses may seem little better than the old, but the children are delighted with them. The gratitude they show to the people who provided their homes is very touching.

Other help for child headed families.

The children benefit from our alternative gifts. The catalogue gives some idea of what the children need, and we are happy for people to use the catalogue to send help to the children, even if they don't want to send a gift card.

We give people who travel to Rwanda with us advice that they should not give help to individuals or groups. In the case of child headed families our guests have been so touched by the plight of children that they have ignored our advice. The children have been given money to use as they wish.

The children had been organised into a cooperative by the parish and they invited people to see what they had done with the money they had been given. See the picture below.

Child headed families with their shopping.