The number of street children in Kigali is increasing as vulnerable households struggle to deal with financial pressures caused by impact of coronavirus pandemic.
The trend which started mid last year after the first lockdown, has now spiked as children from families affected by lose of income poor onto the streets to beg.
At Kisementi one of the rapidly growing places in Kigali Rwanda Today talk to some of the affected children.
One of them introduced himself as Iyamuremye Samuel 17. He was holding an oily envelope and dressed in a slightly ill-fitting t-shirt with Cincinnati written on the chest.
He says his home is in Bumbogo, a Kigali suburb, and has been on the street since March this year and all friends have been on the street longer.
Iyamuremye says he came to the street because their home had become hostile, that his alcoholic father had become more violent since he stopped working last year, and being the oldest child he faced the brunt of his violence.
“I was tired of the beatings, in a way I had started fending for myself even when I was still at home, I could do odd jobs for some little money, maybe they can now have enough to feed my three little isters” he said.
He dreams of one day also holding a nice camera phone and driving one of the cars he sees every day, but he says for now save for the cold at night and when it rains at night, he gets what to eat, but most importantly he no longer has constant fear of beatings at the hands of his father.
Nsabimana Nicoletta, the head of centre marembo, an organisation that rehabilitates and integrates street children into families, says they have observed a sharp rise in the number of street children since last year.
“We are integrating some children but the number of new ones coming to the street is surging, poverty at the household level is biting,” Her organisation has identified street children hotspots around the city, where they normally gather, for instance in sites like Gisozi, Kimironko Zindiro, Batsinda, around the special economic zone, and other parts of the city.
They have been reaching out to some of these street children and taking them through a two-month rehabilitation before integrating them into families, but it hasn’t worked on everyone.