One of the biggest challenges that many of the children on the Street Kids Rescue Projects in Rwanda face when they join the projects, starting a new life and leaving the streets behind, is breaking free from the habits and ties that they formed when they had nowhere to live but on the dumps or in the sewers or hiding in sheds or wherever they could find a modicum of shelter. Through various circumstances, including family deaths, poverty or abuse at home, children from a very young age must find a way to survive street life with no one to support, protect or nurture them. Many of them, due to the trauma and fear they must face on a daily basis, turn to drugs to numb the pain and fear, helping them sleep and find some rest. This has led to an endemic problem of drug addiction among street children in Rwanda. The team at Comfort Rwanda are working incredibly hard with these young people to help them find a life free from drug addiction and full of hope and opportunity.
Sifa* is one of those children that ended up homeless following the separation of her parents, who both suffered from alcohol addiction, which led to her being abandoned and abused. Sifa attended Primary School for only one week before dropping out completely, and started a life of survival in the swamps of Nyabisindu. At only seven years old, a life with an education, regular meals and steady health care was a far-off dream until she came onto the Street Kids Rescue Project at Nyabisindu. She began being sponsored by Emma and her life changed forever.
Within a matter of months, Sifa was back attending school and developed a love for languages, and especially studying Kinyarwandan. She received good marks and her teachers worked with her as she adjusted to learning how to manage her time and not be late to school! She made friends whom she could play skipping with and started playing football which she developed a passion for. Her medical insurance was covered which provided her with access to health care and medication when she needed it. Most of all Sifa found the love and care that she so desperately needed, and in a nurturing, caring environment she started to dream big, doing well in school and learning English. She was placed in a foster family that loves her and enjoyed regular visits from the teams that Comfort International brought over, including from her much beloved sponsor, Emma!
Sifa found it difficult though, that when she went to school or walked through the streets, she would see her old peers, still in the cycle of drug addiction and old friends that encouraged her to join them in taking drugs. She found herself slipping back into old ways and the pull of the drugs which had soothed her in her past was often too much. However, the project team and her new friends worked with her so that these episodes became less and less, and Sifa recently told us that she had gone three months without taking drugs for the first time that she could remember. This is a phenomenal breakthrough, and Sifa’s teachers, foster family, and the project leaders confirmed that she has been free from drugs for all this time. She is not the only one struggling with this temptation, but there are many who are on this journey of freedom from drug addiction – a trap which ensnares and curtails the opportunities of young people as they find themselves financially, physically and mentally enslaved to their addiction. There are many ways that we can support this – through praying for these young people, supporting them via sponsorship, and by continuing to visit them and provide them with encouragement and joy at being together.
Comfort International and Comfort Rwanda are working together to build the Comfort Transformation Centre (CTC), which will be a hub for the Comfort Rwanda projects, and a centre of security and transformation for these young people, particularly for those who are fighting against drug addiction. Instead of living in the same area and among the same people who took advantage of them while they were vulnerable and in need, they will be supported, cared for, nourished and championed. The CTC is in the process of being built, and many of the ex-street children who have had their lives turned around are involved in helping with the construction work.
Sifa’s life has transformed, thanks to the amazing team at Comfort Rwanda, the faithful giving of her sponsor Emma, and the transformative power of God in her life. If you would like to help change a life like Sifa’s you can get in touch with us about sponsoring an ex-street child or make a donation to the Comfort Transformation Centre today.
a little can change a life
*name changed to protect identity