The Nyabisindu Project began in the summer of 2018 after a number of children and young people aged between 4 and 20 were discovered sleeping among the reeds in the swamp area of Nyabisindu in Rwanda. Since then we have been working closely with our partners at Comfort Rwanda to provide food, clothing, health insurance, a safe place to sleep, education, emotional support and a family environment in which to grow and mature. In July this year, a group from Scotland visited the project and below, Anne Yarney writes of her impressions from the visit.
“Having been part of the team in 2018 who first went into the swamp at Nyabisindu, to take profiles of the children living there, to feed them and to clothe them, I was eager to revisit this project to see the kids again and find out how they were doing. When we arrived we spoke with Joselyn, the project mama. She says the children are developing well and able to access school and she thanked the sponsorship program for paying the school fees and supporting the project to grow.
“We heard from several of the kids, willing to share their stories of how life has been for them since joining the project. One 11 year boy told us how he used to steal food from buckets and he would jump on moving trucks to steal charcoal to sell. Now he attends school and is working hard and learning a little English. He is no longer stealing. His older brother who is now 16 explained how he used to drink “unimaginable alcoholic drinks”, he would steal scraps of food and was a street fighter, fighting all the time with the other kids. He went on to say that now he is different, he’s not the same person he was, he’s no longer interested in fighting. He nervously admitted that life is still hard for him and sometimes he sleeps on the street. He says he prays to God all the time, asking him to help him overcome his difficulties. He is attending school and works very hard. The oldest of the brothers in this family also told his story. He is now 18 and is part of the School Leavers’ Development Programme. He has been given a bike by the project and he is able to work in a shop, delivering potatoes on the back of his bike. He is hopeful now that he will begin to be able to support himself. A 13 year old boy told how he used to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and steal, he says he’s now trying to behave and do as he’s told but he bravely asked for us to forgive him as sometimes he slips back into his old ways. He says he is transforming, but not yet fully transformed.
“One of the really encouraging things was to meet quite a number of parents of these kids’ parents who have been reconciled with their children and who are now able to help care for their children back at home through the support of the sponsorship program. We helped hand out beans and rice to each family as well as some soap. Some of the children were also given new clothes.
“These kids have had such hard lives, many were living on the streets or in the swamp from a really young age. Old habits can be hard to break, it takes time to adjust but there are definitely signs of hope and many are making good progress. It was a joy and a privilege to be able to share with them, encourage them and pray for them.”