Currently Shelter Them supports 8 homes (fully supporting 2 boys homes, 1 girls home, 1 home with 3 boys and a baby, 1 family of children previously living on the street, and 1 family moved out of the slums, as well as 2 other homes with 2 individual children in need).
Over the next few years, our plans include developing on land in Bugesera District donated to Shelter Them by the Rwandan government. The planned development will extend beyond shelter, including educational and community facilities for those in need currently residing in the area. For more details on our current homes, see below.
In 2012, the Shelter Them team from Canada visited Rwanda with a wonderful group of volunteers. During our visit, we hosted a fundraiser and gave away four donated wheelchairs to families in need. The next day we met one of these children at their home, where what we saw moved us to tears. Olivia, a little disabled girl, was scootching around the mud on her back side because the wheelchair we had given was unusable in the slum where she lived.
The home where Olivia lived with her family was a four square meter shack where all five of them lived, slept and cooked. Seeing these tragic living conditions, our team was brought to tears, including our team in Rwanda, who see poverty in their communities every day. It was very clear why this little girl crossed our path, and following the visit, the team worked together focused on fundraising and finding a way to bring this beautiful family out of the destitute life and into a new home for Olivia and her sisters. This experience and the difference that Shelter Them could provide in a child's life is what inspired the beginning of the Shelter Them Sponsorship Program.
Since 2006, Shelter Them has been gaining respect from local authorities in Kigali, Rwanda. This home is filled with children brought to us by the government because of the good reputation Shelter Them has developed over the past 10 years. In November 2014, Mugisha, a young boy who was found abandoned in a local supermarket, had been brought to Shelter Them. At the time, there was not enough funds to support a sixth home, but because of our generous staff, volunteers and supporters in Rwanda, a new home was opened and Mugisha was saved from a life of living on the streets. The house now has 4 children and a mother as the caregiver, giving the children a life surrounded by family.
Mugisha was abandoned at the local market near when a woman found him at 6 pm and took him to Police who in turn handed him over to the local authority in charge of social affairs. Shelter Them was asked to take care of this child but we had not yet started the sixth home. So Bright, a Shelter Them staffer accepted this child to care for till the new home was set up. Much discussion was started about the new home, its need and the funds that were not yet ready. So in faith the 6th home was opened. Mugisha has the honour of having this home named after him.
The mother of this little boy was housed by her friend then after she departed without notice leaving her 2 months old baby. After some days, the friend realized that the mother would not return and that Gervais had been abandoned. She did the best she could to raise him for two years till her money dried up. She dropped of the child to local authorities and asked if they could find a good Samaritan to care of him. This good Samaritan did the best she could till a stable home would be found. After a month Shelter Them was asked to accept and care for him. He is now part of a great loving family
Patrick is the only son of Uwantege Veneranda, the mother of this home. After the genocide Uwantege was the only survivor of 12 siblings and her entire family were murdered. Rugema’s mother became pregnant at an early age without proper marriage arrangement because of the situation she was living in. Rugema last saw his father at the age of 5. According to his mother, Rugema’s father left Rwanda, but doesn’t know his whereabouts. This small family stuck together through very hard times until they joined at Shelter Them.
Days after giving birth to this baby girl, the mother ran away from the hospital. An unsuccessful search was made to find Bayisenge's mother, who suffers from mental illness. Shelter Them was soon contacted by local authorities and asked us to take this baby to join the Mugisha Home. We gave her the name Sandrine and brought her to the hospital for a checkup where she was declared a healthy baby. Now she can grow in a stable family and be cared for the way a child needs.
Shelter Them in Rwanda has made such a positive impression on Kigali that this house is our first where the Children were brought to us by the community. Bryan's Home started in 2012 and has filled up quickly. Their new mother Mariam is so happy and is in love with her new children. Her young boys are going to be Rwanda's future.
At two months old, young Bryan was left at the gate of someone’s home in Kigali. Local authorities were contacted and intervened. Shelter Them was asked to take over and provide this baby with a home. This is a sad story but also a testament to Shelter Them's work and the respect we have in the local community with people and government. Bryan is now happy and healthy. His new mother Mariam says "he is so attached to me there is no way I could ever say that someone else is his mother".
After our 2012 Gala in Rwanda, a couple heading home at around one in the morning saw two boys sitting on the curb in the rain. After talking with them about how they met on the street and why they were alone, this loving couple took the boys to their home to protect them. They fed them, cleaned them up and then called our Shelter Them team to help. Patrick now lives with his new family in Bryans Home and is proudly going to school.
Irenee was abused and tortured by his father on a regular basis, and his mother has been missing for years. This child’s father is now in prison for some serious crimes. Irenee was found on the streets around midnight by a lady who took him home to protect him. After realizing that she could not care for him properly she contacted the government who introduced us to this future Rwandan leader. He now has a safe home where he is loved.
Filbert and Zephelin
Filbert and Zephelin were born in 2006 and 2004. Their mother lost her husband in 1994 during the genocide leaving her with two children. As time went on she later gave birth to these boys with another man and died a few years later. The new father brought the boys home to his family but the children were rejected by his new wife. A relative was found for them to live with but they were so poor even providing for themselves was a problem. Shelter Them was contacted and they joined Bryan and Mariam in a new loving home.
What a beautiful family! This home belongs to a family of six. Growing up in extreme poverty was how five of these children their lives before Shelter Them helped in 2009. Their Father abondoned the family when their mother was pregnant with their sixth child. Nothing was left for the family to eat or survive on, but their mother tried as she kept her children together. On the way to the hospital in much pain, to give birth to Joshua, she asked a neighbour to watch over her children in case she did not make it. Unfortunately that is exactly what happened, after giving birth to Joshua she passed away.
That neighbour contacted Shelter Them and told them the story of these children. Immediately we responded and raised the funds to open our third home. Since 2009, they have grown up and accepted Clarisse as their new mother. Clarisse has been overjoyed with these children and has bonded with them. While speaking with her she has mentioned how she feels they have given her life a satisfaction and joy.
Our Girls Home
Our girls home consists of four girls and one mother living together as a family. The difference this life has been for them is night and day. In the past they used to hide at night from the weather and from people. Now they go to school, have meals Donata, their mother has made and spend time with their new sisters. We all know what trouble awaits young girls on the streets and we thank God that we were able to provide this home for them
It is hard for us to believe the life these boys have lived. Imagine losing your family and being left on the street as a little child. All the dreams and hopes they once had were crushed with little hope for the future. But we thank God that we were able to help. Shelter Them has provided these boys with a totally new life. Instead of dreaming about staying dry during the rainy season, they now can dream about one day owning their own home. We have given them a chance to enjoy their youth and to learn what life can be like when given love and a chance at a great future.