7 May 2010

Rwanda: Child Welfare is Everyone's Responsibility


This newspaper, yesterday, reported the tragic story of a five-month old infant who was dumped in a pit latrine at the HAGURUKA offices in Kisementi, Remera by his mother. Thankfully, the child was rescued and taken to Kibagabaga hospital where he is now recuperating. His mother, however, was arrested and will be charged for attempted murder.

She allegedly committed the crime out of desperation because the father refused to support the child, despite HAGURUKA's involvement.

Children's welfare is an issue that the Government of Rwanda has obviously made a priority. Issues of child nutrition, childhood disease, education and child protection are on the top of the to-do list of Ministries, as varied as Health, Agriculture, Education and Gender and Family promotion.

However, these government departments can only go so far. While these various institutions make the policies that are meant to address the plight of the Rwandan child, there must be better enforcement of child welfare legislation and policy. For example, while the father, in this case, was legally obliged to support the child, there wasn't any official succour.

The mother was forced to seek the assistance of a non-governmental organisation. There should have been a legal framework, to force the father to provide support for the child.

Failure to comply, would have necessitated the involvement of Police, and this would have averted the tragedy. More efforts must be made by all stakeholders to protect children.

This, however, isn't simply a matter of government intervention alone. The local community, and its leadership, should be able to intervene. It is everyone's responsibility.

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