Imizi Girls Home
Helping Rwanda's most vulnerable girls
One of the misconceptions about Rwanda is that there are no girls living on the streets. This is easy to believe because it is very rare to come across a homeless girl. They are out there, but they are much less visible than boys are due to the dangerous environment they are struggling to survive in. They face abuse, physically, emotionally and sexually, and they are often ostracized from their families and communities. Many homeless girls turn to sex work as a means of survival, trading their bodies for food, shelter and money. Their exposure to abuse, manipulation and the darker side of society at such a young age can negatively affect the rest of their lives, and unfortunately in Rwanda there are very few places for these vulnerable girls to turn to for help.
We at the ROP recognized this need for many years, but being a small charity we lacked the resources to start a new program to help street girls. That changed in 2017 when ROP partnered with the Segal Family Foundation to begin our first girls program, the Imizi Girls Home.
This new pilot project includes the housing of 20 former street girls from the ages of 8 to 15 years, as well as the employment of two housemothers who play a key parental role to them. We have also employed a full time female social worker who has the important responsibilities of counseling the girls and providing them with workshops to teach them about gender equality, self-confidence and the value of their bodies.
The morals, values and policies that are the foundation of the Imizi Children’s Center have all been carried over to our new girls program. Just as with our boys we strive to provide an environment of safety, happiness and participation so that each and every child can grow to their potential. We also make an effort to rebuild each girl’s relationship with her family, slowly and carefully, with the goal of fostering positive links with relatives and a healthy home environment.