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.
Due to changes made in June 2020 to Rwandan law regarding the provision of housing for vulnerable children, we were forced to close the Imizi Girls Home and integrate our girls into their families, despite the circumstances that caused them to leave home. However, our committment to our girls did not change. We have worked hard to ease this transition, despite the challenges they face with their families. ROP Imizi is continuing to pay for their schooling, healthcare, and material needs so they can continue focusing on their education without interruption or hardship. In addition to this support, our team of social workers remains in constant contact with the girls, visiting their homes regularly to monitor their welfare intervening in any problems they may be having at home or at school.
Our hope is that the Rwandan government will recognize that child homelessness is still a problem in Rwanda and will allow us to provide housing for them once again, but for now we will continue to support vulnerable girls by working with their families and communities to encourage safe, healthy environments for them to live and learn.