After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, many private orphanages were set up to care for the 400,000 orphans. Many of these are no longer able to serve the needs of children, so there has been a need for sensitively-run centres to support children. Set up in 2008, the Imizi Children’s Centre in Rwanda's Eastern Province, approximately one hour from Kigali, is a carefully monitored and well-run transition centre for orphans. It also runs a primary school for 120 children, as well as supporting other children in the community, and has set up a community centre to support struggling families.

While Rwanda has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies just under half the population, especially those in rural areas, live below the poverty line. Today there are about 3,000 orphans as many families give up their children believing they are too poor to look after them, sometimes leaving them to fend on the streets. Even problems like having difficulty with breastfeeding can see children left in an orphanage.

The Imizi Children’s Centre takes in homeless or street children, providing them with housing, clothing, food, health care, education and many other needs, while it searches for their families. It also runs a free primary school for a further 120 boys and girls from poor families in the local community, and supports 50 children, who are living with their families, by paying for tuition, school supplies and transportation costs. They are particularly keen to help girls, who were not expected to be educated, to flourish.

It is offers vocational training and a community center that provides social support to struggling families. Families are offered counselling; skills training and social and other support.

Many of the children have gone on to great success. Vincent, who was one of the first children it welcomed in 2008, graduated from high school in 2012, and received a scholarship to university. He completed his Bachelor's degree in 2015, and is now finishing his Master’s Degree in Education. He is also engaged to be married.

With a small donation to our Back to School Appeal, you can help children like Vincent in Rwanda and other countries get ready for the next school term.