Ishema Mu Muryango: Pride for the Family - Stories of Successful Reintegration in Rwanda

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Overview of Ishema Mu Muryango

Ishema Mu Muryango (‘Pride for the Family’ in Kinyarwanda) was a two-year program funded by USAID’s Displaced Children and Orphans Funds (DCOF). The program goal was to safely and sustainably reintegrate children living in institutions in two districts of Rwanda back into their families or communities, and prevent further institutionalization through family-based alternative care options that are suitable and sustainable.

The program was implemented by Global Communities working in close partnership with Hope and Homes for Children. Global Communities is well-known for its community-based development expertise, as well as its strong experience working in Rwanda. Home and Hope for Children is a recognized leader of deinstitutionalization programming worldwide and is the Rwandan government’s main partner in developing a national family-based care system. The different areas of expertise and the distinct approaches provided by each organization are the driving force behind the Ishema Mu Muryango (IMM) program’s successful outcomes.

The following report highlights stories of some children, youth and families who have been assisted under the IMM program. While each of their stories is unique, all highlight some common themes about institutionalization and child abandonment in Rwanda. All of the people featured in these stories are former residents of the Noel Orphanage, Rwanda’s oldest and largest orphanage. Located in Rubavu in northwestern Rwanda, the Noel Orphanage is now closed and all of its former residents have been successfully transitioned to family-based settings.

The IMM program works at multiple levels:

• With orphaned children to prepare them for life with their new families
• With immediate, extended and foster families to prepare for their new family member
• With professional social workers and psychologists to better support families taking in children and families at risk of separation
• With authorities at all levels of local government to help support the reintegration process and identify vulnerable families in need of services The major activities include:

1.- Preparation of children and families for reintegration
2.- Reintegration of children in healthy homes and schools
3.- Building resilience of families
4.- Alternative care and prevention
5.- Capacity building of professionals – social workers and psychologists