Background

Background

The Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association (SACCA) began operating in October 2003 as a local association deeply embedded into the communities, within which it works to help the numerous street children in Eastern province in areas that constituted former Kibungo Province. The Central Office is located in Kayonza, though the organization also operates in Kabarondo. During the last 11 years, SACCA has developed a realistic and successful method for assisting vulnerable youths within the context of poor rural areas in Rwanda. It works alongside community representatives, ordinary community members and police to develop realistic solutions to community problems. Its aim is to respond quickly and effectively to a wide range of social welfare problems, providing innovative community-based solutions in partnership with the community and its beneficiaries.

SACCA has developed and implemented a sophisticated incremental development programme for street children, which has a very high success rate. More than 1,600 of children have been re-integrated into their families wherever possible, others have stable jobs and the majority of the street boys living in the centers are enrolled in vocational training schemes, primary or secondary schools. The centres provide education, life skills, protection, individual support and counselling, HIV education, food, shelter, health care, recreational activities and have an emphasis on promoting and developing good relations with the community and existing family or extended family members.

The association, through its outreach programme endeavors to transfer technical management and operational skills to the community using its field work force. This ensures a strategy of linking support with community development. It also ensures strengthening community capacity to care for the re-integrated and guarantee prevention of unaccompanied children going to the streets.

SACCA has worked hard to tackle a wide range of social welfare problems that affect children within its area of operation. It has developed innovative community-based solutions with the full participation of its beneficiaries and community members. The association is striving to develop a comprehensive community-based welfare system that will in the future provide necessary support to vulnerable children and families over a large geographical area. This project focused on a participatory methodology with an incremental development plan for street children, with substantial elements of community participation, which includes formation of community action groups, with a great emphasis on child protection.

SACCA in coordination with district, Sector administration and the surrounding communities work with the children, families and community groups to prevent more children coming on the streets by encouraging those already living there to go back home where will be secure and more protected.

SACCA currently has two rehabilitation centres; one for the boys in Kabarondo and another one for the girls in Kayonza. Since its existence, SACCA’s assistance were addressed to the children in centres,re-integrated still under SACCA care or fully prepared for independent living now cares about 400 children in total.

In centres, SACCA offers accommodation, numeracy and literacy programs in addition to HIV awareness education, health and sanitation care to the boys and the vulnerable girls in centres and those in independent living program. Young children were sent to schools in primary, secondary and vocational trainings.

Outside if centres, SACCA offers support to vulnerable girls and young youth through income-generating projects and livelihood program. Where, 99 girls and boys were enrolled in vocational schools and now 109 young youth under livelihood program are supported short course (refresher course) to learn professional skills and supported to get jobs and how to run their own income.

A substantial achievement of these projects is that it has succeeded in helping street children (boys and girls.) to acquire skills to help them to reach and do jobs or make good products thus, some are self employed and others are still working in cooperatives.

In the struggle to reduce the rent expenses, the organisation began a construction strategy. Early 2008, a main hall for multipurpose activities was constructed but not completed. We are intending to complete it and equip it with facilities for use by SACCA or other community members for community functions. When complete, it will be rented and will generate income as SACCA revenue to supplement on the budget. In 2012, supported by WJR and Breakfast Club, SACCA bought boys centres in Kabarondo, and in early 2015 a wall was constructed around the SACCA main land in Kayonza so that will prepare future girls accommodation

Like other similar associations working on social issues, SACCA has representation on the Joint Action Forum of the district where it primarily operates (Kayonza). By maintaining close links to the communities with which it works, SACCA is also aware and able to work with and encourage local initiatives.

It is clear that SACCA’s programme is very much in line with the various Government Programmes, such as EDPRS, and vision 2020.  The association today provides support and services to 400 either in centres or in families. These services include: identification, rehabilitation, re-integration, prevention and advocacy and in each service, there are various support.