Streets Ahead Childrens Centre Association, Rwamagana, Rwanda

A Rwandan NGO based in Eastern Province, Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association (SACCA) was founded in October 2003 to address the needs of street-dwelling children who couldn’t or wouldn’t fit any programme available to them.

From its beginnings when the founders gave shelter to children in their own home, the organisation has grown into three residential centres around which the work of the organisation is based.
 

 

 

SACCA’s work is also based upon its founding principles:

  • Do not differentiate between street children and other children.
  • Base SACCA programmes and solutions on input from the children. Use a flexible approach and involve the children in all decisions which will affect them.
  • Children must join a centre of their own accord. They must want to help themselves and they must want to be helped.
  • Children’s centres should simulate the family home, involving children in managing the household including cooking, cleaning, fetching water and cultivating their own land.
  • Education is the key to behavioural change, through core programmes, schooling or vocational training.
  • Involve the community at all levels, and involve local people in decision making where appropriate.

The organisation’s work involves five programmes:
 

Provision of on-going support to children within the residential centres - The three centres provide shelter and care to boys and girls who wish to leave the street - some children stay long term, others stay on a temporary basis waiting to be reintegrated with their families. Children work and study in return for their three daily meals. In addition, they are expected to help keep the centre clean and tidy.

Education -  SACCA looks to ensure that every child receives an education suitable to his or her temperament and ability. Those who are not too old and who wish to study formally are sent to primary school.

 

Reintegration programme - SACCA’s social workers assist children to return home and reintegrate in their families. Reintegration can be an option at various stages of involvement with SACCA. Some children settle into one of the care centres before reintegration is possible or attempted, others are accommodated temporarily or affiliated with the centres while social workers assess their family situations and help them return home. Those children who attend secondary school, which is generally boarding in Rwanda, are supported to board during term time and encouraged to return home during the holidays.

Independent living programme - SACCA’s independent living programme has enabled children to leave the centres and to re-enter the community as independent young adults. The programme has also been extremely successful in facilitating the process of independence for young mothers who lived in SACCA’s centres, allowing them to re-enter the community and to bring up their children in a ‘normal’ environment.

Community based prevention of separation projects - SACCA has pioneered 3 projects in rural communities aimed at addressing the root causes of children leaving home. SACCA worked within communities to establish local committees that are composed of elected community members and children, providing training to community members so that they might become community-based outreach workers.
 
Please see their website for more information.