"When my mom lost her job, we had no clothes. I was 8 years old, so it became my job to sell metal scraps on the streets. I couldn't go to school anymore because I had to sell everyday." - Kayitare, a MindLeaps student and street child. MindLeaps runs a center for former street children in Rwanda. The NGO attracts children like Kayitare through dance classes and develops their cognitive skills to prepare them to enter school. Kayitare joined in 2015 and is now a top student at MindLeaps.
In Rwanda, a child must finish at least nine years of school to be eligible for official employment. Kayitare dropped out of school after fourth grade because his family didn't have enough money to pay school fees. There are six children in his family and only two go to school. Given that Kayitare is responsible for his family, his return to school is the only sustainable solution for both him and his siblings. Since dropping out, Kayitare has dreamed of going back to school.
Kayitare has many ambitions for his future, which is a huge change from how he viewed himself while living on the streets. "Then, people would just laugh at me." Now, "I want to finish school so that I can become a leader who builds peace and security in my country." We are raising money so that Kayitare can go to a boarding elementary school where he will be ensured a safe place to live and thrive. At school, he will have three meals per day (for the first time ever) and a chance to learn.
Kayitare has the burden of supporting his siblings, which will be possible if he receives a good education. From there, he can secure a job and change the life of his entire family. He will become a role model to the other street children at MindLeaps, demonstrating that change is possible with hard work and perseverance. Furthermore, this helps to change the entire stigma around street children in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.