By Michel Nkurunziza
Over 2,000 children with psychological problems caused by different backgrounds of bad situation will have been supported by 2021 under the new project run by SOS Children’s Villages International.
According to the clinical psychologist, Augustin Nziguheba, the project was designed after pilot exercise in experience mental health problems which revealed that an average of 65 per cent of children received by SOS Children’s Villages International could have psychological issues.
The children in need of support include those who are orphans, those from extremely poor families, those dumped by their mothers after birth and many others who lack access to different children’s rights and then affect their psychological status.
The Rwf500 million project dubbed ‘ Building mental health competencies for supporting vulnerable children and young people in Rwanda seeks to increase mental well-being of over 2,000 children aged between 10-18 years old and train health care professions and caregivers in SOS locations in Nyamagabe, Kigali,Gicumbi and Kayonza district by using narrative approach and group settings.
The approach is composed of conversational groups, game and activity groups, clinical supervision, community counselling etc.
“There are currently thousands vulnerable children supported by the organization including 103 inside the villages, 7064 who are in the community and 3,135 in schools as well as 866 in rehabilitationncenters.The project will have improved mental health of those with different psychological problems while going through many transitions such as reunification with families of origin or kinship care, placement in foster families as part of integration process,” he said.
A test we carried out on sampled children with mental health problems is that 71 per cent of children in psychological healing approaches showed improved mental health, said Serge Nyirinkwaya, the head of SOS training center adding that the project is in line with mental health policy developed by government.
Dr Simon Kanyandekwe, the Psychiatre at CHUK said that if those children are not supported, the mental health problems might worsen which then “ would affect their personal economic productivity and national development in general”.
According to psychologist Beata Mukarusanga, the project will closely work with National Children council to make sure reintegrated children in society by using inshuti z’umuryango (Friends of the Family), volunteers whose responsibilities include promoting child rights, protecting children from violence, abuse, and exploitation, mobilizing against early pregnancies and school drop outs as well as promoting equal rights of children with disabilities.
They also play role in protecting children from being separated from their families and will work on returning lost children to their families.
“This collaboration is needed because some children wonder themselves if they would not face the same issues if they returned to the places, families where they experienced the situation. So we need those people to follow up where those children are so that they do not fall back into psychological problems due to lack of care,” she said.
She added that there is need to identify those with such problems prevent the falling back
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