We have stayed at the Akagera Neighbors guesthouse, located next to Akagera National Park, several times during our trips to Rwanda. The owner is Jean Bosco who, together with his family, has started a programme called Akagera Kids, which now offers you the opportunity to sponsor children in partnership with the Close to Africa Foundation.
Read the Bosco's introduction:
„Az "It all started with a one-off voluntary act... In early 2022, a group of young people started to raise awareness in the area. The kids had been wandering around for a while, and most people who saw them were put off by their slick behaviour and scruffy appearance.
We took a different approach and gradually began to tame the children, offering them hygiene supplies and food. This is how we found out that the 8 children called themselves "Marines". The military connotation stems from their gang-like behaviour and the way they steal anything of value and then disappear into the wetlands most of the time immediately. Otherwise, although the members of the group were children between the ages of 7 and 11, they had a strictly uniform code of conduct and leadership structure.
We tried to reintegrate all the members of the group back into the family they came from, except for one who had no relatives. He was eventually adopted by the family of one of the group members.
n the 2022-2023 school year, the team, then called Akagera Kids, started to re-educate, with many challenges. The "marines" behaviour and bullying at school had to be gradually reduced, and the absence from school on market days during the first semester had a significant impact on results.
To address this problem, each child was assigned a dedicated teacher in school and expected to report on daily progress.
Since November 2022, every Sunday there has been a joint game and life skills counselling session, which concludes with a joint Sunday lunch. We later extended this to holidays to keep the children busy and together. In early 2023, we decided to involve the children's families and caregivers to take a holistic approach to the phenomenon. So we started a parenting programme with a craft and a goal-setting (SWAP) programme. We made some traditional handicrafts including rugs, beads and baskets (agaseke). As several people supported the idea and donated to Akagera Kids, we started thinking of setting up an organization.
That's how Akagera Good Neighbors was born on June 25, 2023, and later, on July 14, 2023, the Mayor of Kayonza District formalized it as a local NGO with a letter of cooperation."
Jean Bosco and his wife