Raising Rabbits Provides Life Long Lessons
In many places, attending school is a privilege that must be paid for out of pocket. Some children face the difficult reality that their families or caregivers do not have the means to send them to school. For children living on the streets, the opportunity to obtain an education can seem impossible, but one community in Rwanda decided to change this through a rabbit-raising program. The program raised enough funds to send 54 children to school, but the life lessons it served proved to be an even greater achievement. Association Benimpuhwe Centre Familial Mu Rugo is located in an area of Rwanda where many children do not attend school because of a lack of funds. In an effort to cover school costs for children who would otherwise not be able to, this grassroots organization created a small rabbit-rearing project. The profits gained from the project were used to pay school fees, uniforms, hygienic materials, health insurance, tutoring and on-going counseling for children who were, at the time, living on the street.
One child in particular, Clarisse, who was nine years old at the time, had never been able to attend school before. She and her mother lived on the street, and her father was not involved with her or her family. Through the program, Clarisse was enrolled in accelerated classes and counseling to help her catch up to her classmates. After only one year, she was able to integrate into a fourth year primary class, socialize with other classmates
, and received good grades.
The rabbit-raising project proved to be extremely successful not only with Clarisse, but with many other children who were stuck
in a similar situation. In addition to raising funds, the program also taught children valuable life lessons through the hands-on experience of raising the rabbits. The children realized the great responsibility of caring for and feeding the rabbits and learned about costs, income and the benefits of a savings plan. Through the success of the program, children were now able to attend and complete school and have a chance to socialize with other children their age. For children living on the street and not accustomed to a classroom setting, making friends with other school children can prove to be a very difficult task. The program helped the children to gain confidence and to form a new community of peers while at the same time providing them with useful tools and life skills for their futures.
Association Benimpuhwe stated, ”With patience, when children are rehabilitated, results can be very rewarding. In 2007, we started with 54 children who were out of school and the majority of them living on the streets. Today these children are like other children, with a smile on their faces, they have hope and courage.” Through Firelight Foundation’s support, they have been able to expand the program to now serve 70 children.
In the case of Association Benimpuhwe, what started out as one solution to a problem turned into an entire vehicle for community transformation. Communities such as this one are a shining example of how one community’s problems can be turned into a multitude of solutions that brighten children’s futures.