Presentation of the Socio-Educational Dimension

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Objective: self-reliance

The primary goal of the socio-educational dimension is lasting and peace-promoting reintegration for children. Lasting integration is encouraged by activities that teach and enable the children to be independent. The idea is to break the pattern of dependency and replace it with the desire to be self-reliant.

It is the reintegrated children themselves who promote peace. The idea is that they spread the message upwards. Every child represents a “mini” Maison Shalom. The children become ambassadors for the ideals of tolerance and respect within their own families and within their communities and provinces.

The results are tangible. Having reintegrated the children, who grew into adults, into their communities, Maison Shalom has been able to develop a network of people aware of children’s rights and, most importantly, able to act responsibly towards them, to provide them with protection and to support their education – for the common good.

Context

Since Maison Shalom was established on 24 October 1993, it has cared for over 20,000 children for short and long periods. During that time, Maison Shalom has carefully avoided making the children dependent on the reception centre, starting the process of tracing the families and subsequent reintegration as soon as the children arrive. Over the years, the reception centres have gradually been replaced by longer-term community structures.

Today, the needy children supported by Maison Shalom continue to live in their environment. Their welfare is monitored by more permanent community structures (home visitors, parent-teacher associations, child protection committees and peer educators) that ensure the continuity of Maison Shalom’s activities.

Parent-teacher associations have been created in seven communes in Ruyigi province. Their mission is to safeguard the right to education for all. They focus in particular on providing support for orphans and other vulnerable children.

The home visitors are unpaid volunteers who have demonstrated their commitment to serving others and defending the cause of children. They identify the children’s priority needs and propose tangible measures to help them. In all, 250 home visitors or community relays have been appointed and are in charge of covering the 179 hills of Ruyigi province.

The child protection committees are chosen, one for each hill, to identify, document, accompany and provide legal assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children whose rights have been violated. The peer educators, for their part, are young heads of household who serve as role models for younger children.