APP is proud to have the opportunity to publish an interview with Jean Claude Muhire, Rwandan Leader of the year in 2016 and the founder of Love the Kids Foundation.
APP: Could you please introduce yourself and the organization you work in?
Jean Claude: Yes! I am a Rwandan social enabler and I have a strong passion for children’s education, peace-building and advocacy. I am an awarded young leader best known for story-writing, filmmaking, peer education, and humanitarian assistance. I am a published author. I lead a team of young committed people serving at ‘Love the Kids Foundation’, a growing charity organization working for the betterment of the vulnerable, poor, marginalized, deserted, and abandoned children in the community.
APP: One of your first steps to show the difficulties the abandoned children have was the movie LIZA that was produced and scrip-written by you. How was the movie received? And what effect does it have on society?
Jean Claude: The movie was received as a reminder of the kind world that we are living in today and what could be done to reduce stigma and violence which are happening in many communities. Abandonment and orphanism are the very tough issues that may push young women and girls on the struggle. LIZA shares the story of a pretty young girl who was raped by her uncle at home from an orphanage. This is shameful and meaningful. I wrote the script of LIZA to spread a word to fight against sexual violence. I produced LIZA to showcase the situation of some children who are not lucky of living with their biological parents. My movie is a quite a motivation to many societies and its effects are marked by the positive and supportive feedback from various individuals, companies, and agencies and other bodies being both private and governmental entities which really appreciated LIZA’s content. Additionally, social medias served much to display the positive impacts that the community gained from my initiative as the writer and producer of LIZA film.
APP: How was born the idea to set up Love the Kids Foundation (LKF)? Do you get any governmental/international support?
Jean Claude: I was a devoted volunteer when I was serving at Kimisagara Orphanage. I can mention that I have spent a lot of time at the center which was created since 1997 to support so many children who have experienced the effects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. I was there assisting the founder to care for orphans, street children, and poor children. Although, this was not an easy task. For every single day that I met children in need, I had to learn more about their stories as well as life of young people who are not fully equipped like those having families which support them in many ways. All of this has installed in me the culture of volunteerism and humanitarianism. Afterwards, there was a law to close all orphanages for children’s reintegration in local families. Then, all children of Kimisagara were sent in foster care and later on, I had nothing to do with the founder. Few months later and because of my little experience, I had an idea to run an NGO to continue to support children in need. I shared the idea with some of my friends and they were pleased. Then we all pledged to create ‘Love the Kids Foundation (LKF)’. That’s how it was born. Then we passed through many steps and we made it well. Currently, we work with local authorities from different levels and all we have received from them is collaboration and guidance.
APP: What projects/activities does LKF organize? How far do you succeed in supporting children in need? What are your main achievement and disappointments for the moment? What is next for you?
Jean Claude: Love the Kids Foundation organizes activities on children’s education for development as well as on women’s empowerment. LKF supports children and their parents and guardians helping both of them to leave poor living conditions through improving their standards of living. By supporting children in need through educating them and empowering their families, we see ourselves succeeding with helping them to access and enjoy their children’s rights specifically right to education, right to a safe family, and right to socio-cultural and economic development. We have had some interesting achievements like: rehabilitation and support of children we took from the streets, sending some children to schools and pay for education costs, formation of peer group of our children’s parents and guardians, participation to organized events, and so on. Our biggest challenge for the moment is the limited capacity for raising funds for the betterment of our beneficiaries and the next step for us is to continue work on our planned activities and to try to look for more partnerships and sponsorships.
APP: Which dreams of the children LKF curated have been already realized? What was one of the most touching/remarkable experiences that you had during your work in the organization?
Jean Claude: Access to quality education was a basic need and now it is provided for those we support. Typical examples are sponsored children we took at the streets. Additionally, the formation of peer groups for parents and guardians of our children was a good step to help them sit together for mutual discussions to further create friendship amongst themselves and partnership with the staff and volunteer team members or supporters of Love the Kids Foundation. All of these works have helped me personally to have an experience on the causes of abandonment and poverty and social inequality.
APP: How does the channel between the organization and children work? Does a child come with the request, or does LKF do a special investigation?
Jean Claude: We have a weekly schedule for visiting and meeting all supported children and their parents and guardians. Love the Kids Foundation has long selected children to support and this has required a lot of criteria. Then the following step was to work collaboratively with selected children and their parents and guardians. We do not make special investigations.
APP: You have many interesting programmes for children, how does the foundation attract the financial help for its realization? Do you get more help from the government, various organizations or individual people?
Jean Claude: Access to financial support is a challenging issue for many growing not-for-profit organizations like ours. LKF is a voluntary organization now trying to further increase its ability of having sufficient funds to assist its beneficiaries. To achieve this, LKF staff team members and volunteers use their skills to make small and low-budget projects to further attract donors or partners who can support us it soon. Interestingly, Love the Kids Foundation receives the support from people with skills and commitment, from the authorities governing local municipalities and from few partner organizations.
APP: Do you have any special programmes to tackle psychological problems of children who experienced/ing hardships?
Jean Claude: Yes. We provide medical and emotional support and we have a special team of medical students that volunteer to support children who have psychological problems. We also have a project which is called “Rehabilitate and support children in need” – where we pay visits to children scattered at the streets, listen to their life stories, rehabilitate them and pledge to support them in their homes. Sometimes we can meet street children living with mental illnesses and we support them.
APP: What are the policies implemented by the Rwandan government toward vulnerable children you are in favor, and which policies you as a founder of LKF are against?
Jean Claude: The Government of Rwanda initiated so many programmes dedicated to promoting the well-being of all children and surely there are strategies which have been planned for further implementation. For example there is an ongoing programme called ‘Tubarere mu Miryango’ which is designed to encouraging all citizens to raise children in local families. I think that this programme has been planned because the policy is to assist children find safe families to care for them. I am not against any government policy. I am only seeing myself as a decision-maker behind the works of ‘Love the Kids Foundation’ now working to support a limited and identified number of children from various families who really need a help for them to live a safe and healthy life.
APP: What message would your organization like to spread across Rwanda? What positive changes do you hope to bring in through your organisation?
Jean Claude: Love the Kids Foundation would like to take a message of serving voluntarily to advocate for a social positive change. And to me, positive change is all about people’s life improvement for good and better. Therefore, and as Love the Kids Foundation, we hope to transform lives by providing humanitarian assistance to Rwanda children and adults in need.
APP: What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far as an activist?
Jean Claude: I learned not to be selfish. As an activist, I also learned to share my skills to ensure change happen. I have seen in me some potentials which could be helpful to others. I moved from volunteerism to storytelling and filmmaking. I also founded a charity organization. I received significant awards and honors but I have achieved nothing expect motivation and inspiration. I learned to be creative and serve for social good.
APP: How can our readers get involved in the various programs you offer? and how can we (African Politics and Policy) be helpful to you?
Jean Claude: All your readers need is to be in touch with us and this could only require a strong communication message for further information and guidance. I have a hope that APP Readers who may feel interested in our programs will contact us. The support from APP would be to assist Love the Kids Foundation in its journey. This kind of spreading the word on its social platforms could be the right way for us to promote our works.
APP: Dear Jean Claude, do you have anything to add on or to share with us we forgot to mention. Please feel free to speak your mind.
Jean Claude: I would like to thank the African Politics and Policy for this great opportunity for me to talk about myself and my works. Also, I would like to encourage other youth leaders who are struggling to realize their dreams. Late Nelson Mandela said ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’. I agree with his quote. Nobody has the right to stop your dreams, and none has to plan for your life process. Think big and plan well for a better future. Live to achieve.
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If you would like to donate, please contact the organisation for more information via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone
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