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May 27 2013 | BUTARE PROVINCE, RWANDA

The story of Maurice, from the street to the family home of Sant'Egidio

 
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Last week we talked about Sant'Egidio in Rwanda and the former family home for street kids managed by the Community in Butare. A score of children, supported by the distance adoption programme, have found a haven that has meant warmth and opportunities for the future. Thanks to the affection of the members of the Community these kids have recovered from a difficult childhood and adolescence with hope and dreams for their future.

What I speak about is an exemplary story shared by all, that of Maurice G..

Maurice was born in 1992 in a province in the South of the country. During the genocide of 1994, his family - father, mother and five children - had taken refuge in South Kivu. But the chaos of flight, and the huge crowd, had meant that the family lost contact with Maurice, who was then only two years old. It 's almost a miracle that the baby survived. He returned to Rwanda with a gang of kids in the same situation, at seven, after a short stay with a distant relative. Maurice starts to travel around the different cities of the country, Nyanza, Gitarama, Kigali, Butare, as a street kid, always looking for tricks to survive, always oppressed. And while living on the street he receives some terrible news: during a fight in the refugee camp in Kivu, his father had killed his mother. Maurice still suffers a lot when he talks about how he received the news.

The youth of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Butare met him on the street some time later. They have overcome his initial distrust, they loosened the mask of toughness that concealed the fragility of a boy without a family; a friendship was born. Maurice began to attend the School of Peace, he became close to new older siblings.

In 2005, when the Rwandese government inaugurated a tougher policy towards street children, forcing institutionalization in public facilities, Sant'Egidio thought about responding to their needs with the creation of a more human, a more familiar context. The family home of Sant'Egidio was born in Butare and Maurice was one of the first guests.


Thanks to this, his life has changed dramatically. Not only because from then on he started to eat everyday and dress well, to attend school regularly, to be registered in the civil registry. But also because living together in a new and non-confrontational with his peers and friends of the Community, Maurice has learned to give the right value to the contact with others, to human relationships. He was taken to seek for their relatives in the country, to re-establish ties with them, to meet them during the summer.

Today Maurice has become a young man who looks to the future with confidence, who nurtures small and big ambitions, who dreams to make his own contribution to the growth of his country. And he thanks Sant'Egidio, which for him was a place of salvation from shipwreck, abandonment, and marginalization.

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