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International Day for Street Children: Patrick’s story

Patrick, a former street child from Rwanda.
Patrick, a former street child from Rwanda.

There are millions of vulnerable street children around the world. Today marks the second annual International Day for Street Children, an opportunity for street children to have their voices heard. Patrick is a former street child from Rwanda.

Street children are children who sleep on the street. They are sometimes orphaned, often by HIV/AIDS, or abandoned by their parents living in desperate poverty and unable to care for them.

SOS Children work to prevent children from living on the streets through our Family Strengthening Programmes (FSPs). FSPs are designed to support parents to care for their children, avoiding family break-up and children being left alone. We also provide support for children who already live on the streets, through our SOS Medical and Social Centres. Where there is a need, Social Centres offer ‘drop in’ sessions and provide street children with food, information on HIV/AIDS, education and training.

Many children living in our 508 SOS Children’s Villages are former street children, who have been given a second chance in life with the love and support of their SOS mother.

Patrick’s story: from street child to successful young adult

Patrick was abandoned by both his parents at an early age, and had no other family to take him in. Forced to live in the streets and beg, his future looked bleak.

“I was born in 1992 in Rwanda's Northern Province”, says Patrick “My parents separated and abandoned me when I was eight years old. They remarried and neither of them accepted me in their respective new families. I turned to my relatives to find shelter but they refused. I realised I was alone in this world.”

Patrick was forced to leave school in order to make money to survive. He started as a singer and a musician, playing the iningiri, a traditional music instrument similar to a violin. Yet his income was too small to enable him to rent anyplace to live. Patrick says “I had no choice but become a street child and sleep under bridges.”

Patrick's life as a street child lasted three years. One day, the Rwandan police collected a number of street children and took them to a rehabilitation centre. Patrick was one of them.

In consultation with the government authorities, Patrick came to live at SOS Children's Village in Kigali where he not only found shelter, but also a home with an SOS mother, an SOS aunt and brothers and sisters. He was able to return to school and pass all his exams. Patrick is now 20 and lives in the SOS Youth Home close to the Village, where young adults prepare for independence.

Patrick is grateful for the support SOS Children has given him. “SOS Children helped me a great deal and my SOS mother always encouraged me and praised my efforts” Patrick says “I can stand on my own two feet now, and I feel part of a family. My dream is to improve my life after completing my studies, so that I can help other vulnerable children, just like SOS Children has been helping me.”

You can give a child like Patrick a second chance in life by taking out a child sponsorship.