Princess Benedikte was warmely welcomed by the children - Photo: Mariantonietta Peru
On 6 May 2011, SOS Children's Village Kayonza in eastern Rwanda was officially opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte of Denmark, with the mayor of Kayonza District, the Danish ambassador, the governor of Eastern Province of Rwanda, and many other honoured guests participating in the ceremony.
Children involved in ceremony
The children were actively involved in the inauguration ceremony. Dressed in various costumes typical of the region, they performed a series of traditional dances and songs for the guests, as well as poems: 'We have gone through many tragedies and fears, we were traumatized, but now we no longer suffer, we no longer have fear. We have hope now. We have hope because SOS Children's Village is there, we have hope because SOS mothers are there', said the poem, which was recited in the local language, Kinyarwanda.
Minister praises work of SOS Children's Villages
The children offered great performances at the opening ceremony - Photo: Mariantonietta Peru
SOS Children's Villages Rwanda national director Alfred Munyentwari seized the opportunity to thank all the people who supported the project, in particular the Danish government and local authorities, such as the mayor of Kayonza, who gave SOS Children's Villages land. At the same time, the representative of the Minister for Social Welfare readily praised the work of SOS Children's Villages in Rwanda and throughout the world.
Home to 120 children
Kayonza is located about 77 km from the country's capital of Kigali and is the fourth Rwandan SOS Children's Village in a country the organisation has been active since 1979. In Kayonza, up to 120 children can grow up in an SOS family. The social services include family strengthening programmes, a kindergarten, an SOS Primary School and a medical centre.
Rural living situation of children precarious
In the rural area of Kayonza, the living situation of children is extremely precarious. According to UNICEF they have hardly any access to school education, have to work for very low wages and have a particular risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. Many children are married off at a very early age, as is the case for 70% of all girls between the ages of ten and 19 years.