Nkundabana – Trusted Adults Helping Orphans in Rwanda


In the mid-2000s, Lifeline Energy donated 700 solar and wind-up Lifeline radios to CARE Rwanda’s Nkundabana (Kinyarwanda for “I love children”) initiative.

After the 1994 Rwanda found itself with an overwhelming number of child-headed households – more than 100,000. It was impossible to imagine the situation at the time. Fully 17% of Rwanda’s population lived in a family headed by someone under the age of 18. It was hard for children to trust most of the adults around them as they could have been complicit in the killing of the families during the genocide. Increasingly, HIV/AIDS was becoming a serious problem given the staggering number of women who were raped during and after the conflict.

CARE adopted a community-based solution. The Nkundabana model mobilized trusted adult volunteers from the community to serve as mentors and role models. CARE provided training to Nkundabana’s (most of who were women), so they might, in turn, provide support and counseling for the orphans and other vulnerable children. These adults “who loved children” as their named implied, learned how to actively listen, counsel and guide children. They also were trained in how to provide psycho-social support to traumatized children.

By making regular visits to the child families, Nkundabana encouraged children to attend school, seek medical assistance, to report abuse to the authorities. They also provided an important emotional outlet in the form of psycho-social support.


Lifeline Radios Adding Value

The Nkundabana were also trained to use and care for the Lifeline radios. They were tasked with establishing listening groups of children enabling them to listen to soap opera dramas, the news and other information programmes. At the time there were two dramas that included orphaned children in their storylines. Urunana, dealt with health issues and Musekeweya focused on peace and reconciliation. After listening to the segments, the Nkundabana would facilitate discussions.

None of the households or Nkundabana owned radios at that time. People lived in extreme poverty and had neither the funds to buy radios or the batteries to power them.

It is estimated that the 700 Lifeline radios benefited at least 14,000 children directly and many thousands more Rwandans indirectly from our donation.