Your child could have been abused or threatened in one way or another and found it hard reporting the incident! Well, this is no more.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) in partnership with World Vision Rwanda have unveiled a ‘Child Helpline’ facility valued at Rwf162 million to easy the communication and response to child-related abuses.
The Child Helpline uses a short code toll-free – 116 – and operates in the Rwanda National Police Call Centre in Kacyiru. It has the capacity to receive at least 30 calls simultaneously.
The Deputy Inspector General in charge of Administration and Personnel, Juvenal Marizamunda, while officially receiving an assortment of equipment for the facility from World Vision on Monday, commended the partnership between the two entities in fronting the rights of children in Rwanda.
The equipment includes 32 computers, projectors among others.
“The future of our country lies on having healthy and educated children living in a safer and conducive environment. The prevention of child abuse is the responsibility of everyone including children themselves,” DIGP Marizamunda said.
He noted that “This is a big hounor for many children who are being deprived of their rights and freedom by irresponsible and heartless people. The facility will help officers to ensure quality and quick response."
The Deputy Police Chief went on to say that “RNP remains committed to the protection and assistance of children” adding that this is a “clear message that the future of our great nation depends on our children by ensuring that they grow in a conducive environment free from any kind of abuse and violence.”
George Gitau, the National Director of World Vision, noted that the mission of the non-governmental organization and that of RNP supplement each especially in areas of child protection and advocacy.
World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.
“This is a system that will be much helpful in terms of helping Rwanda and RNP in particular in its policy to understand and respond to the needs of children and women in the country, so it’s a system that will bring efficiency, effectiveness in terms of the way our officers are able to deliver their services,” Gitau said.
“Initially, it was just an idea on paper but we now have a system that is up and operational. It’s a partnership that’s working and we hope to continue to walk and grow together,” he added.
According to Chief Supt. Elie Mberabagabo, Commissioner for Communication and Information System (CIS) at RNP, which also oversees the operations of the Call Centre, the establishment of the Child Helpline facility was the first phase, and it will be followed by other two phases – training of officers in handling child related issues and rolling out of awareness campaign.
“The Child Helpline, like other hotlines, is a safety and life service short-code, but the reason why it’s distinguished from other emergency issues is because of the nature; not everyone can be able to handle issues related to child abuse and even gender based violence,” said CSP Mberabagabo.
“We need to have people who are trained to handle such issues like counselors who can properly make a follow up of a victim, officers who will be working of the child helpline desk on how to use the system, and what they should the child who has been victimized,” Mberabagabo explained.
“This is why it is specifically managed, specifically handled.”
“Each call that comes to RNP is well recorded, the caller registered so that it can be useful for future reference.”
Meanwhile, he revealed that plans are also underway to connect the Child Helpline to Isange One Stop Centres, which in charged with providing free medical, psycho-socio and legal services to both gender based violence and child abuse victims.
RNP now has eight short codes – toll-free lines. Others are 110 for marine, 111 (fire), 112 (general emergency), 113 (traffic police), 3512 (GBV), 3511 (abuse by police officer) and 997 (reporting corruption).
“A lot of information is got through these wires, and it is significantly contributing to policing operations,” CSP Mberabagabo said.
However, the Call Centre, he says, is facing challenges of people who are abusing the lines.
“The biggest challenge we have is that this whole facility – Call Centre – is being abused because we receive calls that are really strange – someone asking for money, husband or wife, people should know and value these emergency services because when a person is abusing the system, it blocks chances of genuine callers accessing that service.”
He appealed to the public to instead utilize the toll-free lines to report and overcome criminality and injustices.