Family Reunification: Fiacre's Story
FIACRE, 7, RWANDA
· Pauline, 29 – mother
Since 2015, Save the Children has strived to protect and keep safe more than 31,000 children in Mahama Camp. In collaboration with UNHCR and MINEMA, Save the Children traces families and reunites them with their children in Rwanda and Burundi. In addition, Save the Children provides comprehensive case management services to unaccompanied and separated children living in Mahama Camp.
Fiacre, 7, arrived in Rwanda on the 30th of November, 2019 passing through Gatore Reception Center before being relocated to Mahama Camp in November 2020. Through best interest of a child assessment, Save the Children case workers assessed the Fiacre’s case and reported that his journey began in Burundi when his uncle took him from his grandmother, removing him from school, and fled with him to Rwanda without his parents’ consent.Fiacre shared with Save the Children case workers that the person calling himself the father of Fiacre is not his real father but it is fact his uncle. He told the case worker that his mother lives in Rwanda but does not know where she is.
Although Fiacre’s uncle registered Fiacre as his biological son, our case workers’ due diligence revealed the nature of their relationship and that the 7-year-old was experiencing abuse including neglect and emotional abuse. This prompted the case worker to place Fiacre in Save the Children alternative care program. Fortunately, a foster family was soon later identified and assessed. Fiacre was well received into their family.
Although his foster parents embraced him, Fiacre missed his family and wished to be reunited with his birth mother and siblings who lived in Rwanda.The family tracing was initiated and her mother was found to be living in Ngoma District around a few Kilometres from Mahama Camp. With this information, the best interest determination panel comprising of Government and other child protection partners including UNHCR, concluded that it is in the best interest of Fiacre to be living with his biological mother.
In Fiacre’s Own Words:
My mother received me with warmly, it is all well now, I’m feeling good.
Even though Save the Children helped me with everything while I was in Mahama Refugee Camp, being here at home with my mother is better than living in the camp without her.
Fiacre’s Mother in Her Own Words:
I spent two years without knowing where my son was, I was thinking that he is dead.
I was getting desperate, I go a phone call from someone I didn’t know. She told me she is a Save the Children staff and asked me if I know a boy called Fiacre. I told her it was my son. I asked if my son was still alive, and she replied please describe your son and I described him.
I remember her telling me to be patient as my son is safe and he is in good health. I felt so relieved, the case workers visited me and showed me my son’s pictures. After the visit, they brought my son to me.
When I was reunited with my son, I was extremely happy and grateful because in my mind I was thinking he is no longer alive, but I saw him in good health and he was grown up since the last time we saw each other.
For the past five years, Save the Children has been on the frontlines of the Burundian refugee response providing integrated humanitarian services including lifesaving and critically needed child protection, health and nutrition interventions for girls, boys, women and men with or without disabilities. As part of this mission, Save the Children supports family tracing and reunification for child refugees in Rwanda. In collaboration with ICRC, UNHCR and MINEMA, in 2021 to date, Save the Children has reunited 21 unaccompanied and separated children with their families in cross border and in country reunification.