Retired police officers Rick Leonardini and Gary Rodgers, founders of Humura Centre have decided to ring in the New Year, 2013 by fundraising in order to support an organization striving to do good in Rwanda.
The centre was officially opened on March 30, 2012 in Huye district and it fights sexual violence amongst children. Officially opened on March 30, 2012 by government officials from Huye District, Butare, through education, community outreach and support of public h workers incharge of child affairs.
Humura Centre— is a project of a small non-government organization called Rwanda for Justice.
The first-ever child abuse center in Rwanda, has a staff of seven who provides trauma therapy to child victims, conducts forensic interviews and launched a series of sensitization training designed to get adults and children talking about the crime.
The two officials who are at present organizing fundraising at Solano, America said that change has already occurred. “In one case, a 6-year-old victim’s attacker was arrested and convicted.”
So far, 90 psychology students have been trained to counsel victims of sexual child abuse. These new counselors, the first of their kind in Rwanda and East Africa, are using professional treatment methods to help heal the scars of child abuse.
Future plans include providing training for professionals in the medical, legal, and criminal justice fields. Rwandan officials are interested in learning more about forensic medical exams, forensic interviews (victim and perpetrator), crime scene management, and criminal investigation.
The Forensic Interviewing that takes place at the centre is in full cooperation and coordination with the Gender Based Violence (GBV) unit of the local police and with the prosecutor’s office which is essential.
This forward thinking and underground breaking, efforts of the local police and prosecutor’s office, coupled with the introduction of the forensic interview, have lead to accomplishments never before seen in Rwanda.
“Historically, if the medical exam did not corroborate the child’s statement with physical evidence the entire case was dismissed— no further prosecution was possible,” said Leonardini.
However, with the introduction of the recorded and transcribed child interview the police and persecutor have worked together to get the interview introduced as evidence (which is also the first ever in Rwanda) and have gained conviction based solely on the child’s interview.
“We are pleased at the opportunity to collaborate on these important subjects, all of which have the potential to add up to a healthier and safer future for Rwanda’s children,” said Leonardini.
The centre is funded by donations from Valley Church members and others in the Vacaville community.
Currently the centre has counseled nearly forty children. In addition, we have provided support and counseling for the families of these children to ensure the child is in a home environment that is nurturing and conducive to their recovery.
The psychologists can successfully manage between 30 and 45 cases at present. Based on the need and number of referrals the centre is currently generating in Rwanda the centre had to also add a psychologist on a part-time basis.