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'Nkundabana' Community Mentorship for OVC

In 2002, Narcisse Gasigwa was left to take care of himself when his two older brothers left home after their mother died. Now 19 years old, Narcisse works with an Nkundabana mentor who not only helped him stay in his family home, but also advises him on income-generating activities and planning for his future. © 2008 Audra Melton/CARE
In 2002, Narcisse Gasigwa was left to take care of himself when his two older brothers left home after their mother died. Now 19 years old, Narcisse works with an Nkundabana mentor who not only helped him stay in his family home, but also advises him on income-generating activities and planning for his future. © 2008 Audra Melton/CARE

 

Overview:

CARE's 'Nkundabana' Community Mentorship model seeks to provide OVC, without (sufficient) adult support, with a volunteer mentor from their community who helps them in multiple aspects of their lives. The participating children choose adults they trust to serve as their Nkundabana (volunteer mentor). With training and guidance from CARE, each mentor helps several child-headed or vulnerable households. Via regular home visits, the Nkundabana supports the children’s emotional well-being, assesses their physical needs, and acts as advocate, counselor, protector, friend and bridge to the community and service providers. The Nkundabana can for example bring a child to the hospital in case of sickness, talk to the local authorities if there is a dispute over land or property, and ensure that the children go to school. Nkundabana mentors also help to channel essential services and resources such as food rations, school equipment, school enrollment and health insurance to the OVC.

Purpose:

As the Nkundabana actively involve others in the care for and protection of OVC, the model combines the efforts of the Nkundabana, the communities in which OVC reside, local authorities, service providers and OVC themselves to fulfill the children’s rights. To facilitate peer support as well as ensure a stronger voice in advocacy, Nkundabana from the same area are brought together in Nkundabana associates.  Appreciation days and fun days are organized to recognize their work, build links between OVC, Nkundabana and the wider community and build wider awareness of child rights.

Various evaluations have found that the Nkundabana model is successful in reaching its objectives. More than 90% of OVC linked with Nkundabana mentors were satisfied by the quality of services received, the relationship with their Nkundabana volunteer mentor, and the impact of the project on their well-being and integration in the community.

So far, some of the main lessons learnt on the Nkundabana model include:

  • Broad and meaningful community participation is essential. Although very time consuming, this participation can prevent many difficulties, such as jealousy, at later stages.
  • Volunteer mentors need to be motivated, retained and rewarded for their efforts. Nkundabana mentors agree to give a lot of their time to do difficult work for the benefit of OVC and the community. Experience with similar programs internationally suggests that a program based on the work of volunteers needs to be professionalized to the greatest possible extent in order to maintain motivation, quality of work, satisfaction and mutual benefit. The work of Nkundabana mentors should be guided by a clear and transparent policy that regulates the relationship between an implementing agency and the volunteer and gives guidelines through the use of incentives such as gifts and travel allowances.  In order to ensure that volunteers feel rewarded, while retaining the voluntary character of the work, social recognition of their work through such events as appreciation days can be encouraged.
  • Interventions must be ready to meet the needs of various categories of OVC. As CARE’s experience in OVC programming has evolved, it has paid increasing attention to the different needs of boys, girls, different age groups and different categories of OVC. One important addition to CARE’s OVC interventions was the inclusion of ECD activities so as to better meet the needs of very young OVC. Another addition was succession planning for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Next to this, the inclusion of the Nkundabana’s husband or wife in trainings on SRH ensures that all OVC can talk to somebody of their own sex on this subject. Lastly, although CARE Rwanda’s first experiences with the Nkundabana model were specifically to support child-headed households, initiatives to innovate with support for other OVC whereby the Nkundabana support the parents in their role are underway.

The concept of voluntary community mentors who look after the needs of children and who were called Nkundabana was first introduced by Food for the Hungry International (FHI) in Gitarama Province in early 2000. At first, Nkundabana mentors mainly facilitated service delivery, especially food distribution. Based on an assessment of OVC needs, CARE Rwanda enriched the initial model to include child protection and psycho-social elements and to give it a stronger foundation within the community.

Documentation:

For more detailed information on the Nkundabana model, please refer to the Nkundabana Toolkit available from the Resources section of this website.

Model Info

  • Date first used: 2000 July

  • Partners using model:

    ARCT Ruhuka, Haguruka, AEE, ASOFERWA, Uyisenga n'Manzi, YWCA

  • Districts using model:
    • Rulindo,
    • Nyamagabe,
    • Nyanza,
    • Rubavu, 
    • Nyabihu,
    • Rwamagana, 
    • Bugesera,
    • Nyarugenge,
    • Kicukiro and
    • Gasabo

     

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