Our Mission Statement

The Mission of Shelter Them Rwanda is to empower vulnerable and underprivileged children in Rwanda, first by ensuring that their basic growth and development needs are met, and then by then providing them and their families with the tools and resources the children need, especially education, to have a productive, independent, and sustainable future!


Our Values

We believe….

  • that all people are created equal, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, identity, or any other factor that is intended to divide us one from the other
  • that all people should have the right to safe drinking water, sufficient food, safe shelter, and medical care
  • that all children should have the right to live in a safe environment where they are free to play and grow
  • that all children should have the right to an education, so they can have the chance, to the best of their abilities, to achieve an independent, productive and sustainable future
  • that every person should be entitled to understanding, tolerance, dignity and respect
  • that whenever and wherever we find people who do not have access to these rights, that we should do whatever is in our power to redress the inequality

Our Faith

From our inception, Shelter Them has worked to provide food, shelter, education, and medical care to the children and families in Rwanda who we serve, so that they can be empowered to transform their lives. We also strive to provide them with hope for a better future. Shelter Them does not discriminate against people of any faith. However, most of the people we serve also find hope through their Christian faith, a faith shared by many of Shelter Them’s staff and supporters, so we provide to the people we serve the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to experience the hope it brings, as we would for people of any faith. To achieve our mission, we need to provide both food for the body and hope for the soul.

Our Responsibilities

Shelter Them is committed to being fully accountable and transparent to the children and the communities we work with, as well as to our supporters, partners, and employees.

Our activities are conducted legally, ethically and in accordance with the highest standards of integrity.

Shelter Them Rwanda is a national non-governmental organization registered in Rwanda with certificate No 100/2014. Furthermore, Shelter Them partners with the Government of Rwanda to ensure the provision of the rights of the child and the protection of children from all sorts of harm and violence.

  • The welfare of children is our primary concern. All employees and representatives must commit to safeguarding children and respecting their rights, both at work and in their personal lives.
  • We have clear procedures to prevent, report and respond to any risks to children. We ensure that the children and families we work with understand their rights, the behaviour they should expect from us and how they can raise any concerns.
  • We have a zero-tolerance approach to fraud, bribery, or corruption.
  • We have policies that govern the organization, including a Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct, which you can read below under Click here to read our Safeguarding Duties. These policies are intended to guide our employees and volunteers to meet our high standards of ethics and conduct.
  • We are committed to creating and maintaining an open and accountable working environment and encourage all stakeholders including children, young people, and families with whom there is contact to report concerns in good faith. Where a person feels unable to raise a concern through standard feedback channels because of reasonable grounds to fear reprisal, he or she may use the mechanisms provided by our Whistleblowing Policy.

We monitor and evaluate our programs to measure and demonstrate our positive impact on children’s lives and ensure we use our resources efficiently. All of our policies have been written in accordance with the guidelines required by the Rwandan government

Our History

The impetus for Shelter Them began in 2005. Twin Rwandan sisters Jocelyne Alexandre and Josephine Murphy had grown up in a refugee camp in Burundi because their family fled persecution in Rwanda in the 1960s. Both sisters later emigrated to Canada, and when they visited Rwanda in 2005, their brother Jules Higiro and their mother had organized a feeding program at a local church in Kigali, the capital city, for street children orphaned in the genocide or living in extreme poverty with their families. Josephine and Jocelyne were inspired to help in that effort, and when they returned to Canada, they founded Shelter Them Poverty Relief, to raise funds for the children of Rwanda.

It soon became clear that food alone would not solve the enormous problems facing these children, so Shelter Them Rwanda, led by Jules Higiro, with funding from Canada, rented several homes in Kigali to provide shelter for children (later extended to families in extreme poverty) as well as education and medical care. To help to provide for the additional cost of such care, Shelter Them initiated the sponsorship program in 2013, after realizing that the only way to make a lasting impact was to create a model that could provide long term and reliable funding.

A number of factors contributed to the decision to move Shelter Them operations from Kigali to the village of Gateko in Bugesera District. The cost of living in Kigali was increasing dramatically, and the Rwandan government was moving away from the orphanage model that Shelter Them had been following. There were also more opportunities for employment in Gateko. But most important, Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Canada in 2015 and met Josephine and Jocelyne. At their request, President Kagame, on behalf of the Rwandan government, donated a five-acre parcel of land in Gateko, and Shelter Them moved all its operations to Gateko in 2016 and expanded the sponsorship program to children in Gateko. We built a community centre in Gateko in 2018, where our Early Childhood Development Centre is located. We began building houses for the neediest in the village, created a sewing and a farming cooperative, and brought water to the village. And thanks to the generosity and kindness of our supporters, the work continues.

Today, Shelter Them consists of two sister organizations. Shelter Them Rwanda operates all our programs, through the staff centred there. Shelter Them Poverty Relief is an organization comprised entirely of volunteers based mainly in Canada, whose primary function is to provide funding for our various programs. Each organization has its own Official Board, but both organizations share in the planning and implementation of programs.

It is very important to emphasize that from its inception, Shelter Them has never been about aid. It began and it continues to exist and operate with the single goal of giving the children and caregivers we serve a choice in the way their lives evolve, rather than having an inevitable future linked to poverty imposed on them. We are working to achieve that goal through education and capacity building to give the people we serve the tools and opportunities to have an independent, productive, and sustainable future.

Our Leadership Team

We could not have accomplished all we have for the children and families we serve without the dedicated, hard working staff in Rwanda

Tao Gauthier

Country Director

Gloria Nyiramariza

Family Coordinator

Julius Twahirwa

Education Coordinator

Sylvine Mukagatete

Community Support Manager

Marcel Iradukunda

Sponsorship Manager and Public Relations Coordinator

Our ECDC Caregivers


  Nadine Kamikazi

  Espèrence Nyirangabire

  Betty Nyirahabineza

  Françoise Bayavugirubusa

  Béatrice Nakure 

  Dativa Masengesho 

  Naome Nyiramana 

  Drocelle Tuyizere

And our staff in Shelter Them Rwanda could not have done all they have done without the encouragement, financial support, and cooperation of their overseas partners

Shelter Them Rwanda Board

Tao Gauthier - Country Director

Jules Higiro - Chair

Cyusa Mucyowiraba Léandre - Trustee

Sandra Haile Brugger - Trustee

David Jenkins - Fundraising Director

Golou Naderi - Risk Governance and Audit Trusee

George Kwehangana - Trustee

Shelter Them Canada Board of Trustees

Josephine Murphy - Chair

Jocelyne Alexandre - Vice Chair

Jim Banning - Treasurer

Golou Naderi - Trustee

Daphne Wells - Trustee

Sharon Robson - Trustee

David Jenkins - Trustee


Shelter Them USA Board of Trustees

Sharon Banning - Chair

Sherry Jenkins - Vice Chair

Jim Banning - Treasurer

David Jenkins - Secretary