Bonjour, bonjour!! this is what you hear, walking through streets in Ruanda, be it Kigali or some rural village. Sometimes its origin it’s hard to place but finally you detect a little kid standing in a dooryard or half hiding behind a tree up the hill. Or it’s the obvious ‘Muzunghu’ (white person), sometimes only whispered more often called after you.
Kids are everywhere here, if you see them in the morning, then they are mostly dressed in their school outfits, girls in blue shirts and skirts, the boys in khaki. If you get to poorer areas these are sometimes the only clothes they have, so they can look pretty ragged. And then they stretch out there hand to say hi and follow you all the way or at least to the end of the village depending on where you are heading for, waving and calling bonjour! This can end up with being this crowd of ten kids around you, all smiling.
Or you see them on the road, helping their families with the daily workload, carrying firewood or water up and down the hill. There is compulsory education for primary school, though. It is grade 1-6 which means if the family can’t effort payment for secondary school, which are mainly boarding schools, the average age for a kid to leave school is 13-14. Well, I guess it’s better then nothing, but some have to walk very far distances everyday to actually get to school, as there is no money for something like schoolbusses.
Or here some other story. I visited a home for street boys, called ‘Les enfants de dieu’. It’s a very interesting project, which attempts to get boys of the street. It’s located outside of Kigali, so the kids have to make an effort to actually get there. But ones there, the organization is done by them selves. Basically you have eight ministries, with 4 members each (president, vice president, secretary and I forgot the fourth) who are elected for a year. The most powerful position has the minister of administration (other ministries include sports, education, home-affaires) and apparently there is real, big campaign before the election. The kids are really cool, friendly and very mature, not that surprising if you consider that they had lived on the street for some time before. I went there with two of the girls from NDA.
They usually give English classes in Saturday for an hour or so, but this time Marine wanted to say goodbye, as she was about to leave the next day. So I got an introduction into what they like, how the home is run and a tour, Their favorite sport is soccer, with the consequence, that the soccer field is always occupied and they keep rabbits (so cute..) on top of the fish lake (to increase growth of algae to feed the fish), both of course to eat or sell. And then Marine got a really good goodbye party, including some fabulous hip-hop show and dancing. Here some pics.