Wednesday, May 03, 2006

School Days

The first-graders, all dressed up and ready for school

The 300 primary-aged children of Nkamira camp are back in school! They were sent home several weeks ago because they did not have uniforms like the other children, and because they didn’t have books.

We appealed to UNICEF, which kindly provided 5 “schools-in-a-box,” each providing supplies for 80 students. UNHCR headquarters provided money to fabricate uniforms (you can’t buy them in stores). Today, we gathered in our multipurpose tent, set up tables, and filled plastic UNICEF bags with supplies, handing them to the children with a new uniform. The children clapped and cheered. Smiling parents watched from outside the tent. The kids looked wonderful in their clean, new uniforms.

Balthazar and I, filling the UNICEF bags with school supplies

It was one of my happiest moments in Rwanda to date. After a year, the children are finally going back to school.

The older kids received several writing books, a pen, pencil, and ruler; the younger kids received writing books, individual chalkboards, chalk, and a pencil.

Writing books, given by UNICEF

The leftover pencils and writing books will be given to the Boy/Girl Scouts, which have finally gotten off the ground. The Scouts are mostly secondary-aged students. School fees for secondary aged students can be upwards of $30 a trimester per person, and we are unable to provide the fees for every student. As a result, secondary-aged students are still not in school (and probably won’t be through the end of this year), but we may be able to afford it next year. In the meantime, the Scouts are giving them an informal education, but an education nonetheless; they teach general education, like the history of Rwanda, the history of the United States (I laughed at this, but they’re serious! Amazing how other cultures know everything about us and the average American seems to know nothing about other countries), ethnic unity, English, French, and the like.

It was a great (and tiring!) day.


Blogger Stephen A. Bess said...

I think that it's great what you're doing over there. You're correct when you mentioned that the average American knew very little about other cultures. It's great that some of us out here are still curious about the rest of the world. Take care.

5/03/2006 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't so true....when I was in Rwanda, I, along with my team, noticed how much the kids love to learn. It is so great to be able to provide them with something they need. I am so happy to read about you are doing there in Rwanda. I miss it so much. I love Rwanda and can't wait to go back. I just got back April 7. I was in Ruhuha, south of Kigali. Thanks for all your information and Kinyarwanda.

5/03/2006 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The kids look so happy and proud. This was such a good thing for them. Made me smile all day long just thinking about it.

5/10/2006 3:38 PM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

They're so proud that they insist on wearing their uniforms, even when they're not in school!

Thanks for reading!

5/11/2006 12:39 PM  

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