Rwanda Trip June, 2013 Saturday, June 8, 2013 Blog

Rwanda Trip June, 2013  Saturday, June 8, 2013 Blog

We leave at 7:30AM to go to the bus to Sonrise boarding school where the Rebecca Davis Dance Company sponsors 5 boys. JHH sponsors the newest of the five to enrol – Zidane. The bus ride takes two hours. Arriving at the last minute, I’m in the back row – sun blazing on me – while Eugene is in the incredibly uncomfortable foldable middle seat in front of me.

I forgot to tell Jean that we were not leaving at 6:45 but at 8 so he arrived quite really and exhausted, and slept through most of the ride.

Eugene is very interested in symbols so we talked about the seven branched candelabra in the Temple and the peace symbol as well as the meaning of prime numbers in Judaism. His favorite number is 3.

At last, we reached the school. It being a weekend, there were no formal classes though J Do (Jean de Dieu), one of our boys, was chosen to be goalie on the school team and was playing a game – they lost by one goal, having previously won eight games. He gives Rebecca and Eugene big hugs and is very upbeat and animated. He is clear doing very well and has adjusted to his new environment. He shows us his worn out goalie gloves and requests a complete, appropriate goalie outfit. After the July vacation, says Rebecca.

Unfortunately, he confirms our suspicions about another of our boys, whom he says is on probation. Pierre has already said that as a former street kid and a recent arrival, he is being blamed for every item that disappears and is often beaten up. Indeed, his shoulder is quite painful to him.  He looks dejected and morose. We meet the head matron (matrons sleep in the rooms with the boys) who says that he is s difficult boy but offers to have him sleep in her room with the others whom Rebecca has brought to the school. It is hoped that under her watchful eye and without the influence of other difficult children in his current bedroom who may be leading him into bad behavior, Pierre may respond with self-control and continue to be one of the best learners in the school. Our other boys promise to help him change. (Pierre denies that he has stolen anything or started any fighting. More conversations will be had with the administration next week.)

Patrick starts to cry. We remind him of his home. It seems that he feels guilty about having such a positive opportunity while the rest of his family is suffering.  He was born with a partially closed eyelid and complains about eye problems, hoping to get glasses (very popular in Rwandan youth culture) or other treatment. There will be visits to the School Nurse on Monday for the kids’ various ailments and headaches, and then follow-up on Kigali, if necessary.

Zidane, arriving less than two months ago, seems to be happy and very social and is adjusting quickly. They expect him to be the top student. He is 14 and enjoys most: English classes and playing outside.

The boys ask for watches with alarms so, like the others, they can wake up early to review their lessons and can be on time during the day. They also want balls to play with like the other boys bring from home. They ask for Bibles so they can participate more fully in the English classes which use them.

Pierre asks if it would be possible for half of their July vacation to be spent at home and the other half in a safe learning environment. The boys need remedial work and seem eager to do it. Their home situation, if there is one, can be very volatile and problematic. This is why a house is needed for the boys to come to during each of their vacations.

Rebecca asks them if they have continued to dance, and they say that sometimes they do the exercises, but that it is hard to dance without music. Perhaps, they might be given a radio? Patrick agrees to take responsibility for it. It might lend our students a degree of respect as they show what they have learned as dancers.

Rebecca gives them a pep talk, encouraging them to keep trying and learning despite all of the real challenges they face. It is clear that the process of joining a school like this will be quite difficult and that our boys will need continuing support. Eugene will continue to follow their progress closely.

Rebecca is increasingly happy about the name C-Jump for her program, ICAN having already been taken. It refers to a special leap with head and legs back.  Zidane demonstrates it with great enthusiasm. Perhaps, he will be the poster child for the whole project.

JHH will provide watches, Bibles and balls. The Director will decide if a radio would be acceptable and how it might be safe-guarded and controlled.

On the bus tide home, Eugene asks if he could become a rabbi and what I think about homosexuality. It takes almost the whole two hours to respond. He is pleased with answer #1 and disagrees with answer #2.

We take a taxi to Jean’s rental apartment. It is very modest and he is eager to leave (and his landlord wants to use it for someone else). His plan is to move in with his mother in the new house that he and his sister (serving as a peace-keeper in Sudan) are building for her.

 

We drive an hour to his mother, Jeanne D’Arc’s home. There I see their former house on the same property, built on mud bricks and very small for a family of 5. The new home is beautiful and nearly finished. Jean spends the next hour and a half inspecting the work and negotiating the amounts still due. His mother is lovely but distracted by the house issues. Jean has become quite knowledgeable about all aspects of home-building and is very concerned about how much everything is costing. It will be the nicest house around with enough rooms for us to visit!

 

The high point for me, listening to incomprehensible conversations in kinye-Rwanda, is sharing pictures of Sebastian which require no words.

During the drive up and back, Jean talks non-stop. I learn about his theories about women and about his Rwandan girl friend living in Buffalo. Maybe we’ll attend the wedding there, if they decide to marry. We’re like two young guys talking about it all. I’ve never heard him talk so non-stop.

Back at the hotel by 76PM, I start writing this, take a shower and meet Jean to go the whole fish without silverware dinner. Unfortunately, once we’re there, they say it will take an hour. We’re too tired and hungry to wait, so it’s delicious fish brochettes.

I’m thrilled that there will be no wake-up call tomorrow morning. I’ll need to get to breakfast by ten and be ready by 1PM to go out with Suzanne’s translators Laura and Aline. Not bad at all.