the children

i’m currently camped out at the internet cafe, waiting for another volunteer, tina, to show up from kigali. there are a couple of primary school kids, in their uniforms, peeking in the door and pointing at me. occasionally they say ‘good morning teacher’ and ‘how are you’. nice to know they’re well-taught.

if you haven’t checked out the handy fun-facts on the right-hand side of this website, you won’t know that in rwanda fifty percent of the population is under the age of fifteen. that’s about five million children running around this tiny plot of land. outside of kigali, the kids are amazing. i’ve already mentioned how they run up and hug me when i’m walking through the village. under fives aren’t yet in school (which is free here, or at least primary is) and they spend the better part of their days covered in dirt, helping mom with the family garden or watching the goats or jumping in big piles of bean shells. on my road there’s nshimye ‘no teeth’, arguably the boss of town, who’s constantly rolling his tire with a stick he’s carefully crafted. i’ve just taught him to say ‘sup yo’ and punch my hand. hysterical. next comes samumani ‘comment-t’appeles-ti’, so named because he’s always asking. yesterday he visited my classroom uninvited, poking his head in and getting laughs from the students. not last, and certainly not least is ‘big cheeks’, a pudgy little girl of about three who doesn’t say much but who’ll jog along holding amanda’s hand as she walks to and from school. ‘big cheeks’ looks like she’s about forty with a three-year-old body. very funny.

these are just the ones we’ve got nicknames for. there seem to be dozens and i can’t remember their names, but enjoy practicing kinyarwanda with them. and they’re learning too. they’ve picked up ‘bye’ even though i don’t remember saying it (they yell ‘bayee!’). it seems word travels fast in musha. today i met some kids for the first time (instead of hugging me, they touched my hand and then ran away to hide behind mom’s legs) but they already knew my name and ‘bayee!’ i guess it’s not that much of a stretch. i am simply the taller of two muzungus in town.

some of the little ones cry when they see me. this is because rwandan parents sometimes tell them that if they’re bad, a muzungu will come and eat them.

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~ by aliciawolcott on February 23, 2007.

One Response to “the children”

  1. Hi Sweetie, its so good to hear your news and imagine through your words the world you are experiencing. So you are teaching them in French then I take it from above? Your 2nd language and theirs I assume – what an equalizer. It means everyone must be committed to communicating to be successful I would think.
    I hope you can tell the fearful little ones with sign language that your heart is full of love. Draw a happy face in the dirt with a stick!

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