Friday, April 21, 2006
sorry for the broken entries...I can only access www for 30 min intervals... continuing… Then the kids sang a song that required jumping. I weaved my way into the center of them to join in the fun. They found the moozoomgo to be quite entertaining. We jumped, clapped and had a grand time. As the sea of kids moved with the jumping, I was conscious not to step on any toe but, I eventually took a tumble amidst the kids. I recovered nicely. The adults were concerned as I was buried in the sea of children…eventually I found my feet and rose to start again. They laughed and cheered. We took a group snapshot. It's hard to find anyone who can use my camera...usually I end up out of the photo or things are cut off. But Lindsay, I'm trying !!!. We had a great time. I asked if there was anything I could do to help. They said the 3rd graders were in great need of notebooks and markers. "Consider it done" was my reply. I showed the kids my Christmas collage to explain some of the precious people in my life. We then picked up Mbanda, Chantal's husband who was returning from West Africa. He is quite a handsome man. To me, he looks like a young Nelson Mandela. Mbanda is tall, in great shape and has a little grey on the top. We toured the new home that they are building. It's clear that they are successful people, but work incredibly hard to give back to society. The New Hope homes are just a "part" of their giving. I thought about the responsibility of taking on these kids. Caring for them. They are just working with their own money, some donations and trying to get a handle of costs. Medicines for the kids, as an example are very expensive. Gas is about $100us dollars per tank. They thought they could get by with 4 worker for 10 kids, but they now know it will take a least 5. Cleaning, cooking, gardening, night watchman etc....and remember, everything takes a long time. As an example, all laundry is done in a bucket of water then hung to dry. The love in this home is immense. I just can't believe how fortunate these kids are to be able to be in their care. Imagine one day you are an orphan and the next day you are in a place that, without question, ensures your bright future. As I look at the surrounding homes (or shall I say sheds) these children are blessed beyond measure. Tonight I looked in the eyes of these children and wondered how I could ever imagine leaving them next week. The hugs, the constant pestering for lessons, the giggles and the love make for a very complete and treasured day. While we share no common language, the love is very present. Each child is unique. Dorcas. The 5 week old spends more of the day sleeping, but is full of wonder when she awakes. "Doughlahnay"...as it sounds phonetically. She is 3 years old. I would pack her up with me if it were possible. She just sits in my lap or at my side every minute that I am present. She is my own personal side kick and we both think that it’s just perfect. Her story reflects so much of the genocide ripple effect that still is present today. Her grandparents were killed in the genocide. Her mother was 2 at the time and in all probability, like 90% of the kids that survived, witnessed the killings in person. Some people took her in to care for her. Eventually one of her caretakers began to rape her. Doughlanay is the product of one of the rapings. But this is all in her past now. After a month in the home she is full of life and giggles….the cycle of terror will end here. Sabrina - I'm just learning her story, but she loves to hug the other children. Fabiola - Around 6. She has large bumps all over her face, but they don't seem to be a bother to anyone including her. She constantly wants to learn. ABCs, 123's, kumbiya...she has also learned to throw a mean Viking football. Whatever she puts her mind to learn, she quickly masters. Oh Fabiola, what a wonderful big sister you are. The two boys are expected to return. Two more children are in the process of getting their paperwork settled. The home is luxurious by neighborhood standards. One large room with 2 new tan couches and chairs, a nice floor, a dining room table, a tv and dvd player (most on loan from Chantal and Mbanda's while their home is being built). The toys are sparse. The MN contingents contributions represent about 90% of the total. Oh how I wish I brought more paper and crayons! A rug covers about 1/2 of the floor so the children are safe if they take a tumble. It's a plastic weave of red and brown. Bunk beds fill the 3 bedrooms plus 2 cribs. I have a full size one in my room. There are no dressers, so the clothes we brought here sit on the top bunk of one bed. They are neatly arranged with pride. My bathroom has a functioning toilet and sink that provides a tiny stream of water. The lovely tub, while not functional, holds my "African bath"...a bucket and thermos. All in all, it's a great life. The other bath has a shower floor with running water. It is where all the children bathe each morning. Just an open base with a water spout. The toilet is missing a seat cover, but it meets their needs. The cooking facility is in the adjoining building. It is a sheet metal portable table with 4 slots for cooking. Coal fuels each of the slots. There are no toasters or electrics appliances of any sort so cooking 3 meals and three snacks a day is a full time job. Four big plastic buckets serve as the washing machine. All laundry is hand done outside under the car-port like covering and then hung to dry. After we picked up Mbanda, we went home to pick up Eddie and Tony (a cousin) we purchased the presents he will bring back to Germany with him. Chantal did some strong negotiating on my behalf too. Poor Mbanda - he was just like dad when mom and I shop. Trying to be patient but really bored. Not exactly a great way to spend the afternoon after along trip back to Rwanda. As always, the Mbanda family is gracious beyond measure. Tony, Eddie and I took a taxi back to the home where we made big posters for the wall. ABC's, clocks, colors. Since we didn’t have a hammed we used a rock to pound tacks into the wall. They are hung right next to cards from Pat and the kids which Chantal hung the second day.