As the walk will be beginning in two days, I thought I would post one more time. I have some really important things to share with you. My friend Sally, who is the person responsible for introducing me to the school and children, recently just got back from Rwanda. It was a short visit, but she was able to spend 2 full days at the school. During these two days, she bought the children porridge. We wanted to do a test run, if you will.
The children were incredibly grateful, and Sally also donated some money to pay for some logistical costs such as the cups and pots needed for the cooking. This is a huge help, so now the money raised from the walk will go directly to buying the porridge ingredients.
Sally also took time to speak with two girls that attend the school and also live in the rooms we have rented out to house some of the kids. I have provided Florence's story below. It is not the happiest of beginnings to say the least, but the future is bright.
Florence was born during the genocide in 1994. At the time, she was separated from her parents and was in a refugee camp in the Congo. Her aunt brought her to a local orphanage. As the situation improved, the orphanage posted pictures of the children in a way to reconnect families who had been separated. Florence's parents came to get her. Her father was immediately enraged, claiming that she was not the right child and therefore not his. And so began a childhood of rejection by the ones meant to love her.
The family moved to Rwanda in the main city, Kigali. The parents fighting intensified until one day the father beat her mother so badly, he was sent to prison. After which, her mother turned to prostitution and began to blame Florence for all of her problems. Florence left her mother at the age of 10 looking for someone to take care of her.
After staying with a grandmother for a little, she stayed with her aunt. Her Aunt eventually married a man who already had children of his own. As happens much too often, the man did not want Florence as his child and they made her leave. I spare people the details of how the man "made" her leave. Florence was then finding places to sleep in vacant buildings she could find.
At the age of thirteen, her father had been released from prison. Florence went to find him, only to be beaten and chased out by the father's new wife. Florence tried to return to her mothers at the age of 14, but her mother had remarried as well. The new husband did not want her and made her leave as well. I spare the details again.
Florence wandered to Kanombe, which is where the school is, where she found work at a woman's house as a "house girl." As many house workers do, they work all morning and through the night fetching water, cleaning, washing, gardening etc. Unfortunately many house workers are not treated well, as was the case for Florence. She was supposed to be making 4,000 Rwandan Francs a month ($6.50), but she was never paid.
At this point, Florence had heard people talking about Muhumurize Catch-up School, and she decided to check it out. She met the headmaster named Theo, and he welcomed her. Florence would never be able to work her long hours at the house and go to school, so she left the closest thing she had for a "home." Florence would attend school in the morning and afternoon and then would go into town to try and find a little work she could do so she could make a little money to eat that night. When nighttime came, Florence would return to the school grounds and sleep on the ground next to a bush. The night guard discovered this and brought it to Theo's attention.
Theo welcomed Florence to stay at a room that was rented for any girl who did not have a place to sleep. Four girls now live in the room and look after each other. For awhile, they were sharing one twin foam mattress on the ground but Sally bought another one for them. Everyone was extremely happy and grateful.
Florence started school this last April. Although she has had no previous education, she was able to begin in level 2 (of 3) in the school and ended the last term in the upper half of her class. She has incredible drive as was proven by her sacrifices she was making to come to school. Her goal is to pass her exams this year so she can attend level three next year and get her Primary School Certificate. Sally, then asked Florence what she wanted to be, and she immediately smiled and said "I want to be a doctor." Florence is extremely thankful for her new life.
So please enjoy the photos; you can expect more like these when I return in Rwanda, and all because of your selfless donations. We will begin the walk nice and early on the 11th, please follow the blog for updates about the walk!