Not many muzungu visit Kageyo, partly because it is very remote. Those who do visit eastern Rwanda are most likely headed to the game park to see elephants and giraffes. We made the bumpy drive to see my sponsored daughter, Umulisa. Umulisa is seventeen years old and attends Kageyo Public School, which the Rwandan government asked Africa New Life to take over operation of in 2012.
Kageyo is a resettlement village developed on land taken from Rwanda’s national game park. More than 3,000 people live here. Food is scarce and jobs are non-existent.
When Kevin and I decided to sponsor a child through Africa New Life Ministries, I purposefully chose an older girl. This is because I know boys are more likely to complete high school than girls in the poorer families in Rwanda. Because while the government says school is free, it is not. There are fees and uniforms and books to purchase, and many families cannot afford to do so for all their children. When a choice must be made on which child will attend school, most often the son will go to school while the daughter will stay home to care for the family. I know this, because my friends in Boise experienced this exact situation. And so my heart is for girls’ education.
|Kayonza Primary School Students|
|Miss Jennifer's adorable "Top Class"|
From there we forged on, trading in blacktop for red packed dirt and a lot of rocks. We entered this red dessert where men and women do backbreaking work to cultivate the land by hand. They do only subsistence farming here as the ground will not give up anything more.
|the dusty road to Kageyoa|
When we arrived at Kageyo, we were met by the director and some of his staff. With them was a girl in uniform. I didn’t realize it was Umulisa until they introduced us. Oh we hugged so tightly. We then walked up the path to see her school. As we passed by each classroom window, children yelled and screamed and waved their hands through the open windows wanting to greet us. But really wanting just to touch a muzungu. I cannot tell you how many times children have run furtively up to me and run their fingers through my hair before racing away with a giggle.
|Umulisa and her|
As we returned to the van we walked past the first primary class lined up for lunch. Children at Kageyo receive lunch daily or they would go hungry. Lunch is maize and beans every day. It looked delicious, but Annette won’t let me eat any African food that is not cooked in the guest house because of my wimpy American stomach. We have had much discussion. . . disagreement over this, but I bow to her wisdom and also the desire not to be ill. Still, the maize and beans looked delicious.
|preparing lunch of |
maize and beans
Meeting Umulisa was the first time I have met a child Kevin and I sponsor. It was special and drove home to me the importance of this connection we have. The importance of writing letters to our sponsored children. The importance of letting them know we are here and supporting them and loving them from afar and encouraging them to do well in school, because it means everything to their future.
Before we said goodbye, Umulisa asked me to tell Caleb and Rebecca (my children) that she loves them very much and she prays for them every day.
When we left Umulisa at her school, she stood there waving goodbye. It was then I noticed she was wearing her new sandals. There are no borders or colors in love. We are all the same. Umulisa and I know it.
Child sponsorship with Africa New Life is available here. Sponsoring a child changes everything.
Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 9