I am a Child, Same as Others

With half a million orphans, Rwanda has one of the highest per capita orphan-populations in the world. This is a direct result of the horrific genocide that took place 17 years ago. My two housemates Sean and Jenny run an orphanage to give a home and love to some of these orphans. They do a tremendous job, leaving behind their comfortable lives back home, to care for more than 100 boys day in and day out. Their efforts do not go unnoticed and talking to some of the children makes you feel the overpowering gratitude towards this young couple together with all the local staff that care for them, teach them life skills, Math and English. As each boy has his own story to tell, his unique character and smile, I want to use this blog to voice just one of them. It is the voice of Lucky.

Lucky is one of our boys who has been living at the ROP Center for many years. He is in his final year as he is graduating from secondary school in December. Recently he wrote a poem for the celebration of ‘Africa’s Day of the Child’. Sean writes about it ‘despite the struggling English the poem hit me straight in the heart. It’s simple and genuine and even in its brevity you can’t help but get an idea of the pain these children must feel, and the hope they somehow find in life once someone, anyone, offers to help them.’

Read below his beautiful poem…

I am a child, same as the others
By: Lucky Faustin

I am a child, same as the others

I am a child like other children
I was born as they were born
I was never protected as they were
I suffered from difficulty and stress
I never wanted this, the love that was lacking

I am a child, same as the others
Your love is needed

Poverty is not a sickness
No one is born rich with wealth
You have to work hard
Fight against ignorance
Help those who are alone to be adopted
Pay their school fees for them
Help them when they are sick
Try to treat them well

The solution of poverty is to work hard
To work together willingly with others
Unify together
What you don’t know, you should ask

You cannot be sorry for your life
It may cause you to wander alone
You may spend nights in the bar, smelling like beer
When you return home you hit and torture your wife
That is not a family

When you see children in the road
Take one in and find someone to take another one in
The solution to their life comes from you
Uproot the wonderful completely

Education is greater than birth
If a child can learn he can become a leader
He may have a future without problems
He can be a soldier or he can be a policeman, protecting the country
He can build houses
He can help others in the streets

ROP is an exemplary place
We have the best behavior, culture and education
We have the teachers of our future
We will never criticize our leaders
Our guardians
Our parents
They always have us first
They are committed to us

Our parents live in America
They have always given much help in our lives
They really love us very much
We appreciate Sean and Jenny so much
We always live together with them
We joke and spend time together with them
They always give us what we need all the time
May God bless them

The children suffer from hunger
They take a decision to go to the streets
Where they become street children
This is caused by a lack of peace and harmony in their home
Each day, every day

They may spend nights under a bridge
They greet others on the streets
“How is it, man?” They say
“Be strong!” They say
Wearing rags for clothing

A girl sleeps wherever she can find
Sometimes where man take advantage
She can become pregnant
By luck she may live through it
She lives together with her baby on streets

A boy on the streets consumes drugs, alcohol and poison
They beg
Their voices change
The child becomes mature
He becomes a dangerous man
Because he lacks an education
And culture from his parents

When you pass by him, having a bag
He tears it from your shoulder
If you say something
He beats you
You may ask what happened to him
He tells you to go away
Saying the only one who cares about him is himself
He is not well
He suffers
Because nobody came to help him
Maybe someday he is in danger
Or he has nothing to eat
And he dies
Because nobody came to help him

You listen to me.
That is the street child’s life.

To hear other voices and see what the orphanage is doing please visit their website. And for anyone who feel they want to share a bit of his or her own with these kids, feel free to make a contribution (simply click on the above right on their site). Also a newspaper just wrote a story about Sean’s orphanage you can read here

Bless,

Janno.

Did-you-know-that:

  • The boys all LOVE Jackie Chan (‘tjiki tjen’). This ignited the crazy idea in Jenny’s head to write the Jackie Chan foundation a letter. To their suprise they got a response and recently Jenny met with the European representatives of the foundation, that now wants to start supporting their educational programme. The only question on the mind of all the boys is ‘When is Jackie Chan coming????!?’ (accompanied with all kind of kung fu moves)
  • At the end of each schoolterm Sean and Jenny take the best students of their class out for a free buffet lunch. It is hard to imagine just how much excitement this brings to the boys. Even harder to imagine the quantities with which the little boys pile up their plates. To the right a photo of the youngest student Emmanuela piling up his plate just like the older boys and he ate every bit of it. Take a moment to read the heart-touching story of this young bright one here.
  • in search of Rwanda…

    I tried to have some of the boys point out their country on a giant map of Africa painted on the wall, the closest they got was Cameroon, until one of the brighter boys managed to find the little country they are actually living in.

  • Cooking for over 100 boys every day ain’t peanuts. The center’s cook came in as a skinny guy, but rearing in a giant maize meal pan works on your muscles as the picture shows.

Your verse-of-the-day you can find here

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About Janno

A young development worker in Africa
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