Bringing cross-cultures together through activities


In October 2018 I took my family over to Rwanda for my wedding. This included my mum and dad, sister Jayne and Brother-in-law Colin, and my 2 nephews Ben (13yrs) and Luke (18yrs). My Friend Kim also came over from America to join us and be bridesmaid. But before all the wedding excitement we had a few days planned to introduce them to Kigali city, including a visit to Les Enfants De Dieu, home and school for street boys. Recent Rwanda governmental policy is that no child should be on the street and should be placed within a family home, with a ban on orphanages. EDD continue because no stay is now long term and their goal is to rehabilitate and habituate children back into family living within two years.

After a few hours rest after their overnight flight we ventured into and fairly straight out of the Kimironko market because it was so hot and cramped full of craft sellers, shoe sellers and clothes makers. Whilst mum was in her element, I had already been a number of times and the others found it just too hot and overwhelming.

Luke was already struggling with tiredness and heat and so stayed back at the apartment. But still feeling unwell he drove himself out of bed after lunch to visit Les Enfants De Dieu (EDD) because it had been planned that here he would teach the boys some football and play a game with them.

I had previously visited the centre and provided an art lesson for the boys one weekend. Before this visit I had felt that there was little impact I could have on these childrens lives, but they seemed eager to receive me and facilitated me well with translators. But I was soon taught that just by coming and giving them your time to do something with them gives them a sense that their existence is important to somebody, that they are worth somebodies time for. So it was important to me that my family weren’t there just to spectate and treat them like animals in a zoo but we were there to make them feel we cared about them and wanted to interact with them, to teach them something new. And so I ensured my family came equipped with activities to provide them with.

Being Sunday afternoon there were no classes and so the children were available to participate in the activities. Manager Charles generously came away from his family to greet my family and tell them in his usual passionate way about the school; what they had achieved and hoped to achieve in the future.

I am sure he could have to talked to us all day about EDD which tells me why it is such a success; to have such a passionate and devoted leader. Charles has now become a friend of mine and Manzi, so much so he later attended our wedding and did a reading for me.

With much thanks to Jean-Claude who assisted and translated for us we then spilt up into groups for the different activities. My soon to be husband also assisted the boys in translated and enthusiastically joined in the game of rugby. My mum had come prepared with some crafts to do quietly in the art room while Ben brought a rugby ball to play with and Luke came to play football.

Initially football was the most popular but we soon dispersed the boys into more equal groups. The boys eagerly got all their mismatched football boots and started to dress themselves with any odd boot that might fit them. I believe the rule was that if they could not find a football boot that fit then they would have to play rugby or do crafts. This did not seem to upset them too much and plenty of young boys headed back to my mum, with my dad and Charles assisting, in the art room.

The first issue they had not addressed yet was where the football was that they were going to play with. It took them some time to realise but soon rushed off to seek one out.

In the meantime Ben had gathered some interest in his rugby as he started teaching them how to throw the ball.

It was not long before a game had started behind the trees while the mammoth football game commenced on the main field with Luke and his dad joining in.

I ventured around the activities to see how they were all going, taking photos as I went. I found the boys watching intently to what my mum was showing them as she tried to teach them how to make friendship bracelets. She was a little fast and engrossed in her task but my dad went into teacher mode and copied my mum above her and animated them clearly what to do, and so that the whole room of boys could see. The boys were engrossed and concentrated so hard.