DAY 18 – GAHIMA AGAPE SCHOOL

Today was Umuganda, the one Saturday in every month when Rwandans must give up 3 hours in the morning to clean and clear public spaces. We were exempt, so a leisurely breakfast (we tried to ignore the waiter determined to clear up around us as we ate) and a sit in the gardens, was a very pleasant way to spend the morning.

At 2pm we were due to visit the Gahima Agape School where we have a number of sponsored children. We were ready and waiting in good time, Joff and Pauline were excited at the thought of finally meeting their sponsored children, Asifiwe, the pastor who has been accompanying us, arrived to inform us we were waiting for Bishop Josias (retired) to arrive from Kigali, apparently he was accompanying us together with Bishop Emmanuel. Eventually, after a quick stop to see the site of the new Gahima Agape nursery/primary school currently being built, we arrived at Gahima Agape senior school. The marquee was up, the trees were decorated, and the entire school was seated on benches under the trees. Two Bishops and three bazungu obviously merit some effort.

After being treated to song and traditional dance (Pauline reluctantly took one for the team), the inevitable speeches (mercifully short) and a presentation of gifts, we were processed off across the compound, it turned out Bishop Josias was there to officially open a new girls dormitory. We also saw the new ‘girls room’ now a requirement in all Rwandan schools, a safe space for teenage girls to wash, change their clothes or rest when the need arises.

      

Ribbon cut, prayers said and it was time to meet the children. As we walked back we were delighted to see the new bathrooms and toilets erected with funds from CHI, these were required to enable the school to reopen after Covid. The ‘bathrooms’ consisted of a small square box with a roof and door, the bare cemented walls were unpainted and no light filtered in once the door was closed. They may have satisfied the requirement but we doubt the girls will be singing their praises. We made a couple of suggestions for improvements but are not holding our breath.

                 

Then, as the Bishops left, it was time to meet the students. First we had to C..H..I so rather than sit at the table prepared for us we took seats among the students to watch the presentation slide which had been prepared. Three of the students read poems and a speech and then it was our turn .

    

Determined to give the students a chance to relax with us we led them out under the tree where we finally had the opportunity to move among them and chat. Some had very little English but others spoke well and were thrilled to have the opportunity to practice.  They all wanted to pass messages to their sponsors telling them they loved them and prayed for them, we were constantly asked to show them pictures of their sponsors, they couldn’t understand why we didn’t have them available. The students were clean, smart and intelligent, they are starting their national exams next week so please pray they will all be successful.

Having overrun the schedule by about 2 hours we made it back to the hotel where the Bishops were waiting for us to join them for dinner. A pleasant  evening and all in all a successful day.