Thanks to our wonderful friends at Cricket Without Boundaries - a U.K. charity that is promoting HIV/AIDS awareness while also working to expand the reach of cricket in Rwanda – we received a very special guest on Tuesday.

On Monday night I received a call from Lee Booth, one of the leaders of CWB and a great supporter of our program. Lee informed me that among their team of visitors from the U.K. this week was the Duchess of Rutland and he wanted to bring her to the Rwandan Orphans Project so she could see the work we are doing with children.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon. I’m walking out of a classroom when I see a taxi rolling through our gate. Not some fancy taxi, mind you, but one of the typical Rwandan taxis; scratched and dented, a missing headlight and, judging by how it took the bumps in our driveway, no shock-absorbers. Out of the car stept four people in CWB T-shirts and there was Her Grace, with no airs or graces. Just a woman in a CWB shirt, sport shorts and cool sunglasses. I liked her already.

During her visit I told her all about the history of the ROP, where we are today and where we hope to be in the future. She was keenly interested in all aspects of our program, from how we run the organization internationally to the efficiency and technology behind the volcanic stone stove in our kitchen. She seemed genuinely interested in future of the ROP, asking questions covering everything from setting up a branch of the ROP in the U.K. to inquiring about in what capacity and for how long Jenny and I plan to be at the core of the organization. She gave us all sorts of advice on how we can move forward.

Aside from her impressive knowledge concerning charities and her desire to help the ROP grow as a program, I was hugely impressed with just how down to earth she was. Before she left she gave us a huge suitcase full of toys, balls, school supplies and other items for the kids. She also left a book that she has written about her home, Belvoir Castle, detailing its history and the history of her family that has occupied it for generations. After she had departed we explained who she was to the staff, and then we showed them the book. They were shocked to see where she came from, and even more surprised that this woman, who lived in that castle, was so normal. Celestin, the director, even mentioned that he couldn’t believe that she rolled up in an old taxi.

If Your Grace happens to read this post, we thank you so very much for paying us a visit and for being so interested in the work we are doing. We really hope we can build on our new-found friendship so that we may find ways to work together for the benefit of our children.

Thanks for reading.

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Sean Jones

Sean Jones is the coordinator at the ROP Center and has been working at with the children in Kigali since January 2010.

2 comments

  • I think it’s good to close down the orphanages that provide very poor care to their children, and there are many of those around the country. I also think it’s good that they try to place children who are in orphanages with their extended relatives or adoptive families. That being said, this is still a country that is mostly in extreme poverty and most relatives cannot afford to take care of children who are not their own when they struggle to take care of their own. For us, well we are a center for street children, not an alone. Our mission to to find children on the streets, educate them, make them healthy and help them get rid of their bad street habits, all while searching for their families and rebuilding the relationships between a child and his parents. The goal is always to reunite them with their families within a year or two, which is different from orphanage programs that commit to keeping a child until he is 18 years old.

    I hope that explains it a bit. Thanks for reading our blog.

    Sean

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  • Albert Barlow Albert Barlow 14 May

    What do you think of the plans to place all children now in orphanages in homes in Rwanda by 2015?
    Is this something that can be done?

    I have heard that an average of 70% of the kids in orphanages in Rwanda are abandoned by parents that can’t care for them. Apparently the government thinks it better for the kids and more economical to support placing these kids in new homes or supporting the reunification of the families.

    The government threatening to close orphanages is a curious play and I am interested in your thoughts.

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