By all accounts this past Christmas was the best we’ve ever had at the Rwandan Orphans Project, but to be honest we entered the month of December unsure of whether or not we were going to be able to give our boys any celebration at all.

Our boys love listening to the radio. In fact if you walked around the ROP Center you’d probably hear the sound of at least three radios coming from different directions. In Rwanda radios are cheap and that means they are everywhere, and for some reason I still cannot explain why their owners always have to have them at full volume, even if they’re right next to their ear.

As you may have read previously the ROP boys are pretty nimble when it comes to things of a dancing, acrobatic or capoeira nature. Give them some music or even just a bit of free-time, and they will be dancing, flipping and rolling around the ROP centre. For a time, we had a professional capoeira teacher coming in once a week to teach the kids, but that has unfortunately ground to a halt. Besides these now abandoned lessons, the boys have had very little instruction on how to perform the amazing tricks they do, and we’ve always been a bit puzzled at where they picked it up. Other than the radio, Rwanda TV and the odd film, they don’t have too much access to the outside world. But they certainly have picked up some phenomenal skills from somewhere.

This summer something amazing happened at the ROP – the boys learnt to swim! A Canadian NGO called Koga International contacted us back at the beginning of the year, asking if they could fly some qualified swimming coaches over to Rwanda, pay for the hire of a swimming pool and all transport costs and teach all of our 100 children how to swim.

As the last of our engineer friends depart Rwanda we want to say a huge thank you to the whole Engineers Without Borders team for their hard work!

Every June 16th Africa celebrates the International Day of the African Child, a day for people within the continent celebrate and honor children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Last year we were honored when the government ask us to host their celebration at the ROP Center.

People often ask me what is the most difficult thing about running an orphanage. Well, to be honest there is no lack of challenges and frustrations, but for me the most difficult challenge is dealing with runaways.

The ROP has come a long way since it was little more than a warehouse where street children and orphans took shelter. We’ve been able to do this only because of the kindness and generosity of people like you.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how much progress the Rwandan Orphans Project has made in just the last couple of years. The reason I bring this up is because we are approaching the second anniversary of the Center’s move from the dark, dank warehouse that we had called home for several years to our wonderful current home on the outskirts of Kigali.

The ROP boys are very good at entertaining and organising themselves. We already have two football teams, a volleyball team, two choirs and a dance troupe. Now I can proudly introduce to you the ROP’s newest group – the ROP Capoeria Team.

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