Back in May we held a Celebration for Africa Day of the Child. During the ceremony one of our boys, Lucky, read a poem to the audience. Lucky is one of our boys who has been living at the ROP Center for many years. This is his final year with us as he is graduating from secondary school in December. He is the Center’s most talented performer, having written and performed many poems and songs about the lives of street children, songs that the children and staff request at virtually every celebration we have.

Spending time at the Rwandan Orphans Project was honestly a great experience and one which I will never forget. A fulfilling and eye opening time.

About ten days ago we were informed that our Rwandan Orphans Project Center would be hosting an event for the government in Kicukiro District to celebrate the pan-African holiday, the International Day of the African Child. This surprised us because ten days is not very much time to prepare for such an event. We knew we had a challenge ahead of us, but we were up to it.

It’s been pretty hectic here the last few weeks, what with Tamsin’s whirlwind (too short!) visit, the arrival of Sean’s brother Ryan, and me starting to write stories for UNICEF, so I haven’t had much of a chance to write anything. Although this happened a few weeks ago, I still wanted to tell you about it.

Yesterday was one of those days I really look forward to. Last year I started a program of rewarding our top students from each grade at the Rwandan Orphans Project by taking them for a big buffet lunch at a nice restaurant, and for the boys who won it this term, yesterday was the day for treating them.

The Rwandan Orphans Project is a busy place. Providing care, guidance and education for nearly one hundred children aged just five years to eighteen years old keeps our staff incredibly busy and, to be honest, our small organization cannot afford to hire all of the staff we need. Thankfully, we sometimes benefit from the efforts of volunteers and visitors who come from different places and backgrounds to give us a hand.

We all remember recess, that wonderful time we couldn’t wait for when we could temporarily forget about listening to our teachers, taking notes and waiting to go outside to play. Well it’s no different at the Rwandan Orphans Project’s school. Every day at 10 o’clock the Commissioner of Education – the boy chosen by his peers to assist the teachers – blows his whistle and within seconds children begin fleeing their classrooms.

Most of us take airplanes for granted. For some, like me, they are fascinating. For others they are simply another form of transportation. But for all of us they are commonplace. Airports and airplanes, ho-hum.

Amusa is one of our youngest boys, aged around five we think. Like so many of the boys, we don’t know his real age or when his birthday is. All we know is that his parents are dead and he is on his own. All the rest is guess work based on his size and little snippets he can remember. Although we can’t even trust his memory: when he first arrived he told us that his parents died in the 1994 genocide, a story he probably adopted from older street children he met of whom this was true.

This is Emmanuel, a fiery, precocious 11 year old. Or maybe he’s 12. Probably though, he’s only ten years old, judging by his size. You see, Emmanuel doesn’t know how old he is. He doesn’t know the year he was born, and if you ask him which day, his answer will be January 1st. Coincidentally that is the same birthday as many of the children staying at the Rwandan Orphans Project Center. Actually it’s not a coincidence at all, because Emmanuel is not alone in not knowing his actual birthday, so like many others he simply tells people he was born on January 1st.

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