At the age of 8, when asked what his father's occupation is, Kaka responds, "to beat me." In the 8 short years of his life this child, too small to defend himself, knows his father only by the beatings he has received. It is written all over his face, scars mark his left eye and cheek. Though the scars may never fade from his small face, there is now something else that will not fade either.
Les Enfants de Dieu (EDD) is a rehabilitation center for 126 street boys, all brought from the streets where they were left to fend for themselves. These boys as young as 7 have spent their days and nights searching for food, money and shelter with no help from anyone on the streets of Kigali. They leave home in hopes of finding money growing on trees in the big city, some are orphans, many have been abused but one thing they all are is children. They all deserve a life free from struggle and pain.
Many boys come to the center with broken spirits, lots struggle with addiction problems. Les Enfants de Dieu becomes a home, a family, and a second chance at childhood. Going from living a life of free-will on the streets and coming to the center where there are rules can be a rough transition for some. Kaka I was told tried to run away many times, there are others who have gone and never come back, but for those who stay the impact is obvious.
All day long at the center you hear laughing and screaming; constant chatter where there is hardly a moment of calm, that is how it should be. These 126 boys no longer have to worry where their next meal is coming from, they can focus on school and more importantly who won last night's football match. They run and jump and play, sometimes they fight, but what brothers don't? They perfect their football skills and dance to all the latest hits. Some write raps about life on the streets, as they can never forget where they've come from, but now at least they can share it with their 125 brothers and go to bed knowing they're safe. They can just be kids.
And Kaka is now working hard on reading and writing, his letters are starting to take shape. He rarely stops to stand still, always in motion with a big toothy grin pasted on his face. EDD has given Kaka back his childhood, and though his scars will remain his smile outshines them all!