Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dreams Realized.

 I first came to Rwanda four years ago, a wide-eyed, naive 18 year-old who felt a strong desire to return to Africa.  On that first trip, with an international volunteer service I was placed at Les Enfant de Dieu and so my long-term, long-distance relationship with the center began.  During my time there, another volunteer and myself discovered a stockpile of books, markers and other supplies that had been donated to the center; most of these good were inaccessible to the boys and kept behind lock and key--they were being hoarded more or less.  This hoarding is a phenomenon I have seen time and time again, the boys will collect what seem to be the most arbitrary objects (bottle caps, pieces of plastic, broken pens) and they guard them with their lives.  I think this stems from coming from so little that anything and everything is valuable and they do not want to let it go or lose it.

Anyway, the other volunteer and myself wanted the boys to be able to access the books and other supplies and so we developed a sort of cataloging and check-out process that we hoped to be a library.  We spent hours color-coding flash cards and making sets of markers and colored pencils.  We were able to get the boys more access to things and hopefully more than anything we got the ball rolling for a future library. 

After I returned to the states I would sit in class and dream of ways I could find money to build a library complete with shelves and couches, a fun place the boys could spend time.  When I returned in 2011, the boys were able to check-out books from the teachers room and volunteers would get out markers and games from the social workers office.

As my time was ending, there were plans to wall-in and turn the old dinning hall into a library.  Well, I am thrilled to report that today, EDD has a fully-functioning library.  The boys have access to hundreds of books, games, and art supplies.  It is currently run by the volunteers, but I am hoping to talk to the staff about turning over the keys to the boys and empowering them to run it themselves.  A small seed was planted four years ago and today it has become fully realized. 

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