Crafting Chaos

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Every Monday I teach from 9:45-11:25 and then return to the convent to get ready for my motorcycle ride to the orphanage. Since I am still learning the ropes I prefer to wear pants so I have to go home to change. Rwandan women, however, seem to have no problem hopping on the back of motos in skirts so I’ll have to give it a try one of these days. I use the same moto driver every time and he is very nice, and a safe driver, but always late. This wouldn’t bother me so much except for the fact that there is a very small window of time when I can leave before the morning shift of primary school finishes. The kids are very cute but it’s overwhelming when there are 30 kids surrounding you as you climb on the moto and then they run behind me when we leave. It is kind of cute but also kind of scary as I have visions of one of the kids chasing us grabbing my backpack or foot and managing to pull me off the moto. Once we escape the mobs of children it is actually a pretty peaceful drive down to the orphanage although I would prefer a visor for my helmet. I understand that Peace Corps is operating under the constraints of a budget crisis but if they understood how many bugs fly into your face on a motorcycle ride then maybe they would reconsider the lack of visors.

This last Monday I spent the afternoon playing volleyball with some of the older girls. It was really fun but we did not have an ideal place to play. There is a small soccer field at the top of a very steep hill that would be fine for more experienced players but considering many of the girls have no control, and can easily send the ball flying 20 feet in every direction, we spent a lot of time chasing the ball down the hill. At the bottom of this hill there is a wall and then the kid’s dormitories below. The first time we lost the ball one of the little boys, who had just woken up from his nap, was trying to throw the ball over the wall to us. After about 10 failed attempts and lots of laughter one of the girls climbed under the tin roof and shimmied down the wall. This process was repeated at least every few minutes since the girls enjoy swinging their arms like baseball bats to pass a ball. I have my work cut out for me! It was also really sunny and I have learned a painful lesson to always carry sunscreen with me. I forgot the cardinal rule of having a pasty-white complexion: thou shall always be prepared with sunscreen, especially whilst living in Africa.

After volleyball we went inside to work on a craft project. Viola, a volunteer from Poland, is usually the only person in charge of crafts and I cannot imagine how difficult that task would be with only one person! We had about 20 kids and the project involved colored paper, stickers, scissors and glue. It was absolute chaos. I was in charge of the little kids table (ages 3-5) so I had five kiddos to manage. There was a decent amount of drama like children attempting to eat glue, trying to cut their own hair or their neighbor’s hair, crying over stolen paper, and just general chaos that ensues when you do art projects with a large group of children.

While the little kiddos worked I taught the older kids how to make paper hearts like my mom once taught me. It sometimes hits me when I am playing with the kids that they might never have parents to teach them little things like cutting hearts out of paper. I have so many fond memories from my childhood like warm towels after a bath and kisses and stories before bed, but when an orphanage has 60 kids to take care of some of the little things are simply not feasible. It breaks my heart that they will miss out on that special relationship between a parent and a child but I can take comfort in the fact that they are being raised in a loving environment with caring people to watch over them. Being raised in the orphanage will also afford them opportunities that many children in rural Rwanda will never have access to. They will always have money for school, three guaranteed meals a day, and small luxuries like access to a library, craft time, and occasional gifts from their sponsors in America. That being said, it is probably a good thing for me that adoption from Rwanda is currently not possible or else I would most likely come home after two years as a mother.Here are some photos from our crafting adventures:

Fashionable football attire 🙂

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