Pre-chewed Gum Delight


Here is a little story from my life to give you a glimpse into dealing with primary school children here. I wrote in second person so hopefully you can really get into the story. Enjoy! 🙂


You are walking down the dirt road to your compound, a gaggle of children surrounding you, hanging off your arms, examining every inch of your clothing, and fighting tooth and nail to connect their tiny sweaty hands with your body. Two available hands does not mean you hold hands with only two children, for once your hand is occupied they simply continue to reach out and hold onto your wrist and arm until you have three children clinging to you on each side. Cute? Sure is. Also annoying? You bet. Because with this adoration comes the barrage of constant questioning and begging. “Akabonbon, ndashaka bonbon.” They beg you for candy with a perseverant desperation and tone unmatched by any other event in your life. The sea of blue and khaki uniforms is composed of children stunted in every language they study yet fluent in the universal language of whining. You try your best to deflect the questions by asking every child their name and age, and yet it is not sufficient to distract them from their mission. It all comes back to the candy. You insist you have no candy to share, and they pounce on you in a moment of weakness. The crowd viciously points out that you do, indeed, for the first time in your service, have a piece of gum in your mouth while out in public. Shouting ensues and your defense is shattered. Feeling a bit persnickety you reach into your mouth and grab the piece of pre-chewed mint gum and raise it high in the dusty African air for all to see. You declare in Kinyarwanda that this is all you have. This one measly piece of gum that cannot possibly be shared. The leader of the child gang is thrust to the center of the drama circle to investigate your evidence. In a matter of seconds you watch in horror as his small hand descends upon yours and with a look of sheer determination and glee his nimble fingers pluck the gum from yours. In the blink of an eye he is now chewing your mint gum, strutting proudly down the road after an injection of swagger that apparently comes from eating the white girl’s gum. Bon appétit, young one, you win this round.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s