I’ve been reading since I was 8 years old. When my parents divorced, reading and dancing became the only activities in which I was truly comfortable since they didn’t require me to interact with other children. Thursdays became my favorite day because we had one hour of silent reading at school. Within that hour, I immersed myself in fairytales like Cinderella and other stories like “Hazel The Guinea Pig.” Ever since then, I have tried as much as I can to share the joy of reading with anyone I can find, and it was more than a pleasure to donate books to Love the Kids Foundation.
Founded by Jean Claude Muhire, Love the Kids Foundation looks after socially and economically disadvantaged children. Jean Claude worked in orphanages before the Rwandan government decided to close most of them. That influenced him to come up with a foundation that helped abandoned kids. I became acquainted with the organization because Jean Claude was my friend on Facebook. I used to see his posts about how the children, ages 7 to 17, were excelling in sports, other forms of entertainment like gymnastics and dancing and most importantly academics. I reached out to Jean Claude to see how I could help the foundation and that was when he referred me to the foundation’s website. The website had the foundation’s objectives, and one of them was to improve the children’s literacy. I decided to raise books so that I could contribute to the children’s literacy by promoting a reading culture. As a bookworm, it was not easy to part with my old battered copies of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but my love for sharing reading with the others overcame my selfish need to keep the books for myself. I didn’t involve a lot of people. I shared my project with a few people including my SHE-CAN mentor Caroline Donahue who sent books all the way from the U.S. One friend I shared the project with got around 50 books from his high school alma mater, and altogether we donated around 90 books.
As a team of five people, we visited the children on May 13. At the foundation’s headquarters we got to meet and interact with the kids, even if it was just for 40 minutes, since the kids had to go home. Most of them lived far from the headquarters. We had fun answering their questions that ranged from our career dreams to favorite Rwandan singers. We also got to hear the children’s aspirations, and it was amazing to see that the children had hope and the courage to work hard to achieve them despite the difficulties they still face like extreme poverty. Moreover, one of the members in my team, a Bridge to Rwanda scholar, agreed to bring other scholars every Saturday to the foundation’s headquarters to read to the children and to teach them English. I left the place feeling inspired by the children’s enthusiasm about the following Saturday where they would get to read the books. Their eyes carried strength, hope and determination.
I look forward to working more with Love the Kids Foundation. I hope to visit at least once a month to make sure that they’re benefiting as much as they can from the books. I hope to convince the other SHE-CAN candidates to commit their time to helping these children with their English and to promote a reading culture. I’m hopeful it will make a huge difference in the children’s literacy.