Gavin Sword KF9, Rwanda
Children are adaptable – this is what I have learned since my first post on our kids’ experience in Rwanda. Christian and Savilla are different people than when we arrived and they have become accustomed to life in Rwanda. Cold baths are met with resignation if not acceptance. They now get excited when they see bugs and like to pick them up and give them names. And the mosquito nets are cool now, like a special fort (for my son) or a princess’ veil (for my daughter). This was NOT how they were in our first few weeks here. It is time for them to fly home next week and they are genuinely sad to know this.
No longer are they seen as outsiders – they have been accepted as Rwandans who just don’t speak the language that well. It seems young children communicate mostly through playing, singing and pretending. To be sure, our children are not totally ‘locals’ – there are different socioeconomic levels here in Rwanda – more pronounced than in the West by far. But in their own milieu they are fitting in with ease. It is wonderful to see.
As for being adopted, they now both understand that this is where they came from. They love to visit the orphanage where we got them and each time we go they pick out things of theirs that they would like to give to the children there. Their generosity is heartwarming. Indeed, they keep asking if they can bring home a brother and sister and frankly don’t understand the hold up on our end. Questions like this are becoming quite common, which I suppose is normal for 4 year-olds. Additional siblings from the orphanage is not the only new topic with endless questions. Other, more metaphysical issues have arisen as well.
Rwanda is a decidedly Christian country and this has not been lost on them. They have started speaking more about Jesus and God and Heaven and “going down to the fire” and are asking some rather deep questions about who will be going where when they die and why. (Also, which specific infractions are to be avoided) This is new territory for me as a parent but we are rolling with it by answering questions with questions. It’s working for now…
For their part, they have endured church services that last longer than 2 hours with nary a complaint. They seem to really love the singing and general rejoicing of the whole scene. This, in bleacher-type seats with no “children’s time” to speak of – amazing, really. Yes, our Rwandan / Canadian / American children have adapted amazingly well and as a parent, I’m very proud of them.
I will relate this to microfinance and Kiva in this way – there is no way I would be here, knee-deep in Rwandan culture without this opportunity. So, I am grateful to Kiva and the good work that my MFI, Vision Finance Company is doing – it made it possible for us to be here with a larger purpose – beyond tourism. This experience has been life changing for my children and for us as a family and for that I am truly grateful. I highly recommend the Kiva Fellow Program to anyone interested in learning more about microfinance, experiencing different cultures and helping to alleviate poverty around the world.
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