Written by Lizzie.
Today was another early day. The day began with breakfast at 6, followed by everyone going to the bathroom as many times as possible before getting on the road to Kageyo — a 3 hour ride. For those of you that have not read Connie’s infamous Kageyo bathroom post, it’s a must read to explain exactly what we were preparing ourselves for. We arrived in Kageyo around 10:30, and after braving the bathroom, I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed, “Now I’m African!” Not as bad as I thought it would be. Enough bathroom talk.
All nine of us were matched with a teacher most closely to what we teach. I was paired with Paul who teaches P6 English just like I do, and who also happens to be the Africa New Life photographer. I walked in to him already in a lesson on active and passive voice. It is amazing to see how much these teachers can do with so little. I watched him write a sample sentence on the board, and his students chanted the rules that he had taught them. Even though they don’t have a “copy of notes” from the teacher or textbooks to reference at home, these students are taught in a way that the concepts are easily remembered and studied. He finished with his part of the lesson, and invited me to teach. It’s always a little scary to get in front a class for the first time, but add to it that English is their second language, and I am a muzungu (white person). The students giggled as I went to the front of the room, and I began with helping verbs. I wrote them on the board just as I teach my students, and we counted them together to see that we had all 23. Then I had them open their notebooks to write a sentence in passive voice. When they finished, I had them switch with a neighbor to convert their sentences to active. They stared at me blankly. Was I being clear? Could they understand my English? No, this method is just so foreign to them, they weren’t sure I was being serious. Paul ran to get his camera, and took hundreds of photos while I gave the lesson. Afterwards he thanked me over and over again for teaching him that method. He told me he would be using it soon. Who would have thought something so small could have meant so much to him?
After a quick lunch in the Africa New Life Sponsorship Office, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the women from the office, Janet. I began asking her lots of questions about Olga, the child I sponsor, who I knew I would get to see later that afternoon. But little did I know, she was already there! I quickly went outside to meet her, and as I glimpsed her sweet face, she began running towards me. She jumped into my arms and I was instantly crying. To explain the love that I immediately felt for that child would be impossible. From that moment on, she was by my side and holding my hand. Olga is 6 years old and in Top class (Kindergarten).
We all loaded into the bus, and first went to Carol’s home visit. Olga sat by my side and smiled from ear to ear as we watched Carol and Juliette’s family have such a sweet first visit. Then we were off to Olga’s home. She was so excited to show it to me. I was greeted by Olga’s grandmother and grandfather with open arms. Her family came from Tanzania, and she was born shortly after. Her grandparents let me know they came with nothing, but because of the help of Africa New Life, they are born again Christians, involved with their church, her aunt has just completed S6 (12th grade) and is headed to university. So exciting for them! Love to hear these stories of how ANLM is able to turn lives around. As we continued to talk, her grandfather spoke up and told me: they had no hope before being here. They wouldn’t make it without me. They have a reason to live because of my help. I was speechless and in tears. I feel like I do so little, and my small contribution for their family helps them so much.
It was unbelievably hard to say goodbye to Olga. I did not want to let go of her. If I could, I would have kidnapped her and brought her back to Texas with me. As I was getting into the bus, they let me know she had to go back to school for choir. So I got to have one more bus ride with her! We held hands, sang songs, and took a couple of selfies. Then it was time to say goodbye for real.
As we began our trek back to Kigali, Marilyn let me in on a little secret. Olga didn’t have choir practice. They just found a tricky way to let us have a few more minutes together. Emotional overload. I am beyond thankful that the Lord blessed me with this trip, and seeing Olga today is easily the best part.