Lasting Change

By Alexa
Gustavus Trip Participant

I bathe two year old Rumgero. He takes it upon himself to scoop water on his head and scrub with a bar of soap. I hold him as he air dries and proceed to cover him in Vaseline. I dress him. He clings to me, one hand in his mouth, the other twisted in my hair. Cecile takes him from me, and I follow her. As we go about our tasks, she sounds out word after word in Kinyarwanda. I share the English equivalent. I remember very few words, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the exchange, the effort, the care, that brings the smile I see on her face so often. As I sweep, bent down, like they do, Cecile gives me two thumbs up, saying, “murakoze, murakoze” (thank you, thank you). I don’t know that I’ve seen someone happier. Lunch comes. The children sit on a mat, offering to share their food. We teach them colors. The mothers sit attentively, eager to learn with the children. They love to crowd around as we read Franklin. Excitedly, they shout out “Futbol,” a recognizable word. My legs go numb. Seven year old Boyi sits in my lap. I’m convinced he’s thinking he’s still a little boy. The mothers sit, while the children nap, soaking in all the English phrases we introduce them to. Mostly, they enjoy browsing the Kinyarawanda/ English lists we gave them, occasionally asking for pronunciations. This is a typical day at PEFA.

We came to PEFA not only to play and clean, but to provide service that lasts long after we leave. The reality is, these children live in dirty, unhealthy conditions. There are many changes we see necessary to ensure the well being of the children. Frustration comes when we cannot meet all the needs. Today was a huge encouragement to our team. We have been preparing to provide training for the three mothers. Today was the day. We know they love the kids and have their best interest in mind. Sadly, they do not have the proper education to take necessary measures to ensure the well being of the children. We were able to help them in this area. We educated them on the existence of germs and how they can harm the body. As we demonstrated the hand washing process, I could sense the mothers were receiving the information well. That was confirmed when Annonciata recited everything we told her, almost word for word. Everything inside me was bursting with excitement. I could not believe it; every little detail was remembered. They listened. They soaked it in. They cared. As I looked around, my teammates were smiling, as well. That moment, I will not forget. This will have a lasting impact. In that, I have confidence. We can’t give everything we want to. We can’t fix everything we want to. But we can do some. We can do our part, and rest in the assurance that God has control.