Once again, with another new year comes the annual back to school preparations: fees to pay, uniforms and books to buy, not to mention pens, pencils and geometry sets. Added to that, this year it looks as if Peter and Nsabire are heading on to secondary school and higher fees, bigger uniforms and more books.
This term, our children have been issued with new school bags as well. This was planned anyway, but when one of them didn't receive an end of term report for losing a school book, we thought the bags were probably not before time. Along with the bags came new shoes. Children the world over are all the same in this department. No sooner than you have found a pair they like, the cherubim grow out of them. But 'new' and 'shoes' should be used together with caution in Africa. There is a not insignificant industry behind the market stalls renovating second-hand shoes and returning them to more or less original condition. For anyone but the very wealthy, 'new shoes' are impractically expensive.
We are grateful to Alphonsine at the Protestant Council who gave up her time to accompany our Steven to kit the children out before Christmas. Looking after a dozen children is no easy task at the best of times but keeping order in the heat and tightly spaced stalls of Nyamirambo market requires a particularly firm maternal hand. She and Steven did very well.
So we start another year with high hopes of what it will bring for the children and the project. Let's hope the bags last as long as the year does.