On Saturday I was at Scripture Union's Rwandan Headquarters in Kigali to help run a one day bible camp. The theme was "The Importance of Families" with an emphasis on being a positive influence and encouraging one another. The camp was to run from nine o,clock until 4.00pm and as it had taken me an hour and a half to get there earlier in the week, I decided to make an early start.
Arriving with 15 minutes to spare, there were a couple of other Sunday School teachers but no children. Two girls arrived and another couple of adults but at 9.00am, that was it. Gradually a few others arrived but not the one hundred or so children I had been told to expect. Apparently, there were a few transport problems so we found some skipping ropes and balls to keep the children amused in the meantime.
By around 10h00 two bus loads of children had arrived and we were able to collect the ropes and balls and get started with some gentle exercises, conducted in English by one of the teachers. This is a good way for the children to learn the language and appears to be the way daily assemblies start in many Rwandan schools. By the time we had finished another group had arrived with their teachers and we went inside to welcome everybody and sing some choruses. These were led by children from the various churches, mostly in Kinyarwanda and followed by prayer, again led by individual children, who are much more accustomed to praying aloud then their peers in Scotland.
The children then listened to the General Secretary of S U talk for around 30 minutes about families and the sadness at this time of the year. One of the Sunday school teachers was giving me and a couple of German volunteers a rough translation of what was being said. Given that some of the children were as young as five or six I thought they sat very well.
Around an hour behind schedule we broke into three or four groups. I was to lead the youngest children age five to eight with the help of an interpreter. We sat on the grass near the main building which accommodates a very small bookshop, the S U offices and a library with internet facilities.Preparing the lesson before hand had been quite a challenge, as I did not know anything about the children or their family circumstances. As the hour progressed it was obvious that some of the children came from "privileged " backgrounds,. They went to private schools where the lessons are conducted in English and seemed to speak English at home. However, others live in much more unfortunate circumstances and are fed daily through a programme run by S U. The children coloured in some pictures and I taught them a song to reinforce the lesson. By this time it was one o'clock and the children were getting hungry.
While we waited for the older groups to finish, they amused themselves and I helped the other teachers dish up the meal of rice with a vegetable gravy, chips, cabbage and carrot coleslaw, a piece of tomato and a liver brochette. The teachers ate the same meal and it was very tasty. The older children form a long line and the food is passed from the serving area along the chain to the hungry mouths at the other end.
The children amused themselves again while the teachers ate their meals and then it was time to come together again and sum up. Our group sang the song they had learned about being special because God loves us and an older group presented a sketch about the difference it can make in a family when the members show kindness,love, joyfulness, encouragement, peacefulness etc. A bottle of juice and some sweets rounded up the day and then it was time to leave. As I was walking along the road to catch a taxi-bus, one of the girls joined me. She is one of the youngsters who has been encouraged to go back to school funded, indirecty, through S U, comes to their morning bible club and is then given a meal at lunchtime. She told me she was thirteen years old, in primary 5, lived with her brothers, her family was not good but, she loved this Jesus.