The good news and the bad


Nyamirambo is a district on the south side of Kigali known for its Muslims and its poverty. The centre boasts an impressive mosque and a bustling main street usually busy with taxi-buses making their way to and from the top of the hill.

Away from the centre, the area becomes rural and much poorer. Since we last saw it, the Chinese have upgraded two of the larger tracks to good asphalt, but little else has changed. Children still run around in bare feet with their home-made toys. One child trots past us deftly guiding the circular lid of a plastic container with a flattened water bottle.

On foot, we are doing a grand tour of Nyamirambo to make contact with our project children. This is still term time so the obvious place to find them is at school. We choose two schools to visit. These two get us the most children and given the walking distance between them, in thirty-odd degrees of muggy heat is probably as much as we will be capable of in the day.

At our first port of call our children are presented with glowing reports. So glowing in fact that extra coaching is suggested for young Moussa who is in his final primary year. This year he will sit his national exams to decide which secondary school he will go to. When talking to the teachers another child is mentioned in the hope of sponsorship.

Then a long trek up to the head of the valley to our next school where Elija and his sister, Alice, attend. It is the end of the school day and we are taken further down the track to where the pair live with their mother. The last time we met Mama Elija she was running her market stall which we had helped her set up. This time the news is less encouraging. Back in February she was taken ill and into hospital. She needed all her money to pay for treatment and in the process lost her stall. Without money to pay rent, the family lost their house into the bargain. Fortunately, a friend, whose house we were at, was able to give the family a small out-house to live in. This is a single room not much larger than a garden shed.

Through Steven who is translating, we learn that Mama Elija and her two children did not eat yesterday. Yet they are still able to welcome us with warmth and affection. Life in Rwanda is fragile. It is possible to earn a living but little is guaranteed and the unexpected can bring disastrous consequences. After swapping stories we take our leave and give Mama Elija some money for food. She looks very grateful. We have arranged to gather the children at the house later in the week and had planned to distribute some provisions, so we will have an opportunity to try and get that market stall re-established.