One of the most heart-wrenching experiences that many visitors and volunteers share is encountering children in our neighborhood who are unable to attend Hope Haven. Nearly every day, local children who would love to be Hope Haven Rwanda students peer through the fence, watching other children their age playing together during recess, exploring agricultural projects as part of a class or just hanging out together.
On two separate occasions recently, as Kimberly and I walked through the community meeting people along the way, we encountered children who asked us if they could come to Hope Haven. One boy, who was probably about 10 years old, was with two friends standing on the side of the road. Kimberly and I said hello, gave them high fives and then walked away. While we were walking away, as if emboldened by our friendliness toward him, the boy shouted out to us “I want to go hope!”
There are several reasons that these neighborhood children are unable to join us. Some are living in homes where education is undervalued. Others have parents who are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to work on campus one half-day each week to pay for tuition. And, sadly, there are other children who would be able to join us but there simply isn’t space for them. In recent years, because of space limitations, we have been forced to implement a lottery system so that pre-registered, qualified children are given an opportunity to study at Hope Haven.
One of the reasons that so many neighborhood children want to come to school is because our teachers make learning fun! Teacher Olive is a wonderful example of the quality of instructors that we have at Hope Haven Rwanda. She initially studied Law in university, but shifted to Early Childhood Education because she loved watching the growth of students in those formative years.
Olive is living out the scriptural principle of “The Shema,” reflected in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, which says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” What an honor to transform the lives of the children we serve by transferring Biblical principles throughout the day.
And, as a bonus for Olive, it is fun being a preschool teacher! Today, after teaching for five years at Hope Haven, Olive has witnessed tremendous growth in many of our students. She enjoys the physicality of teaching preschool, where she can engage, dance and play with these beautiful young children, while making deep investments in their future. How can we creatively share life, rich as it is with practical spiritual truths, each step of the way with those whom God has called us to serve?