Dav’s Column - December 17, 2009

Author: dav  |  Category: Uncategorized

Anybody who knows me in the slightest shouldn’t be surprised that the thing that affected me the most about Rwanda (besides of course for the traveler’s sickness which lasted twelve days and borrowed five pounds) was the children. The choruses of kids running and shouting “Muzungu, Muzungo”  ( white person) as we drove down the two lane highway or walked along the red dirt roads was at times deafening. To some of these children in the more remote villages we were the first white people they had ever laid eyes on and they stared at us as if we were in fact aliens. When the initial shock wore off they would practice their english on us, always leading strong with ” My name is…” and becoming shy by the time it came to say their actual names, they held our hands, sang for us and listened to us sing in our strange sounding language with wide eyed excitement. The last day when we were filming in the church where a significant part of the genocide occurred I struggled to keep composure, a few of us wandered outside to sit and grab a breath of fresh air and within minutes a  group of about twenty kids gathered and circled us. I remember sitting there thinking ” If only I could speak Kinyarwanda then I could ask just for a hug, because after what I saw today, I  really could use one”. At that point I really didn’t care if I looked like a crazy, alien lady,  I just opened up my arms and smiled and waited. First a little teeny tiny girl in a faded red dress stepped forward and though tentative at first she cuddled right into me when I squeezed her, then as if on cue the whole front row jumped on line and a few came in for seconds and thirds. I spent the next twenty minutes hugging these kids, deliriously happy and oblivious to the sorrow I had felt so heavily just half an hour before. Without a doubt that moment was the highlight of my trip, even though as I got up to go back inside I was unable to shut my eyes to the visual reminders of the beast inside mankind, I had something with me infinitely more powerful, the endless gift of children’s love and innocence.

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