After 2 years the pictures and stories turned into reality and I finally got the chance to visit and stay at the Ubaka U Rwanda Centre which provides a home for 35 street boys.
I have been a trustee of Ubaka U Rwanda since it was registered as a UK charity in 2008 and since then I have been involved with administration and fundraising in the UK. However, not until my visit did I truly understand what a profound difference our work makes to the lives of so many boys.
At the airport I was hugged by an adorable flock of small boys and taken on a bumpy ride to the centre, located at the heart of the local community, in Kigali’s colourful Nyamirambo district. Inside the house I was surrounded and greeted by an even bigger flock of boys of various ages from about 6 to 20. I was touched to hear the boys calling Becky and Evode (the Ubaka U Rwanda Founders) “Mama and Papa”. The boys soon re-named me “LUCE” and invited me down the precarious, red dust hills of Nyamirambo for a fun game of 15 a side football.
Every morning I awoke to a house full of indefatigable boys rushing for school, laughing, playing, making cards, dancing and playing music. I ate huge portions of maize, helped with homework and played countless games of UNO. I was constantly entertained by the boys’ fondness for gymnastics and their spirit of fun. The centre is kept in order by a small group of older boys who take care of cooking, cleaning and looking after the younger boys. I was truly amazed to see how well the boys work together, how full of life, ambition and affection they are and how grateful to be loved, to have a home and to go to school.
I recommend anybody who is interested in our work to get involved and see for yourself how all of us can contribute to transforming these boys lives.