-Now they can see my child goes to Salvation Army Preschool!

Early Monday morning we left the capital of Rwanda to go to one of the rural places where the Salvation Army operates. A sunny day, a beautiful scenery and dry roads made it all quite pleasant.
We; that is me, Sponsorship Secretary Major Anna-Maria, volonteer Ms Carolina, our photographer for the day, Mrs Wendy, our Statistics Secretary and Editor for the Command News letter and the Section Officers Captains Theobold and Serafine.
We went out early in the morning to Rutobwe preschool to meet parents and local government, to inform them of this terms program, tell a story from Salvation Army history and to have the local government there with us to celebrate this day. 

When we arrived at Rutobwe Corps we were invited in for a nice cup of tea in the Corps Leaders home where we also did the finale preparations for the meeting. We could hear the children repeating something that the teacher was saying from the classroom next door and soon went out to greet them and the parents that had come for the meeting.

I said Hallo to the children and they said in English: Hallo teacher! How are you? I am fine!
and I said that they did really well and I am happy they are doing their English class.
Then I told them about me going to school also. They did not believe me, but I told them that I go to Kinyarwanda class. And then I started counting in Kinyarwanda: Rimwe, Kabiri, Gatatu, Kane... and they then helped me when I "stumbled" for the numbers 7, 8 and nine.
So then I asked them to count for me, but this time in English. They did very well!
Then they went to have porridge, sitting outside the Corps building on the stairs, they all received a big cup of porridge. Volonteer Carolina asked them to pose for a photo afterwards.
Meantime we started the parents meeting. I asked them what they know about The Salvation Army and they did not know much, only that we have a church here in Rutobwe and that we support the families to give the children education.
I told them about the time when William Booth as pastor came back to church with people who had answered God´s call for salvation and how they were not welcomed in the church.
William then had to choose of being a well paid pastor in a nice congregation or to leave with the new flock of sheep, vulnarable people that later would be the beginning of The Salvation Army.
I told them that the mission of The Salvation Army (which now works in 125 countries) is to always preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs without discrimination...
I try to always tell one Salvation Army story when I meet with parents and local government because I think sometimes we take for granted that people "know" what we are...
This day we had invited the local government as we always do and the Executive Officer for the sector came to join us.

Captain Theobold was also my interpreter for the day. Thank you for that help! I would not be able to do my work without them. Together we shared information and message to the parents, we informed about the drawing competion that is going on during September, showed the brand new Salvation Army Preschool Diplomas that all six year olds will get in the end of term 3 when they "graduate" from preschool. The parents and the government want all children to go to preschool and they also say that without a diploma from preschool the child will not be allowed in to Primary school. I do not know how that can work, but I was happy to show that our children will be able to show both transcript and diploma when they go to their new school. Also we gave the Parents Committe some time to share joy and challenges of having that responsibility of being a Committee member, and to listen to what they wanted to share with the parents, local government and us as administrators of the school.
But I promised something to you and I will keep that promise. This Monday was the day of the
TOTAL MAKOVER... the day of the arrival of school uniforms...
All preschool children that did not have uniforms were to be given that this day and you could almost touch the anticipation in the room.  Captain Serafine and some salvationists have made uniforms for all children and first there was a bit of a chaos, no not really, but a little trouble matching shirt and skirt/shorts with the right child. Captain Theobold, Mrs Wendy and Ms Carolina helped finding the kits.
 They then handed them to Captain Serafine that called out the name of the child and gave me the uniform as I was to give them to the children as representative for the Sponsors that have made this possible.

At the start the children were shy to come forward, but with a smile and a happy face this shy girl walked slowly towards me, stopped and wondered maybe if she dared to greet me.
We shook hands and I gave her the clothes and then asked her to go to change into her new clothes.
Some children had their parents in the meeting and one father said: "Now our neigbours will see that my child goes to preschool" and looked so proud and wanted to be in the photo with his daughter
He was so proud!
I love this job, kneeling in front of a child, shake his/her hand and see their expression when receiving the uniform, holding it as the big treasure as it is and not wanting to let go of it.
One boy came to get his uniform, shook my hand with his head looking down in the ground,  a bit afraid or shy...
but when he had received the uniform he turned around and ran out to change clothes, he was sooo happy, and his face was shining of the great smile on his face :D
-"It is important to say thank you, say thank you to the Sponsorship Secretary..."
Oh, I almost forgot, we also made home work and communication bags for all children by "Igetenge" material.
(Igetenge is a womens clothing here, it looks like a big piece of material, like a sheet that women wrap themselves in) The Womens Ministries sell them in Trade department and I bought many from them to make colourful bags for the children. Now they can bring home the notebook without getting them dirty or damaged (I hope) and the teacher can write notes to the parents.
So are you ready to see the before and after picture of the total make over? Okey, here they come...
Don´t we look smart? Can you see how proud and happy we are? We are very proud of being part of The Salvation Army, thank you all donors for this, we are thankful for your support. Without you we could never have done this, without you the Salvation Army in Rwanda and Burundi Command could not run this preschool. Thanks to you they will be prepared to go to school, these children will change the world - they will help themselves, their parents and Rwanda by getting an education and bring hope for a brighter future...
So again, thank you!
It has been a long day and it is time to go home. We want to wave good bye to all of you! BYE!
And then all went home... or not... the children did not want to go home, they wanted to stay, but after yet another hour they started to leave for home. They all looked so nice and I remembered the words of the proud father; "Now my neigbours can see that my child goes to preschool". Yes you can really see that now, and the children will be recognised by the community as Salvation Army Preschool children...
And you do see the beautiful scenery, don´t you? I´m amazed of it, but for the children this is an every day view and not as exciting as a car...
Did I mention I think this is a very beautiful place? ;D
Now it was time even for us to leave so the boys had to climb down from the car.
We were very happy with the outcome of the day and started our journey back to the city of Kigali.
Well, we did make a stop... just one more photo of the scenery...
and one more, just one more... and here you can actually see the small etages of farmlands that the people here farm to grow food to support the families. If they are able to grow more than they need themselves they change goods with each other or sell it on the market to get some money so that they can pay for things they need that need the currency of money to buy.

/ Anna-Maria and Carolina
Photographer: Carolina Tuftstrom
Photo Shop work by: Anna-Maria Tuftstrom
Photos can be used by permission and by recognizing the photographer next to photo


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