The boy with the pink-red pullover

This is going to be my second story about my year in Rwanda. And I have decided that this little story will be kept in English, to enable my readers from Rwanda to read my blog too.

On my first day into the project, I am working in for the next year, I met the kids who found shelter here. These kids have absolutely nothing. All of them got picked from the streets of Kigali and therefore are former street children. One of the boys, who was living in the Center I especially noticed and I will probably remember him for a long time.
However, after a couple of days, I have been there, he was suddenly gone. Either he went back to the streets to try his luck or he got back into his family, which is the main goal of the project, to enable the family and the kids to reunite.
Despite me trying to find the reason why he was gone, my coworkers couldn’t tell me. Most likely they didn’t understand, about which kid I was talking about.

But what was so special about this kid that he imprinted on me that way? The answer is that there was nothing very special about him. He was not different from the other kids. He was neither an outsider nor one of the very loud kids. His story was, of course, personal but not very different from the stories of the other kids.
He ran away from his home in a small village because his parents were unable to feed him. He went a long way to Kigali, trying his luck there on the streets. Begging for money and food. On the streets, he was found by the social workers of CPAJ, my coworkers in the project. They invited him to stay in the center and like the other boys, he found shelter there.
Unfortunately, I don’t know much else about his unquestionably hard fight for survival on the streets of Kigali.

However, what I remembered about him was his pink-red pullover. A very bad looking piece of cloth. But it was his favorite. He was wearing this pullover any time, even if it was freaking hot outside.

On this pullover was a snowman and in a glittering flourishes font it said: „I melt for my grandchildren“. Again it was quite awful looking. Still, he loved it.

And this is what was so memorable. The absurdity of different realities.
The whole existence of the pullover being the very opposite reality of the one the boy has had for his entire life.
Not only does he not have parents, who look out for him, not to say about grandparents.
But he also happens to live in a country where he will never learn to understand what a snowman is or when it would melt.
However to be honest sometimes one feels like melting if you dare to stay long enough out of the shadows.

I would have liked to tell this kid how much I loved seeing him with this pullover because he somehow managed to make this awful piece of clothing seem fitting to me. He just loved it without understanding the meaning and despite the fact how remarkably out of place it was on him.

Moreover, I believe the fact the pullover being different to the boy’s reality, is the most beautiful thing about it.

So in memory of this kid and the other kids who’s reality it is to fight every day on the streets for pure survival, I wish you an angel that sits on your shoulder, who warms and protects your back.

Stay tuned for the next week’s story


One Responses

  • Calene

    Poor boy!

    This story is sad, but amazing Jan, keep up the good work!


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