When we began the work of Umuryango Children’s Network, our vision was to establish a home for street children. As it often is, God’s vision was much broader than ours. So moving beyond the ministry of caring for runaway or abandoned children, God planted the idea of building a school at Umuryango. Thus far He has provided the necessary resources, the teachers and more students than we imagined would wish to enroll in our Kindergarten. Many parents were interested in having their children receive a formal education. So in an effort to limit the number of children we had to turn away, we accepted 90 students rather than the 60 we had initially intended to enroll, and this year we have added a second and third Kindergarten class and hired three more teachers!
Every morning the Kindergartners enter the classrooms with pride in being students and with enthusiasm about the chance to learn. Every morning our teachers greet them with love and care. It is a joy to watch the little ones work diligently at their desks and then listen to them as they squeal with delight while playing together outside. Many children are hungry when they get to school. Some have come from food-insecure homes and some have walked as many as 4 miles. We want this school to be a place where the children feel secure and valued and where their spiritual and academic needs are addressed. To that end we have begun providing a breakfast each morning to enhance their opportunity to learn. Our care team manages to prepare a nutritious drink each morning for $0.25 per child. In addition to a drink, children are offered sandwiches to fill their little bellies. After consuming them, the children’s physical readiness to learn matches their eagerness to learn.
We are so thankful that our first two years of operating the school have been successful. Although it places more demands on the teachers and care team, we are still thankful that there was a need to add additional classrooms. We are grateful that by attending our free Kindergarten, the children will acquire the skills necessary for first grade and obtain the certificate that is required for admittance to the public schools. Most Kindergartens in Rwanda are private and therefore cost-prohibitive. More than anything we are thrilled that our students are learning that God loves them and that even at their young age they can pray to their heavenly Father who watches over them.