Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I found out last week that the guard at my house was illiterate and could not read and write in any language. The Estate Agent was over because of another H2O problem and we were waiting for the plumber when I asked him some questions about both of the “Domestics” who went with the house. He knew more about the housekeeper because Claire is the one who speaks to him often about the house but he knew very little about Francois. He called him into the house and by the look on his face, he thought he had done something wrong and was going to be fired.
Francois is 26, his older siblings were killed in the genocide but his parents are alive and live on a subsistence farm about 2 ½ hours south of Kigali. I asked Jamie to find out if he would like to learn some English while I am here and he said YES, PLEASE in Kinyarwanda. I then asked how many years he attended school and was surprised that he never went to school because he was needed to work on the farm.
He could not spell or write his name in any language so I downloaded ESL materials from the web and we started his lessons last week. Today he can print his name and knows the alphabet by sight. I am now using a deck of cards to teach him numbers. Most of the other guards are in the same boat and now Francois is showing them all the worksheets I have given him. I do not know what he is teaching them but he is doing something to help them. I am looking for a basic literacy class for all of them but no luck so far. They are a lost generation because they were growing up during and right after the Genocide and if they do not learn English, they will never be able to improve their skills and income.
There are laws now that every child must go to through level 9…but in the rural areas there are still kids who do not go to school because they do not have money fees and uniforms. To some, Education is still a luxury.