When driving in to Faith & Hope primary school in Gako village for the first day, the welcome was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Children ran towards the bus as it approached: a sea of beautiful smiles, happy faces, laughter surrounding us. They clung to our white hands, stroking our skin, touching our hair, asking our names. We had waited months to meet each other, it was so overwhelming and I will never forget it.
The whole school performed a wonderful song and dance to drum accompaniment, teachers dancing amongst the children. It was a celebration of pure joy, just how I had imagined African culture. It struck me that teachers in Britain would never do this. I was delighted to see how much rhythm and lack of inhibition everyone had, I was so excited to start teaching my dance classes.
The only other time I had felt part of an unfiltered dance celebration like this was in a Belgian town square with a group of London SEN students I was working with. The sun blazed as the school jazz band echoed around the square and the students danced with members of the public. It was so touching. Witnessing these precious moments encompasses the true nature of dance and fills my heart.
A stark lesson learned is just how lucky we are in Britain to have access to free high quality education. A teacher in Rwanda is paid less than £40 a month. Class sizes are around 50. Children who can not afford school fees of £36 a year, sit on the school path with torn clothes, dirty faces and sad eyes. They watch other children who have been sponsored having fun and receiving an education. The biggest sting is that these children don’t ask you for money, they ask you for water...the most basic of human needs.
Those that have the privilege of education lap it up with such joy and excitement. Their thirst to learn outstrips any positive attitudes in British children. It’s so striking.
‘Together in Sport Rwanda’, the charity I am working with, continually raises funds to enable the children already in school to continue. It’s a fantastic example of how a small gesture has a direct long-term impact on another little human’s life. The ecstatic faces in this video is the firsthand proof. http://www.togetherinsportrwanda.org