Three weeks ago when I was passing in a village situated around 60 km from Kigali, the bus stopped at the gas station for a few minutes. I saw a man biting a kid. I asked people who were selling cookies to passengers why the man was biting the kid. With a smile, one of the guys responded that the kid had stolen money from that man.
“Hmm,” I responded but I could not believe what I was seeing. Then I asked the guy who was sitting beside me in the bus why no one intervened to stop the man. The person smiled and told me that the kid who was being bitten is a thief; he already knew the kid. I was curious how he knew that kid. The guy responded to me that all street children are thieves. I felt chocked up, but I kept my silence and did not argue with him.
The driver paid for the gas and we continued on the road.
This story reminded me of another man that I saw two years ago running behind a little boy of about 7 years. The boy was begging in front of the supermarket. When two women who were passing around tried to stop that man, with much anger, the man turned back and asked those two women if one of them was the mom of that boy. They both said no. Both women told him that they were just trying to save the boy from his anger. The man said that the boy was a thief. He also said that he wanted to punish him so that he will not come back.
Those two stories made me think about MindLeaps’ students. Our students are coming back and forth to the center everyday, and they are still living on the street. None of them has ever stolen anything from MindLeaps. I think our students take MindLeaps as a part of them – a family. And how often do children steal from their own family?
Eugene Dushime is the Country Director for MindLeaps. He is a former contemporary dancer and assists with the program in Guinea as well.