Sometimes I take a long journey, in my thoughts, and I remember the past of some boys supported by MindLeaps to attend boarding school or vocational training school. The train of my memory takes me to a point when I first met some of those street children. I want to share a story of such a boy with you.
This boy, named Jado, ended up on the street when he was rejected by his father – just after the funeral of his mom. Jado was brought to a rehabilitation center. In the past, Rwanda had centers that took in kids with the purpose to reunite them with family. When in the rehabilitation center, Jado met MindLeaps. He was so young – just 12 at that time. He was one of our top dance students, always attentive in class and the first to ask good questions. Everyone in my team could confirm that Jado was a born leader.
Three months later, Jado was reinserted with a relative located in the Northern Province. “I was not happy. The family was poor and had no means to send me back to school. I chose to go back on the street hoping I will find a place where I would get an opportunity to learn some skills so that I can find a job,” said Jado. While he was on the street, he heard from colleagues that MindLeaps is teaching dance in the Eastern province. Jado took a hard decision of walking hundreds of kilometres to find MindLeaps and learn dance again.
On his way to the Eastern Province, Jado and a few colleagues were picked up by adults and brought to a center that hosted unaccompanied kids while looking for a family or a relative to permanently take them. The center was close to Rugerero village where MindLeaps runs a holiday program about water conservation and sanitation. I was informed that Jado ended up in that center.
Rebecca and I went to visit Jado there. “There are no words to describe how happy I was feeling when I saw Rebecca coming to hug me,” said Jado two years later. Jado also added that it was a miracle for him to hear that he will go to school.
Now Jado is a head boy (in charge of peer discipline) at Sonrise Boarding School, one of the excellent schools in Rwanda. He was selected to represent Sonrise Students for some special events for the school. He confessed last month that his last memory of the street makes him smile inside, especially when he remembers how he got an idea of selling goats and moving to the Eastern province. He is grateful for what MindLeaps has done for him. Jado would like to dance for the rest of his life; he doesn’t want to be disconnected from this art form that reignited his hope to live.
Eugene Dushime is the Country Director for MindLeaps. He is a former contemporary dancer and assists with the program in Guinea as well.