Often, there are some times when we experience great joy due to achievements. Science says that the tears of joy represent an emotional release due to the mixture of optimism and challenge in our lives. For some people, it usually includes a sense of relief after a long laborious journey.

About two weeks ago, while I was watching kids packing their school bags, I realized that some kids were shedding tears. I was curious to know why kids who worked so hard and received well-deserved opportunities to attend excellent boarding schools were sad. Here are some reasons those kids told me…

Moussa said, “I can’t believe I am going to boarding school.  I can’t believe I am going to sleep on a mattress for the first time in my life. I can’t believe I am going to get a chance to eat three times a day. Before, it was even very hard to eat once in two days while I was on the street.”

Most of them were afraid to leave Kigali. They grew up on the streets of Kigali and never traveled to the countryside.  Some of them didn’t even sit in a car before.  Others were shedding tears because they finally had an explanation they can give to someone who asks them what they do in life: “I am a student.”

Divine said, “It is always hard to say good-bye to colleagues and siblings, but it feels so good to get a great opportunity to go back to school. It feels good to be far from my daily family conflicts. It is a mixture of both good and bad circumstances that makes me feel strange about what is happening now.  But I am happy.”

Joseph was not shedding tears but celebrating and enjoying every moment like he never has before. It was my first time to see real joy in Joseph’s face. He was jumping, running and smiling. He was just so excited to go to school.

Not only kids but also some MindLeaps staff were crying as well. Geraldine is the cleaner, and she is also in charge of the Sanitation Program at MindLeaps. She is always with the kids trying to get them to shower when they come from the street.  She takes them to the hospital when they are sick. She feels like those kids have been a part of her life, and she is going to miss them so much.

All kids who left the center were speechless with tears on their faces.  It must seem so strange to anyone expecting to see many smiling faces, but after I realized that all those kids were smiling inside their hearts.

We now have 55 former street children and vulnerable youth at different schools across Rwanda.  There are 55 kids who will be safe tonight and educated tomorrow.

Eugene Dushime is the Country Director for MindLeaps.  He is a former contemporary dancer and assists with the program in Guinea as well.