September 2020: A letter from Amahoro Builders on the conditions of the Busanza Group during COVID-19

COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone in their daily lives. In Rwanda, it has deeply affected our children and their families.

During the month of April, we were able to support them with food. In May, it was difficult. We kept following up with the kids through phone calls with their mothers or guardians. By the beginning of June, we were able to visit some of them in order to know how they were coping with the situation of staying home. Here is how they are doing:

map of Busanza, a neighborhood in the in Kigali region of Rwanda
Busanza is a neighborhood in the in Kigali region of Rwanda. A group of our kids from the Center reside here and have become friends outside of the Center both with their group and the Gatenga group.

“In this situation of staying home and staying safe, my brother, Dieudonne, and I have learned how to stay home. I think we succeeded. Our Mum died and the lockdown announcement occurred unexpectedly, leaving our dad locked at work. He could not come home and had to stay there. That meant we were alone. This situation has frightened us since the time the lockdown started till the time you brought us food in April. But in May, the situation changed. We are so proud that we were able to manage this situation alone and with the help of receiving food from Amahoro Builders. We are safe, and our dad comes and goes from work. We are happy,” Patrick said.

two kids sitting outside in Rwanda wearing masks

Daniel brought up a similar outlook that this has been a good moment to be with his mother after a long period of conflict. “Now, the situation is good. We understand each other and I feel much better at home even if getting food is hard. We have peace after the counseling sessions I received from Amahoro Builders counselors, said Daniel.”

From time to time we go to the ground near our home and play soccer with other children. All the children of Busanza meet on the playground mostly every day to play.

When Fred and Prosper went to visit them, they were found on the ground playing soccer. They said they miss their peer group counseling at the Center and playing soccer with the Gatenga group.

group of kids in Rwanda standing outside holding a soccer ball

When Prosper, a volunteer coach, asked them why they don’t wear masks, they said that it disturbed them when they were playing.

“If there is no class, no other entertainment, no going to the center, no peer group counseling, meeting here to play soccer is our dearest time.”

All the children of Busanza are not able to access the internet and television to continue their studies through e-learning, a program the Ministry of Education activated to help fill the gap.

The children noted that they would like to revisit their courses and continue learning, but the situation is not favorable. There is no television, radio, computer, or smart phone to connect to for e-learning.

“What we do have is enough time to continue improving our football skills even if we are missing our brothers and sisters of Gatenga. We are coping with the situation as positively as we can.”

Editorial Note: Rising Above the Storms acknowledges the importance of wearing a mask in public to limit the spread of COVID-19. We are working with the kids to stress the importance of wearing masks and are providing masks to the kids without any. We are posting this blog to show the real hardships our kids are facing. The reality is, during the pandemic, our kids have even less access to the internet leading them to turn to in-person activities such as soccer to retain their connection to the world. At Rising Above the Storms, we aim to provide our kids access to the internet as a fundamental human right in hopes that our kids can value their health and the health of others above that of connection and connectivity.