– by Joelle Inashaka
The best way to describe the first grade class in Bubanza is to imagine an average sized bedroom housing about 108 children, ranging from ages 6 to 12.
The desks, so closely arranged, are not enough for all the pupils. The smaller ones get to sit on little stools. Each desk seats four children. There’s hardly any room for the teacher to freely move at the front of the class, let alone between the rows of eager students.
Joseph and I set out to have a little fun with this class. Armed with a few coloring books and coloring pencils, we were ready to occupy them for the last 15 minutes of the day.
We weren’t expecting a royal welcome. But all students stood and waved shouting out, ‘Bonjour Madame’, and ‘Bonjour Monsieur’ in the littlest, loudest voices you ever heard! It was certainly breathtaking to be greeted with such bright enthusiasm.
What we didn’t know beforehand was that ‘art class’ is not part of the curriculum. So, if one can imagine a wide range of coloring styles, we’ve now seen it. Coloring inside the lines, outside the lines, along the lines, way off in the corner of the page, I mean name it and we probably saw it! As for the 15 minutes we intended to spend with the kids coloring – it turned out to be over 40 minutes. Kids excitedly showed us their paper, their colorful creations and first attempts. Soon our time turned into a lesson on learning how to share colors and helping a friends on how to use the colors. Nonetheless, it was fun for everyone and each of the kids got to take their masterpieces home (which I suspect will be hung on a wall somewhere).
Looking at this class, one thing is certain, they are enthusiastic about school. They are all looking forward to the new school year to start, they can hardly wait to move into the nice and spacious classrooms at Kwizera Academy.
For such a time as this, God’s grace and mercy is upon these precious children. For such a time as this, God is preparing their little hearts to be instruments of change in their families, community and country. They can change… Burundi!