July 30, 2012
Ssali Joseph Eugene
Eric, one of the street children in RDDC’s program: “ I don’t have a future. I just live today – just the way it is – and wait to die.”
This month of July at FIDESCO has been a month of looking into ourselves, examining our goals and what we see in in front of us at the moment and in the future. We need to work for a better tomorrow when all is gone. I wanted to let the children in RDDC’s FIDESCO program know that we are not only there to teach them how to dance, but also to help them build confidence in themselves and to feel worthy of love, no matter who they are.
Most of the street boys at FIDESCO have low self-esteem. It is hard for them to say what is hurting them. No matter how much you love them, they are used to the old way in which “nobody cares”. They keep everything inside, which makes them rude on the outside.
There is one boy named “Mugisha”. He is different from the others. If he has a problem, he comes and tells you. One day, he came and talked to my colleague, Eugene, and said, “I don’t feel like dancing today because I don’t want to hear any noise from my fellow peers. I want to be alone…When they shout, it makes me feel bad in my head.”
Over time and with our dance classes, Mugisha has transformed. Recently, Mugisha, came to me and told me that he was the first in his class at FIDESCO. He has really changed. Now, he is free and always smiling when dancing.
From the first week, I went around talking with some of the children in our program. I wasn’t content just seeing them come to dance and then leave. I wanted to know what happens after dance? What does each one of them think about when they lay down on their beds? Do they really have a vision, a dream?
I asked one of our students, Eric, where he sees himself in some years. This is honestly what he said, “I see myself dead.” I said, “What?” “Yes,” he said, “I don’t have a future. I just live today – just the way it is – and wait to die.” I said, “You must be kidding me.” I thought maybe he wasn’t in the mood to talk, so I left for awhile and came back later. When I came back, he said the same thing. I kept quiet and looked at him while the rest of the kids were laughing at him. I didn’t know what to tell him. At one time, I felt discouraged by the situation, but it never reached to the extent where I lost all my hope.
Eric is very talented, but it is hard for him to believe in himself because of what he went through. This is one of RDDC’s goals to save these young children’s future by building up the broken walls of their hearts, supporting them to develop their talents. I talked to Eric and I talk to him everyday when we meet, explaining that the future does not depend on the past or what you are today. Take the chance that you have today and change all that you don’t like by working hard. “Eric, you are very talented. Work with your talent, develop it and hope things are better tomorrow.”
At the end of the third week, one of RDDC students, Pierre, came back from school. Pierre was one of these children. Now Pierre is going to school through the support of RDDC. I talked to him about how he feels to be able to go back to school. He just smiled and looked so grateful. I asked him what challenges he has found at school, and he told me, “Just the language barrier.” They speak to him in English and he does not understand what they are saying, but now, at least he is trying and improving. Pierre earned good grades and he is a good example to the rest of these boys at FIDESCO.
Ssali Joseph Eugene is one of the Rwandan RDDC dance instructors that leads the FIDESCO program. He is a contemporary dancer and frequently organizes performances in Kigali.