I am about to post photos from my visit to the local school in Kigutu. My camera died while I was there- I thought I had charged it, but the electricity kept going out, so it did not charge as much as I wanted! My dad took a lot of photos, and I now have hard copies of those.
As I mentioned before, I brought over notes from all of the children in my daughter Charlotte's kindergarten class and my son Oliver's first grade class. Each of them drew a picture or wrote a note to the children in Burundi. I also brought with me the class photos from each class, and when I gave the notes out to the children there, I pointed to the photo of the child who made the picture and explained in French that this child made the picture just for them. You should have seen the Burundian children's eyes as I explained that these notes had come from so far away. Turns out they did not know where New York was, and we were able to get a map over to the school after we left so that they could see better.
I am going to Oliver and Charlotte's classes tomorrow to talk to the children about their notes and to pass out the notes that the Burundian children wrote back. I was so touched by the words the children wrote, and at the heart of it I keep coming back to the idea that in this forgotten place where they are not used to seeing tourists, the idea that they are not alone is so meaningful. These children felt so special that someone from somewhere else, so far away, would think to write to them. They wrote back notes that talked about how God had brought them such a blessing with these notes, and many drew pictures of themselves playing with the other child from New York. The children also asked for things they needed: shoes, uniforms, notebooks (which we were able to buy), pens, and books. Many expressed how hard they are studying, and encouraged the child here to study hard too. They also expressed hope that they would be able to meet the child who wrote to them some day, and they hoped that they could continue writing. And, as I said before, children on each side expressed love for each other. This natural human instinct to love another is clear, and these children without prompting or inhibition wrote this in their letters.
Apparently the children here are excited to see these notes too. I was at Buckley chaperoning a field trip last week, and the boys were asking how the trip was and when they could see their letters. I can't wait to show them these notes from so far away. Thankfully I convinced a few waiters at a local restaurant to help me translate - the letters are written in Kirundi! I spoke to the children in French, and they seemed to understand, but most speak and write in the local language. Pictures to follow in a minute....