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Thursday, 03 April 2014 Written by fra Ivica Perić

ArineMy name is Arine. I’m six years old and I live in Kivumu, in Rwanda with my mother, my grandmother and my two brothers. My brothers attend the primary school. My father left us and we do not know where he is.

We have a house made of mud, with two rooms. Five of us live in this house. We sleep, eat and do our studies in our house. We also have a cow, which we got from Caritas, and she is very important to us, so we take good care of her.

We do not have electricity or water. My mother buys a little kerosene, which we put into a lamp made out of a tin can. We use that lamp at night so my brothers can do their schoolwork. And we carry water to our house. I have learned to go with other children, and already I can carry two small buckets all by myself.

We have a little land beside our house where my mother and my grandmother plant and dig all day so that we can have something to eat, and also so that we can feed our cow. But we are hungry. We eat once a day, and sometimes a day passes with no food. We eat only cassava and potatoes that grow in our garden. I have never tasted chocolate.

My grandmother is sick. She has malaria. We don’t have money for medicine to help her. We get some money when my mother sells some milk, but she needs to buy oil and kerosene. There is no money for other things. We cannot buy clothes. Sometimes we get old clothing from the market.

But now we have schools in our village - I hope I will go to school! I want to learn everything, learn many things, and have a better future. I could help my family and not be hungry...

This is just one of thousands of stories from Kivumu. This village, just like the rest of Rwanda, is full of children. Here, every family has three, four, five or even more children. But life in Kivumu and Rwanda is too hard. And it is because of those children and their future that we work hard to bring them education. Our goal is to make it possible for each child, at least in our parish, to become educated so that they can take their future in their own hands.

We started with the Padri Vjeko Vocational Training Center, named after our Franciscan brother Vjeko Ćurić, who died tragically while he was helping the people of Rwanda. At Padri Vjkeo VTC, we train youth to become carpenters, tailors, builders, plumbers, electricians and welders. We are very pleased to report that most of our students find employment very quickly after graduating from our school because skilled workers are in high demand in Rwanda.

Padri Vjeko VTC employs more than thirty teachers and supporting staff. Many of them are former students who did very well at our school. A job in the school means security and being able to feed their families.

In addition to the increasingly successful vocational school, we are busy with another big project – the construction and furnishing of a Technical Senior Secondary School. We have been working on this project for the past two years. Finally, we have completed the first phase, and the new school enrolled its first students in February of this year. So Kivumu now has its first Secondary School!

But we haven’t stopped there. We are now busy building the second phase of the Technical Secondary School. At the same time we are building a series of toilets for the students, as well as huge underground rainwater tanks. Our goal is that the school will, in future, become a Polytechnic Institute, which would mean that our students would be able to earn university-level diplomas there!

In all these endeavours, we haven’t been alone. We have received selfless help from donors and volunteers from all over the world. They have generously given their time and energy so that we can reach our goals together.

And we’re all here for the same reason... to help Arine, the girl from the beginning of our story, and all the other kids like her in Kivumu, to get a chance for education so that tomorrow they can hold their heads high and look to a brighter future.

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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