A few months ago my friends and I were driving from Kigali to Lake Kivu, and we stopped for tea and views at the Virunga Lodge near the Volcanoes National Park (I had stayed there before and wrote about it here, the views are simply spectacular). The lodge is quite a way up the hill, past a series of little villages. On the way back to the town a young boy in jeans and a well-worn T-shirt stopped us and asked for a lift to the main road. We told him to jump in and quickly found out that this was no ordinary boy.
His name was John and he was 15 years old. He was on his way to Musanze to meet with his friend, and was very grateful for the lift as otherwise it would have taken him at least an hour to get there. His English was very good, and he was very articulate. He was choosing his words carefully and even correcting his own small mistakes.
John told us he was very lucky to go to a very good school in Musanze called SonRise School, established by the ministry of the Mustard Seed Project (a US non-profit Christian organisation). Half of the students come from families which can afford to pay the fee, and the other half are orphans whose fees are covered by sponsors. The school is considered one of the better ones in Rwanda. That’s where John learnt English so well but he was very aware that there was still room for lots of improvement. He was very excited to be able to practise speaking with us. He told us he was also happy to be able to use the school lodgings as it would have been too far for him to walk there every day.
At 15 years of age, John had his future pretty much figured out. He first chose Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry as his main subjects because he was thinking of becoming a scientist. However, he soon realised that he had a bigger dream – to become a pilot. That’s why he swapped Chemistry for Geography. Obviously, to fly planes, he needed to know everything about the world and its countries, he told us. And Mathematics and Physics are essential to understand how to fly a plane. Physics was his favourite subject actually, as it’s something we see around every day and it determines our every move but hardly ever notice it.
We got to the main road where John was ready to jump out to meet his friend. He thanked us again for the lift, and we wished him all the best with his studies. Here was a young boy from a tiny village in western Rwanda who was not afraid to dream big. He was so hopeful and full of optimism and potential, I could only wish for him to fly big planes all over the world in the near future!