Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 29

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Global Grassroots 2011

Evariste, too, is a dreamer. Like his father, he firmly believes that all progress and opportunity has roots in education. His faith in education is the driving force behind his work with CVTS, but it has also shaped his family life.

Evariste has only two children: Lillian, fourteen and Joshua, five. So few children, spaced so far apart, is extraordinary in Rwanda. “I am only just a special person,” Evariste says. “Many people came to ask me, ‘Why?’ and ‘What happened?’” Evariste explains to incredulous neighbors the benefits of having only as many children as he can educate well. He and his wife waited nine years to have their second child because the family had barely enough income to cover basic needs, and Evariste wanted to keep Lillian in school. “I [am] an example for you,” Evariste likes to say. “Please, don’t have many children who you cannot support.”

Joshua is loud and chatty like his father and has enormous, shining eyes. Joshua wants to be “a driver for airplanes” when he grows up. Earlier this year, Joshua charmed a helicopter

pilot whom he met and church and extracted a promise of flying lessons from the man – after Joshua finishes college. Every day, Joshua walks to primary school with his mother. Whenever a plane passes overhead, he tells her, “Mother, don’t worry. Today, we are walking by foot, but I will take you in airplane in the future.”

In the afternoons, the neighborhood children play with Joshua in the dirt outside CVTS. Most of these children aren’t in school; their parents don’t have the resources to send them to study. But as they sit together giggling, watching one boy push his brother downhill on a piece of yellow plastic, Joshua is indistinguishable. Changed out of his school uniform, he wears the same stained, ragged clothing and too-large, foam flip-flops in primary colors. All the kids are thin. All of them have close-cropped hair and easy smiles. But what separates Joshua – the reason that in forty years, Joshua very well may be a pilot – is his father’s consuming, inherited faith in education.

photo by Laya Madsen