Written by Jenny Clover at the ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda for ROP Stories.
Photo: Amusa (on right), with his best friend Frank.
Amusa is one of our youngest boys, aged around five we think. Like so many of the boys, we don’t know his real age or when his birthday is. All we know is that his parents are dead and he is on his own. All the rest is guess work based on his size and little snippets he can remember. Although we can’t even trust his memory: when he first arrived he told us that his parents died in the 1994 genocide, a story he probably adopted from older street children he met of whom this was true.
The Director of our Rwandan Orphans Project Centre, Celestin, found Amusa living under a truck in an area of Kigali where long-haul drivers stop to rest. It’s difficult to describe you Amusa’s tiny frame and wide-eyed innocence, but if you can imagine any five year old you might know living under a truck and fending for themselves every day, you will probably realise how unbearable it is to think of little Amusa doing this.
Amusa wasn’t completely alone when we found him, he shared his life on the streets with two close comrades: Frank and Saidi, both aged around six and now also living at the Centre. The three of them have a closeness that you don’t see amongst young children very often, and it can only be because of what they must have been through together. They are fiercely loyal and fight for each other when they feel there has been an injustice. An incident at the Centre which meant Amusa missed lunch and was bought a banana, saw him insist on sharing it with his friends.
Now safely away from the streets and with three regular meals a day guaranteed to him, Amusa seems happy. But he is still a young child and finds it difficult to accept that he has no idea what happened to his parents, except that they are dead. Soon after he joined our Centre, Amusa had a fight with another boy and became hysterical afterward. He kept crying out that he wanted his mum. He knew, as we did, that she is dead but that didn’t stop him wanting her. We will never be able to ease that pain but we can go some way towards helping Amusa have a chance at a successful future.