Dorota and I are finishing off this post as we are about to head out for a goodbye dinner with our friend Paul (his website). While here, he has captured some beautiful digital photographs, some of which are in this post (as well as our new header image). He has also been shooting medium-format film on his Zenza Bronica. Yes, that means REAL film. I cannot wait to see the developed shots. We will be using them for a video project, but check back here for online posts as well.
As promised in our last post, this week is all about positivity. It gets hard sometimes, when you see the ignorance and greed of mankind around every corner, but there is another side of man which is love, creativity, understanding and generosity. These are the things that make life worth living. Sean from the UK sent us a secret care package for Willy via Paul's suitcase. Willy was at our house hanging out one night, when Paul came out of his room with a new laptop and an external hard drive. He handed them to Willy and said, "Here you go, mate." Willy just about had a nervous breakdown.
Willy, Paul and I are working on a film that exposes the life of street children in Rwanda. It is directed at both the Western and Rwandan audience. This means that all scenes will need subtitling (both English and Kinyarwanda). Now, Willy and I have the capability of working on editing and subtitling the film together, even after Dorota and I return to the UK.
Meanwhile at Les Enfants de Dieu, things have continued to improve. The overall mood of the staff and children has been happy, and we can feel this every time we come to the center. Even the tedious daily chores haven't been able to crush the boys' spirits.
The library has become a part of daily life, and boys of all ages have been using it for books, games and art-making.
There have also been more craftsmen dropping in to help out with tasks such as mending clothes and repairing worn shoes.
The boys have developed their own gambling culture as well, and marbles have become the local currency.
One thing that always makes me happy is how all the boys seem to look forward to their time in school. Paul also pointed out that no matter how dirty the boys get playing and working, they always wash up and put on clean uniforms for school. There is pride in it, and that is important.
Hip hop culture has also become an every day part of life at the center. A few boys love breaking, and we have sessions whenever I'm there and they are free. Also the boys' effortless grasp of multimedia astounds me.
They have started their own underground recording culture too. They form R'n'B and hip hop groups and come to me with their new songs. They have re-named the local cow shed Bret Record Studio (pronounced "reecord"). Once inside, we pick a rhythm with the metronome on my phone, and then I record their vocals as they listen to the rhythm with headphones. I started sending these vocal recordings along with their metronome settings to producer friends in the States this weekend. There have already been incredible finished tracks coming back. The boys aren't going to believe their ears! Stay tuned for a complete album, telling the story of children's lives on the streets through their own music.
Next week, we will hit you with the reality of life on the streets here. The boys at the center are lucky to have a haven away from the streets, but there are still countless children in Rwanda without homes, and the injustices against them are mind-boggling. In our own time, we have begun traveling away from EDD to spend time with these children, both at other shelters and in the streets. Even in the face of hopelessness, they find love, creativity, understanding and generosity as you will see as we dance, hangout and share life with these incredible children.