I promise, I’ll finish the story in this post… no more continuations.
Isaiah has been doing wonderfully in school over the last year. He’s participating in school now, learning to read and write, do math, and is being taught sign language so that he can communicate more effectively. I’m so grateful for the pictures that Elie sends me, so that I can see Isaiah’s progress and the changes that he is making in his life.
The school operates on a quarter calendar and at every quarter break, the children go back to their home communities. The idea is that they can maintain the ties with their families or at least their villages, and one day reassimilate back into them. Isaiah is not the only orphan at the school, so in these circumstances a foster family is found for the child to stay with for these 10 day breaks. Isaiah has been taking his breaks with the pastor at the school/orphanage where I originally met him.
This past December Isaiah went back to his village for his break as usual and when Elie was checking in with the pastor to see how the break was going, he was shocked to hear that Isaiah was at home with his family… the family that we had understood didn’t exist!
Elie immediately came out to the village to investigate further and was led out to a tiny house, far out in the trees, away from the populace of the small parish. Isaiah was there with his parents and 4 siblings.
He’d been turned out of the home years earlier due to his disabilities. But now after just a year in school, his behavior has changed dramatically. He’s able to communicate more clearly his needs, which has made him calmer and less prone to outbursts. He’s able to do simple chores like fetch water from the well, and takes care of his own hygiene needs. Because of all of these changes, Isaiah has been welcomed back into his home as a member of the family again.
While my Western upbringing and attitudes make me defensive and angry about parents treating a child this way, I know that this is a tremendous victory. One of the many things that Elie does in Rwanda is advocate for awareness of special needs in the communities in the area. There are still a great many people who don’t know how to treat disabled children and often discard them rather than deal with the difficulties they may present.
So Isaiah has returned to school again, and at the next quarter break he will again go home to his family. He has a home, parents and brothers and sisters. I know this might come across as anticlimactic, but the little boy in the yellow shirt in that picture is a dramatically different child that the boy I met several years ago. God has moved him from a homeless, uneducated boy with no community to a young man with 2 homes! His school community that he loves and now his family home. He’s getting an education and he’s learning that Jesus loves him just as he is.
The story still isn’t over, really. But we’re caught up to the present now. Thanks for reading 🙂