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Chris Sparks visits the Kigali Reading Center

A big thank you to Chris Sparks for visiting the Kigali Reading Center and sharing his impressions with us:

“The Kigali Reading Center” is located in one of the few remaining downtrodden neighborhoods in Kigali, perched atop, like seemingly everything else is, a steep Kigali hill. The small three room building is not a school, but rather a building staffed by volunteers who realize the importance of literacy for the children of Rwanda in an emerging nation. Currently the building is comprised of a few desks, a chalkboard, and a bookshelf half-filled with children’s books, but it is the people who truly make the Kigali Reading Center such a special place.

The center serves any of the neighborhood children interested in learning to improve their English reading skills. Students from the ages of 3-13 walk themselves to the KRC for a 9:00 start to have stories read to them and translated from English to Kinyarwanda. This is a building that would make the most dilapidated, underfunded American classroom look like a shiny magnet school, it is staffed mostly by untrained (yet wonderful) volunteers, and yet children line up outside each morning to learn to read. My experience at the Kigali Reading Center shook my perspective on education…

…I quickly realized that to engage these young learners required much more than reading to them. I had to joke, ask questions, and sometimes act out scenes. I will forever remember the story of Dazzle the Dinosaur, and I’m hopeful that several of the children will as well. To say I had an amazing experience is a gross understatement, and my major takeaway was that I now understand what drives people to live a life dedicated to outreach. The feeling of giving up some of your time and talent and seeing an instant impact is an incredibly powerful one.”

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