Visit to Itetero

We’re now back in Kigali and have come to visit Itetero, a project that BCT and APRECOM have been working with and helping to support over the past year. BCT channels its support to Itetero through APRECOM. Based in a sector called Busanze, Itetero exists to support children with disabilities and their families and to mobilise others to do so. Headed up by Pastor Aloys, Itetero runs a school in the grounds of the church that he currently leads as well as a support group for the children’s parents. It also does home visits. APRECOM joins with Itetero in the home visits and helps to run the support group.

20 faces light up as we walk into Itetero’s school room with Pastor Aloys. The children are seated in their wooden chairs and those who are able eagerly reach out their hands for a ‘High Five’. Some rock and screech with excitement. Others are unable to hear or to make a sound, but express themselves by the smile on their faces. It’s a year since I was last here, and Emmaculate, Itetero’s only teacher is eager to share about the children’s progress. ‘Many are doing really well. Deborah there is now walking since we gave her physiotherapy. Last year, she couldn’t even sit in a chair. Roger can now sit too as can others. Some can now write their name and others are just far more alert and mentally active.’ This becomes apparent when she organises a game of ‘Duck Duck Goose.’ The children enter into it with gusto and those that are able race around the circle after each other, laughing and shouting. It used to be so different for them. Most of the children were locked away alone in their homes all day whilst their parents went out to try to find some work and make a living. As a result, when the children first started at Itetero, they were severely withdrawn and unresponsive. Their impairments were profound because of a lack of therapeutic support. But since coming to Itetero, they have blossomed in their abilities and personalities and come alive. Their parents have learned to love and value them and appreciate the support that they now receive from each other and Itetero.

Emmaculate has a wonderful classroom assistant called Venelanda and five of the parents also now help out at the school. They help to prepare the children’s breakfast, toilet them and do simple activities with them. I have bought toys donated by BCT supporters and demonstrate how to use them, not only so the children can have fun but also as a means of stimulating the children’s cognitive abilities and motor skills.

A time of worship, prayer and dancing follows. Kelly has Downs’ syndrome and shows that she is a fantastic dancer as she kicks up her legs in the traditional dance style. So many under-estimate the abilities of these children, but with loving care, stimulation and a programme of learning they can really flourish.