Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The games children play

I have posted before about the ingenuity and resourcefulness of poor Rwandan children. “Fooootball” (translate: “soccer”) is their passion, and the lack of a soccer ball cannot slow them down. It all starts with a condom. "What?!?," you ask. Yes, they take a condom, blow it up, and tie it off.  (Tell USAID to send more balloons, fewer condoms.) Then comes the trash (which is actually very difficult to find in Rwanda), all of which is then skillfully enclosed in a web of homemade twine that would make the most persnickety spider proud. 
Let’s play!

And with no shiny new bicycle under the Christmas (or Banana) tree, these children suck it up and ride on,… or ride off on their homemade wooden bicycles:

Shares well with others, even aliens from outer space
A very cool Rwandan Chopper
I have also posted in the past about Bernard, now commonly referred to in the Village as “Mayor.” Among Mayor’s numerous distinctives are:
1. He is my immediate neighbor;
2. He really knows how to work a camera, and
3. He seems to get a new shirt every 6-8 months and proceeds to wear it every day until it is in shreds and then he gets another new shirt to be worn the coming 6-8 months. No agonizing over “What shall I wear today?” for Mayor.  The first 6 months that I knew Bernard (4 years ago) he was wearing a dress. (Hey, it was handy) and I thought him to be a little girl.
Bernard when I first met him in his dress

Same dress, 6 months later

A Mayor who is just waaay too cool 
... but not too cool to work (in same shirt)
(Mayor's house is situated on the right of this path; mine is on the left) 
New shirt week
The shirt develops a fine patina
... and over time, an even finer patina
Bottoms up! Bucket bath time
Probably going to a wedding or his inauguration
Now to merge ingenuity, resourcefulness, and Bernard:

Bernard walked up to me a few days ago and called me on his freshly made mud cell phone, complete with keypad and antenna (available only in earth tones). We talked, and I took these photos of him on my iPhone, and Bernard, of course, took some cool pics of me with his mudPhone. Pretty fun.

All of this reminds me of a well-funded “Fellow” (i.e.,“scholar”) I met here as he was traveling the developing world to observe and study children at play, which generally required him to join in. (I want that job!) Your tax dollars hard at work. I took him to the Village, where he may have met Bernard. In all fairness, I really don’t think his research subject was such a silly one. Why do children play? Is it because they can’t find a good job? Who plays, when, and why? But the critical question may be: When and why do we stop? And most critically: Can we start again? My answer to that last question is an emphatic “Yes!”… and if you are interested in more specific details, just give me a ring on Bernard’s new mudPhone: +250 786182018. He will take a message.