Saturday, February 13, 2010

Constantine and Fidele

Every day I learn more and more of my students’ names and faces. More than a few students have sought me out to discuss American politics, world events, my opinions of Rwanda vs. America, and the possibility of studying at an American university. In stilted English, they relate to me their problems and their dreams.

Today a Senior 4 (10th grade) student, Constantine, chatted with me for a good 45 minutes about his home life and his schooling. He dreams of becoming a doctor. During the course of our talks, Constantine told me that he suffers from terrible headaches and that his eyes are extremely photosensitive. Desperate for a cure, his family took him to a traditional healer who informed them that Constantine’s eyes were “poisoned.” Now I’m certainly no optometrist, but his symptoms are identical to those from which I suffered before I finally got my glasses. All the boy needs is a new pair of specs!

I traded glasses with Constantine long enough for me to confirm that his prescription was extremely weak—little better than no glasses at all. When I told Constantine that I thought he needed a stronger prescription, he responded as I knew he would—his family can’t afford to buy him new glasses. A visit to the optometrist and a new pair of glasses would cost $50-$60, roughly equivalent to his school fees for an entire year (I had misstated the amount for school fees as $250 in a previous blog).

This is the second student whom I’ve spoken with who suffers from poor vision. Last week, one of my Senior 5 students, Fidele, informed me that he couldn’t see my Power Point presentation. I suspect that I have numerous students in need of a decent pair of glasses. These are extremely bright kids who struggle daily with a problem that no American kid need suffer from. So, my dear blog readers, if you are interested and able, please consider donating money to help me buy Constantine and Fidele new eyeglasses. You may contact me via email at for details. In Rwanda, something so seemingly small can change a kid’s life forever.


  1. i have several old pair of glasses sitting around waiting to donate. would sending these your way be helpful at all?

  2. Hold that thought, idlechic! I may soon begin accepting donations of old eyeglasses, but I first need to contact some local optometrists who can put the glasses to good use!