An average day at the office for Gaudiose is far from average. The word average does little justice to that which the World Vision social worker, wife, family bread winner and mother of three boys and two adopted girls, experiences each day.
The Rwandan prefecture of Gikongoro is comprised of 12 communes. World Vision operates children's programmes in four of them. Nyamagabe, the most populous, is where Gaudiose both lives and works. Keeping her in constant motion are the child families with which she is charged.
"The official number of child families I work with is 120," Gaudiose states. "The real number, however, is much, much larger. In fact, it grows daily." Her dedication and the manner in which she approaches her work are the most likely reasons. As is her innate desire to help a child in need.
When Gaudiose issues a request to have heads of child families meet her at the Nyamagabe commune office, dozens appear. She does this on occasion so that more can be learned regarding what can be done to assist the children, as their circumstances are forever changing. "New faces are always surfacing," she smiles. "Gathering as we do allows the children to interact with each other. They learn that they are not alone and that there are others with similar troubles." Not all the children, however, are sincere.
Many that she meets have parents, yet choose to live on the street. Others are simply looking for a handout. Fifteen year-old Shirubute's case was somewhere in between.
He arrived one morning to the commune office, in dirty, torn and tattered clothes, anxious to tell his story. Gaudiose was pleased to meet him. When Shirubute told her that his parents had recently passed away and that he was now caring for his three sisters and two brothers, she naturally wanted to hear more.
"When a true head of a true child family needs assistance, they are not afraid to tell their entire story," Gaudiose shares. "Nor are they ashamed. They are often shy, but not ashamed."
Upon the conclusion of their conversation, Gaudiose asked if she could visit Shirubute and his family at their home. He balked. A trip to the family household is necessary to meet all the children and to conduct a needs assessment. His hesitating made Gaudiose suspicious.
She respected his reasons for not allowing her to visit and a future meeting was scheduled. "Children making the effort to see me is a good indicator that they are in need of assistance," she explains. It is Gaudiose's nature to give the new children she meets as much leeway as they need.
Shirubute honored their second meeting. Through a lengthy conversation, it was learned that the boy's parents were certainly dead and that Shirubute was the eldest of the six surviving siblings. Gaudiose also learned that all of the children were living with their grandmother and grandfather. "Sadly, this happens often," Gaudiose shakes her head. "If he was telling the truth and surely in need, we would do all that we are capable of to help his family."
With the dawn of a new tomorrow, Gaudiose is sure to meet more of Rwanda's estimated 300,000 children living in over 40,000 child headed families. She is also sure to meet more children like Shirubute. This she anticipates. "I pray it were possible to help all of Rwanda's children in need," she confesses. "Working one by one… we might just get there."
Captions: Gaudiose Gaudiose listens intently to Shirubute