Born of a mason father and a mother who is a roasted corn seller; Fils is an 8 years old boy. His parents rent a house of two rooms in a middle class neighborhood of Kigali. 10k per month is all they can afford with their low daily wages.
They form a large family of ten people. Fils has seven siblings; his older brother is eighteen years old and able to stand on his own two feet, he left the nest at an early age of fifteen and lives with friends of his who are load carriers. The eighth and youngest of their family is Minani; in Rwandan culture the eighth child of every family is named such. He is nine months old and like his brothers and sisters already knows how it feels to eat a single meal each day.
Fils is the fourth born. He and his siblings are nothing but skin and bones. Breakfast is not an option; everyone has to share the little insufficient meals their mother serves at lunch and many nights they sleep famished because their mom sold all the corn so that she can buy more food for lunch.
Their house has two rooms and two beds. They don’t have mattresses, therefore they lay their clothes on their beds to make it softer. The youngest two sleep in the same bed with their parents and the rest sleep horizontally to fit in the other bed. The bed is placed in what is supposed to be the sitting room which now serves as an all in one room. The dishes, jerry cans and clothes thrown in boxes are kept under their bed.
There is a particular time of day that Fils hates. The time between 11 a. m and 1 p. m is such an ordeal for him. This is the time the whole neighborhood smells like a five star restaurant. The smell of fried spices! For an eight years old and relentlessly starving boy, to imagine that one day he will eat a full meal or eat a meal that smells the same; it is a dream that is far from coming true.
Fils and his younger brothers know the exact time that each of their closest neighbors eat lunch. He is smart enough to know that people are moved by children and will not eat without giving them some food. He is also smart enough to know that people will get annoyed with them if they show up every day. He leads their group of three and he chooses which house to pay a lunch visit.
Fils’s life changed for the first time when his parents decided that they couldn’t bear living such a poor life in such an expensive Kigali anymore. They moved back to the village. Fils grew up in Kigali and town boys never adapt to the village life. As the saying goes once a town boy always a town boy, so he chose to stay.
As he laid down his head on a wrapped towel which he used as pillow; in a tiny house where he joined his older brother, he sighed! Will this life change? Will I ever be someone important? Will I be one day able to help my family? Many unanswered questions traveled through his mind before he fell asleep.
Slow but steady wins the race; Fils offered his help to a welding studio where he was paid in meals. He won the owner’s heart with his hard work so in turn the owner taught him how to weld. With his first real salary he bought himself doughnuts and orange Soda. For the first time he felt proud of himself. Finally one of his dreams had come true.
One day he saw a street boy high on glue; the boy looked terribly high and starving. When the boy went to the same canteen as Fils to buy a doughnut; Fils bought him a second one. At this moment Fils felt rich but mostly he felt compassionate. His compassion was born out of what he experienced during his childhood and enabled him to help someone.
Walking back to his job, a thought came to his mind: “as long as I breathe; I promise to achieve great things for me and my family”. Life will surely hit him with its ups and downs but with his perseverance he shall go far. He is strong as he feels like he has already faced the worst. Will I ever become someone important? He nodded his head: I shall be, yes! I never thought I could be here! How beautiful is the soul of a child!