Getting restless at home during COVID-19? Jean Claude and his sons just need papier-mâché!

In Rwanda, UNICEF’s Jean Claude Rukundo and his sons just need paper, water, and common household objects to spend time together, learn, and express their creativity!

By Veronica Houser
Two young Rwandan boys, sons of UNICEF staff Jean Claude Rukundo smile with their new papier mache creations the made during COVID-19.
UNICEF/UNI354464/Kanobana
28 July 2020

MUSANZE, Rwanda – When Rwanda confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in March, the Government responded swiftly with school closures and a two-week initial lockdown.

Jean Claude Rukundo, UNICEF Communication for Development Officer, had plenty to do while working from home, but with five young boys in his care, he needed more activities to keep them occupied.

“My wife and I have four sons and their young cousin living at home, all between ages 5 and 13,” says Jean Claude. “They are very diligent following their school lessons via radio, television or on the e-learning platform, but I wanted to find more activities for them which are fun but also keep their brains working.”

 

UNICEF staff Jean Claude helps his son Ethan, 13, and Elon, 6, create colourful objects from discarded paper and water during the COVID-19 lockdown in Rwanda.
UNICEF/UNI354462/Kanobana
Jean Claude helps his son Ethan, 13, and Elon, 6, create colourful objects from discarded paper and water.

 

Jean Claude called his boys’ teacher for some ideas and decided to help his boys decorate household objects using ‘papier-mâché’ or ‘mashed paper’ and paint.

“I encouraged my boys to look up the instructions online by themselves,” Jean Claude recalls. “They made a list of all the necessary materials and my wife and I provided them.”

“It is very easy and something many families can do at home! It only requires discarded paper, water and cassava flour, plus some paint if you have it.”

Arts and crafts created by UNICEF staff Jean Claude and his sons during Rwanda's COVID-19 lockdown.
UNICEF/UNI354453/Kanobana
Arts and crafts created by UNICEF staff Jean Claude and his sons during Rwanda's COVID-19 lockdown.
UNICEF/UNI354447/Kanobana

Pictured above: Some of the objects created by Jean Claude and his boys using discarded paper, water, cassava flour and paint. Some objects are original creations while others decorate common household objects.

“I love these activities. It makes me feel like I am capable of doing great things, and I feel proud to see our decorated materials around the house and being put to use.”

Ethan, 13

“We learnt how to decorate waste bins, create different ornaments and animal figures, and letters of the alphabet,” says Nziza Evan, 11.

Jean Claude and his wife make sure to use the objects their children made. As much as possible, he displays their ornaments and animal figurines around the house.

“I like seeing handmade things at home, and I want my children to know that we are acknowledging their effort and creativity,” he says.

 

Eddy, 4, son of UNICEF staff Jean Claude, creates artwork using discarded paper during the COVID-19 lockdown in Rwanda.
UNICEF/UNI354450/Kanobana
Eddy, 4, mixes paint to decorate some of his artwork made at home using discarded paper.

 

Jean Claude continues to consult with his sons’ teacher for more engaging activities at home. Since schools in Rwanda will remain closed until September, he tries to suggest a variety of fun, creative and mentally stimulating things to do together.

“I encourage all parents to find creative things to do at home with their children,” says Jean Claude. “It often does not require many resources but really helps us bond as a family and allows my children to learn while having fun.”