Julie here with round up of Day 4 at Camp Hope Shines.
I’m a first time volunteer and find myself in another world here. First the kids treat us like celebrities, they are waiting for us at camp each day and run to greet us with hugs and smiles. Michael, one of the volunteers that has done this for many years, commented on that is why he comes back and misses it so much when going back to the states. Where in the states is a large group of kids going to give that much attention to you? So I get how it might be hard to go back to normal life after being here all week with these kids that think we are superstars.
Today the volunteers wore their college T-shirt that they graduated from, instead of the HS T-shirt. We are trying to impress on the kids the importance of staying in school. We all told our college stories in front of the students, but for me I was most impressed with our Rwanda volunteers stories. First they don’t have any college T-shirts, not a thing here, but their stories where so inspiring to me and most likely the kids, They are young adults like our HS kids, they have been given difficult starts in life. Most of them were affected by the 1994 genocide with losing family members, and being in poverty too. They have all taken the help that was given to them and worked hard to stay in school and go to university. These young adults are the bright future of Rwanda, and if they can graduate from university, the kids at camp this week can also succeed, with help that is given to them. It is just so inspiring to hear there stories, and work with them everyday. Most of them are translating for us, so they know at least two languages if not more. Our kids listen to all the college stories and gave the speakers their respect and attention. I was proud of them.
We had lots of sports today, after listening to our stories they were ready to go out and play. We had three members of the National Rwanda Cricket Team come and demonstrate the game of cricket. The kids all went up to a sports field that they have used this week, it has artificial turf on it. They had the kids in three groups and the kids were able to learn how to bat, throw a ball and catch. They burned off lots of energy. During lunch another member of the National Rwanda Cricket Team, Cathia Uwamahoro talked to them. She is famous for breaking a world batting record in cricket. She batted for 26 hours straight with only accumulating a 5 min break for each hour, she would go 8-6 hours at a time before taking a break. She is now in the Guinness Book of World Records. She also talked to the kids, like we had earlier in the day, to have dreams, set goals, and work hard to achieve a better life.
The lunch served by the mama’s today included silver fish for protein. This is the first time I have been served this, they look like minnows that I used to fish with. It’s a very popular meal here, at the markets they sell them by the pound or kilograms. I did chew them, and did eat the whole fish, but some of us did take off the heads and gave them to the kids, because they like them. I personally don’t like eyes looking at me from my plate.
After lunch the kids learned about airplanes, this ties in with our camp theme of “Soaring to New Heights” this year. They learned the parts of the plane, in English, assembled their own plane from a balsam wood kit and were very happy to take them home after flying them in the back yard.
We ended the day with dance. Dance is very important to these kids, if you’ve seen their performance from earlier posts, they are good! I’m not so good, but they have put me in charge of my group. I’m very thankful for help from my Rwanda vounteers, they help out a lot. After todays work, I think we might have a chance of winning the competition which is tomorrow. Wish us luck!
Once camp was done, we took a trip to a village outside of Kigali, to meet with nine women and talk about there experience with the genocide in 1994. Each women told us who they loss in the killings, and one women had lost everyone in her family. We were able to ask them anything, and I was surprised they were letting us strangers discuss such a terrible ordeal in their life. They told us they want people to know about the genocide, not to forget it and learn from it. We asked if they live around the killers and they are all neighbors. Rwanda has decided to go on with there future and not look into the past, as one women told us, we have to forgive “for ourselves”. It was very humbling to be in their presence and get to meet and talk to them.
We came back to our villa rather late today, ate together at the hotel and we are getting ready for the last day of camp tomorrow. Each kid will get a goody bag.
Even though I’m here as a volunteer to help, these kids I’m the one learning. I learn from the kids, love and joy, from our Rwanda volunteers to carry on even when you have hardships, and from the women in the village to forgive.
A full day in this “land of a thousand hills”
Goodnight from Colorado Volunteer