Hannah here! 5 time Hope Shines volunteer, 5 time visitor to Rwanda. I’m back in my second home, with my second family and I couldn’t be happier.
Today was the Hope Shines 2017 Camp Orientation. A day filled with new friends, new places and new experiences.
We started bright and early with an introductory meeting with the volunteers and local translators. From the ice breakers we learned a lot of the team come from large families, that there are a few secret contact lens wearers, that most of the team are in their twenties (much to one particular team members dismay) and that we may have an internal competition on our hands, as a couple of people in the group believe that they are the funniest person they know!
The team familiarized themselves with the camp curriculum and focussed on how they would work together throughout the week to deliver the best camp for the kids.
After lunch, we jumped in our trusty van (which has air conditioning this year!), to head to the Genocide Memorial Centre. There the new volunteers were introduced to the history of Rwanda and reminded just why Hope Shines exists. Rwanda suffered a mass genocide in 1994, killing almost 1 million people. Since then, Rwanda and its people have worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges of rebuilding their country. When you are in Rwanda you cannot only see but truly feel the countries ambition and determination to be a strong unified nation, focussed on future generations. This was even visible for us today when we attended an event at Gisimba Memorial Centre, in Nyamirambo. This event was organized for various youth groups in Kigali, specifically vulnerable youth. Each group performed for an audience of hundreds of locals. There was a range dancing, singing, traditional Rwandan dance (inhore) and acting. Just watching these kids, knowing the daily struggles they face, was breathtaking. It was particularly special for the Hope Shines team as our very own children were one the groups performing. I can’t explain how much my heart swelled, when I watched our kids step into the middle of the playground with big smiles on their faces. They performed an incredible traditional Rwandan dance, fit with traditional dress and drums. They also sang an original Hope Shines song, which filled my eyes with very very happy tears. They wrote the song themselves; “We are Hope Shines. We are the future!”. The event was centered around friendship and supporting each other to lead strong and positive lives. A speech from Mr Gisimba himself drove this home, a man who saved hundreds on lives at Gisimba orphanage during the genocide.
As the sun set, we hugged and congratulated our little Hope Shines stars on their performance. We bid them “Nahejo” (see you tomorrow), everyone got very excited for camp to start in the morning, personally I can’t wait!
I finish this post by saying thank you. Thank you for reading and for supporting Hope Shines; an organization that changes lives, including mine. I’ll leave you with the words from our children that I couldn’t have put better myself; We are Hope Shines. We are the future!