Conclusion and the Beginning

Today was fun from the start. Woke up bright and early to the “TeraMACKdyl” at 5:30am and couldn’t get him to sleep. I guess a wet diaper will cause that. So the whole group was tired but also pumped for a great fun-filled last day.

One of the election rooms we cleaned and contributed to the decorations during Umaganda.

The thumb print if how people vote here. They place their thumb print over their candidate’s photo.

Walking to elections.

This morning we started early because of the election. We arrived at the Hope Shines learning center at 9am then walked up to the school that was used for the voting today. This is the same school we cleaned last week for the Umaganda Day so it was cool to see all the decorations they had up and we were proud to be a part of the big day. As I write this, they are still tallying the results but most Rwandans feel there is a clear winner.

The final camp day is always fun and super packed because we try to squeeze in as much curriculum, excitement, and love into those last moments. It’s truly a testament to the volunteers and staff that we do that because it shows we care and we all really made some great memories.

Balloon rockets was the last lesson today where balloons are attached to fishing line and the groups compete to see what makes the balloon rocket go the furthest. The kids loved it and smiles were all over the place.

A live performance by our translator Simeon.

Cakes from the Women’s Bakery.

Graduation concluded the day and the kids got certificates for completing the week and even special awards were given to those campers that achieved the most in their groups. Dance, cake (from our local partner friends at The Women’s Bakery), and Fanta consumed the remaining moments today and there were even some tears shed. One of our regular translators/facilitators broke out the guitar and snag some beautiful songs for the group. It was a great way to end a long and successful and enlightening camp

As Executive Director, I am forced to view camp and Hope Shines from a different lens than say our volunteers and other staff. I see this program as another channel to reach the children in a positive way. The more times we can do this, the better the chances are of producing a child that grows into a leader. I am more committed more than ever after this year in Rwanda. I visited with many of the families in their homes and saw the struggle they face and I want to do more. I saw tears from a young girl that won an award today that reminded me that recognition of a child’s existence and efforts can change a life perhaps. I worked alongside new volunteers that literally worked their butts off to stay alert, interact with children, be mentors to them, and suck up the tiredness each day to get the most out of this experience. I also saw my son be so loved by the children every second of the day, knowing that these children will never have as much privilege and opportunity as Mack, yet they (and all the other Rwandese we know) don’t care and they show love. It was all moving to me.

Our entire staff for this year’s camp.

BUT, this is fuel for the fire for me, and us, at Hope Shines. We will continue to change the trajectory of the lives here in Rwanda and we will strive to empower them and help them see and be prepared for any opportunity that presents itself. My hope is that we can do this with support at home and in country. What a great experience and another year that has again changed the course of my life and my family’s.


Executive Director and All Around Big Kid

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