Post written by Lisanne Comeau
It has come down to the last 2 months of my journey as a fellow, and I still feel like Remy and I have so much to do. We have been so busy with practices, games, meetings, etc. that it doesn’t feel like it is ever going to end, but before we know it we will be in our last week here wondering where all the time went. Eight months have passed and I know that I speak for both of us when I say that we have acquired skills that we can now pass down to the next grantees. These range from creating Imovies and writing formal documents to learning how to drive a moto and bargaining with vendors. The list is endless. Yet, I know our journey is far from over and we have more to learn.
Our major concern right now is getting international NGO status in Rwanda. Previously, we had local status, however, we have been informed that we now need international status. This means getting a meeting with the Ministry of Sport, an action plan, a budget for the next year, creating a hierarchy of coaches, and so on. It is a lot of work but at least we know now that we are on the right path and things for Jasmine and Matthew (next year’s Fellows) will be all set.
Our next project is getting lights at each court. By the time the kids get out of school and get to the court it is around 5:15 pm and completely dark by 6:30pm. Although we still need approval and quotations we are hoping that we can get this done before Remy and I leave.
Along with this, we are coaching and playing games on the weekends. The last games played were Rukara and Nyamirama where Rukara came out strong, winning 2 of the 3 matches. We are also in the process of getting 2 interns from Kepler University. We are looking for 1 intern to focus on health and the other to focus on marketing. It is quite difficult for Remy and I to juggle everything during events and games, so this will not only give the students some experience, but will help us with managing. Thankfully we have been granted with an intern from the US. She was born in Rwanda but raised in the US, she can speak fluently in both languages and is doing research for Shooting Touch. She is great to have around and has proven to be a big help with getting things done. It’s definitely nice to have someone who can speak the language around at practice, not to mention to help us translate documents.
Yesterday Remy and I watched the Under 16 Rwanda National team play against the Ethiopian National team. It is clear to see that the youth need to be developed and coached more. They have great size but their fundamentals are in dire need of some attention. Although Rwanda lost by about 15 points, it was great to see where our kids stand next to the national team. The one thing that stood out was how much bigger these Kigali kids are. Our kids are going to need to bulk up and eat if they want to take basketball to the next level.
Rem and I are hoping to set up a friendly match between our best kids and the Under 16 Rwandan team. The head coach of the team I play for coaches the national team as well, so I am hoping that we can get this match set up soon.
Aside from the coaching and basketball, Remy and I had to say goodbye to our closest friend, boss, sister, and the list goes on. Isa is one of a kind, I have truly never met anyone like her and I’m sure anybody that knows her will say the same. When I was at the Gala everyone would talk about her and say how fun and crazy she was. Now I know why. I don’t think she has met a song she doesn’t like, and a place she doesn’t have a story for. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they wish they could be like her, simply happy and enjoying every day. I can’t remember one time where I wanted to do something and she rejected the idea. She is always up for an adventure, even if she is going on 2 hours of sleep. I feel like I could go on forever about her because she has helped Remy and I tremendously since we stepped out of our planes on October 1st. She would constantly say that she couldn’t hold our hands forever, yet I never believed that she would actually leave. She has completely embraced Rwanda and the people here as her family. She will be missed, cyane!