Now on the plane, heading home from a 10 month journey, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I have completed my sabbatical. When I first arrived in October I was so excited to begin a new journey, to overcome obstacles and through that learn more about myself. I find myself asking what exactly that is but it is hard to be so precise after going through such a long journey. I think when anyone moves to a foreign place, the first few weeks are extremely exciting. You get to see new things, meet new people, etc. I remember the first practice we went to in Nyamirama; there had to be at least 70 kids in attendance. They were so excited and eager for Remy and I to coach them and we were eager to share our knowledge as well. I felt such an overwhelming joy and knew that I had made the right decision in coming to Rwanda.
Not that this feeling had faded, but after about 2 months I felt home sick. You are expected to miss certain foods, hot showers and family, but there are some unexpected ones that come up as well such as drinking tap water. Things come so easy in North America: if you want to take a shower you take a shower, you want to warm something up to eat you pop it in the microwave. I want to make it clear that my conditions were in no way, shape or form “bad”. Things were just a bit more difficult to attain. I didn’t have a shower, but a bucket that I would fill up and use a cup to scoop up the water. We would boil the water and combine it with cold water to get enough to bathe with. The power went out at least 5 times a week. There was a point in time where we had no water and had jerry cans filled up and brought to our house. Aside from living necessities there were always obstacles with work related things, like printing. You would not believe how long it takes to get things printed. I am considering even bringing one from home for when I return. I can rant all day about printers but that’s just one of the struggles Remy, Isa and I had. Also, it is exhausting trying to get things done when you don’t speak the common language, Isa had taught me a good amount but the first couple months were a struggle. Getting around, buses breaking down, going back and forth with moto drivers about prices, and etc. Needless to say, I was missing the comforts of home.
It was around January where I really started to enjoy my time in Rwanda. I had adapted to the lifestyle and was embracing every moment. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have my hard days but I enjoyed being around the kids, my women during our exercise class, and going back to Kigali to hang out with the friends that I had made in the city. I was also playing for a team there so I had that aspect as well.
Both Remy and I had adapted and were enjoying our time, yet we were still excited to get back home. However, as the time started ticking down to our departure date, we didn’t want to go. Saying goodbye to the kids was tough. Although I will be back it’s hard to be away from them. I can’t imagine how the former grantees did it. I would be a mess right now if I knew that my time in Rwanda was up.
All in all I can say that I made the most of my time out there; some of my biggest accomplishments are getting the court built, starting my women’s exercise class, and successfully creating a youth league. My best moments come from the smiles and cheers on the court, whether it be a child or an adult having a moment in their day that they would always remember and knowing that we created that environment is so rewarding.
I am really looking forward to getting back to Rwanda and to see the growth of this program. We have so much more to accomplish and I believe that Matt and Jazz will be able to keep moving forward with what was started back when Casey and Isa back in 2012.