Happy Late Veterans Day to Everyone
Let me first start off by saying everything in Rwanda is going very well. We’ve started our inter court games, got a huge influx of girl participation, and we’re holding our very first coaching clinic next week.
However, I would like to talk about an experience so eye opening and moving about the country I am inhabiting during these months…
It translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve a goal”
What it is in this context is a honored and mandatory ritual of community service that takes place on the last Saturday of every month. The whole country shuts down for half of a day. This means no stores are open, no motos are running, nobody doing any sort of business until the service is finished.
It was originally a traditional ritual, which would happen occasionally. In present times however, it has become essential to rebuilding the country after the genocide.
There has been successful Umuganda projects to build schools, medical centers, hydro electric plants and more. The estimated monetary value of Umuganda activities is well over 60 million dollars. *source rwandapedia.com
During my Umuganda experience I went with a friend to a nearby village, and was told the project was building a house for a veteran, who lost his home in a fire.
It was definitely an honor to be a part of something like this, and I got to take part of the activities of building such as getting water to mix the mud with, and throwing mud and “cow compost” onto mud bricks to finish the house’s outer layer.
I was definitely the crazy muzungu who came to help, and was the topic of all discussion among Rwandans. That is why I didn’t take any pictures of the event, I was just trying to be a part of it like everyone else. After the work I was exhausted, but satisfied knowing I directly did something to help build this house. I also got a huge understanding for Rwandans work ethic, carrying the jerry cans from the well to anywhere is no joke.
When everything was completed, the entire village came together to have a meeting, to talk about the work that was done, and to address any village news or concerns.
As it turns out they are looking to build a school, however they need a lot more money than they can afford. The project calls for 1.5 Million Rwandan francs which is only about 2,000 dollars. However the government only is willing to give 100 thousand, which is less than ten percent of the endeavor. So the village is looking for 10,000 RWF from everyone which is about 14 dollars, but in a country where most people only make a couple of dollars a day, it is a pretty big ask.
I donated what I could, but I couldn’t help but think if there was a way that I could fundraise for the rest. Although to be honest I have enough money and projects to manage just in the realm of Shooting Touch. It is admittedly hard because I know I can’t fix everything, but you know I want to try.
Back on the court, however, things are going well, and I just had a day I’ve been anxiously waiting for. I know I say this a lot in my blog, but this is something I really mean.
We finally got to give out the Lakers Jerseys!!! Back in the Summer the Los Angeles Lakers, donated so many things for the ST kids, that it all couldn’t even fit all in my Dad’s car. I’m talking over 200 jerseys for the kids, basketballs, t shirts, and more. I’m just astounded by the generosity from such a classy organization.
I know that their are probably a few Laker Haters in Shooting Touch, but there is absolutely no way you could hate on an organization bringing these kind of smiles.
We gave the jerseys out at the perfect time, as they were the rewards for doing so well with their respect lessons, and right when they are starting their inter-court league.
The games themselves have been very good. Even though the fundamentals still need to be hammered down, they are still competitive. The first game even went into overtime!
It seems like everything has a way of “coming together”.