Thanksgiving in Rwanda

Well, we are officially done with month 2 of this incredible year, and things have been going very well this past week, after a hard time of being sick.

First things first, Patrick our Director of Curriculum is out here from America, and he is staying out here for a month which is going to be a big help. I know we will be doing even bigger things with him here.

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As I have completed my second month I am definitely getting better at being a coach, and things are definitely running more smoothly. It has been a big help though because the kids are all willing to help out. That has been one of the biggest things I have noticed in the last few weeks, the kids have been asked to take on more responsibilities, and they are taking it all so well.

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There has been no better example of this than in our newest development in Rwinkwavu. We have had seen a huge surge of girls coming out to play in the last few weeks. We will consistently get 50 girls out to the court, and there has been a time when we got 80 girls! It’s a mind-boggling number, and something I am so excited for, but I definitely need help with that many girls.

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What has happened is you are seeing the kids taking what they have learned from years spent with Casey, Isa, Kevin, Priscilla, Lisanne, and Remy and teaching the girls the very basics of the game. We will have stations with a few of our Shooting Touch vets, and Jr. Coaches showing them how it is done. They are giving them pointers on the fundamentals, and I really wish all the past fellows could see them now because it is great to watch.

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Speaking of Coaching, Jazz and I are holding our first Coaching Clinic. They are learning the fundamentals through the legendary Bob Hurley, and also about the roles, responsibilities of coaching through the NBA Live Learn & Play program. We are giving them the knowledge of new drills to bring back to the court, but also they are taking in lessons on responsibility, respect, how to handle conflict, reaching hard to reach youth and much more. Also, they are getting Health lessons from a great person who works at the Kayonza Health Friendly Center.

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Finally, we have Thanksgiving weekend which was one for the ages. Leading up to Thanksgiving I hadn’t even noticed that the season was drawing near. I guess without constant advertisements, marketing, and people talking about Black Friday it can kind of slip your mind. However when the time came everything went way better than I could have expected.

First on Thursday night, Pat’s second night here, we were invited to the Partner’s in Health Thanksgiving Dinner, which had all the fixings I was dearly missing, they had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and even dessert! Now I’m usually a polite person, but when it came time to eat I was definitely making my way to the front of the line, and taking a healthy helping. You have to take the opportunity to have food from home out here, trust me.

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Then on Friday, we had an easy day of the Coaching Clinic, we only had one health lesson and then we had the kids watch Coach Carter. Afterward we took the kids out to lunch which was also delicious, but more of the Rwandan variety, although there was chicken. We taught the kids about the meaning of Thanksgiving, and everyone went around and said what they were thankful for. Finally, we showed our thanks by telling all the Jr. Coaches, we appreciated all their hard work over the past few weeks, and we would be giving them something special. We finally got to give out shoes to these kids who definitely deserve it. A big thanks to Kick Dreams United for giving so many shoes, and providing us with this opportunity to make Thanksgiving great!

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Later on in the weekend, the Thanksgiving feeling was spread to Umuganda. I explained what Umuganda is in my last blog post, so if you aren’t familiar you should check it out. Anyways Umuganda took place right next door to my house! It was a great day, as Pat came out, and a bunch of the ST kids saw us working, and came out to join us. We all were working hard, and it was great to see all of us come together to help a neighbor. Even the Mayor of Kayonza showed up, as well as the Minister of Development, which was great. We all were having fun, and there were a lot of smiles, but we were also working hard, and finished making his house after a few hours of moving bricks and throwing mud. Again this man is a veteran, and he was so gracious and thankful to all of us. I know when I pass his house, I will have a great sense of accomplishment, and a good memory of a great day.

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And what’s is Thanksgiving without some friendly games? All weekend long I have been having games in Nyamirama, and Rwink to determine which team will be participating in our GBV Awareness Tournament coming up on December 5th.

I’m definitely excited for the tournament, and all of our other projects coming up in the next few weeks. This month will be incredibly busy, but well I think this picture explains how well things are going out East.

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