So much has happened over the past month so let me jump right in and tell you about Matt, Lisanne, her brother, and my trip to Uganda and white water rafting down the Nile River! I think the pictures speak for themselves! Everyone had a great time! Simply put, it was Amazzzinnngg!!!
As I mentioned in my last blog, we had some important guests that came to visit: Shooting Touch Co-Founder, Lindsey Kittredge; Past Fellow, Leah Westbrooks, Megan Howard, Justine Lyons, Christine Mahoney, and students and coaches from Nobles High School came out for a visit. The kids loved them all! While they were her, we visited SACCA Girls Orphanage. We played some games with them and Dr. Mahoney led them with health lessons. Leah started off the day at SACCA with some leadership activites that I thought was great for the girls to be a part of! After all of the activities we even all got in a group and danced in the rain together. It was definitely a highlight of the week for our visitors. This day was only one example of some of the great things our visitors did on their visit here. They definitely made an impact on things out here.
Our tournament went extremely well. We had youth participating from all of our courts. All of the games were very exciting, there were fans on the sidelines cheering so loud at times you couldn’t hear people talking next to you. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of. All of the coaches of Shooting Touch did a great job too! They were all on their ‘A Game’. No matter what they were doing, if it was keeping score, refereeing, getting water for players, or helping coach, they all did a great job at what their task was. Now we are in the process of preparing for the basketball league play. Me and Matt are going to set up the league game schedule in the next few days. All of the kids are getting very excited for the games to started.
At the tournament, a scout was there and offered one of our players from Kayonza Nkundwa Thierry, the opportunity to attend school in Northern Rwanda, all expenses paid and the chance to play on their basketball team. Just another great example of how sports play such an important part in life. This young man will get an advanced education while continuing to play the sport that he loves! Congratulations Theirry! I am very proud of you and your accomplishments.
The team participated in a community service project of building a home. The typical way people in the states build a house is definitely not the same way they build homes out here. Their houses are made of mud and people literally stomp in the mud barefoot when building the home. It was one of the most educational opportunities I have witnessed firsthand while being here in Rwanda. It was great to see how everyone comes together to help one another out here. These small communities truly do take care of one another.
The President of Rwanda came through Kayonza this week. There were so many cars racing through, so fast. My landlord works directly for the president, but things happened so quickly, I wasn’t able to see if he was there or not. It was a quick moment of excitement for this small community. There were people out on the streets with drums greeting the president as he passed through and showing their appreciation for him. As he passed through I think he even waved right at me! 🙂 Haha.
A special thank you to everyone from the Nobles School in Boston for all of the gear they brought out for the kids here. We gave out a ton of shoes, shorts, shirts, socks, sweatbands. The kids were extremely appreciative. I truly enjoyed seeing the pleasure on their faces. It was like christmas morning for these kids getting all of this new gear and seeing their faces light up. Truly a pleasure to see and to be a part of something so special like this.
This week is now Remembrance here in Rwanda. It’s a time in which everyone remembers their loved ones that were taken from them during the Genocide. No one works during this time of remembrance. We will not be coaching. There is going to be an event of remembrance at the stadium in Kigali. I plan to attend the event with some of the locals. This will probably be the most difficult of times I will experience while out here. However, it will also be the most educational time as well. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of these families during this most difficult time.
I have learned so much since being out here in Rwanda. And I am constantly learning. I recently learned how to drive a stick shift! That was fun! I only stalled the vehicle once! I still am not sure when exactly to shift, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. 🙂
We had inter-court scrimmages in which we had the kids that go to school in Kayonza (home teams) took on the kids that go away to school (visiting teams). The fans were going crazy! The visitors team won the primary game. The secondary kids’ game was really intense. The visiting team won the secondary game as well. However, it made for the most interesting game of the day. The home team was down by 20 points at one time and they came back to within 2 points. The home team could have won the game, but there were four kids that didn’t play at all and it was getting dark so I made sure to get them into the game and play at least 5 minutes. This was a game that was played simply for fun and experience so and I wanted to stress the importance of teamwork. Everyone tries their hardest during practices so I felt it was a great chance to ensure that everyone got to play and demonstrate what they learn during practice. The kids were cheering so hard for their teammates. It showed a great sense of comradery. I am proud of everyone!
I hope everyone back home had a Happy Easter. I missed being home with family and friends; but, if I couldn’t be home with my loved ones, there is not other place I could imagine being than right here with my extended family and newfound friends in Rwanda! Everyone here helps to make being away from home during hard times much easier.
In closing, I would like to send out a special thank you and welcome to Amy Latimer, President of Boston’s TD Garden, to the Shooting Touch Board of Directors. I look forward to meeting you and to sharing my experiences with you.