Observations & Interactions

Excerpts from a small blue journal:

October 6, 2016 – 10:30pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“The man who builds our courts, Emmy, came to visit tonight after practice in the village. He took his phone out of his pocket so we could exchange numbers and immediately, 25 kids surrounded him to stare at the bright screen.”


October 10, 2016 – 9:45am – Kigali, Rwanda

“It’s a cool thing, making a statement without having the intentions to do so. Inspiring others without trying. Changing mindsets by just living. Me, Lisanne, and her dog jogged through town today. Kids stared. Men stared. Women stared. An atypical act in this society; a female decides to exercise. A simple morning routine has the power to show women they can, show men that women can, and show the future generation kids that women are more than just mothers and cooks and cleaners. We push ourselves up the hill and I have a smile on my face knowing that this underlying message exists as two strong women and a dog carry on with their morning routine.”


October 14, 2016 – 12:30pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“It sort of hit me most, the fact that I’m actually in Africa, as I zipped through the low clouds on the back of a moto the other night, tree covered hills all around me, listening to ‘Where Is My Mind’ by the Pixies. How apropos…”


October 18, 2016 – 10:45pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“I cooked dinner for a family of 10 tonight. I ran home after practice, cut veggies and potatoes, made a tomato sauce, and boiled a huge pot of pasta. The Shooting Touch player whose family I was cooking for patiently waited at the end of my driveway in the dark as I finished up so he could show me to his home. We walked the food up the hill together. His home was dark inside, so I turned my phone’s flashlight on. I couldn’t believe their faces when I took the cover off the food; it was like I just revealed a million bucks. Claps, smiles, wide eyes. ‘Wow!’ So much joy. I can’t believe this mother has to cook for nine kids every night. She thanked me over and over, told me I was a good cook, and invited me for porridge the next morning.”


October 24, 2016 – 4:30pm – Kigali, Rwanda

“Avocados cost six cents here.”


October 30, 2016 – 1:45pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“This place is gorgeous, there is no doubt about that. I wonder if these impoverished kids stop to look and appreciate the beauty of their country around them.”


October 31, 2016 – 6:30pm – Nyamirama, Rwanda

“We visited a school in the North yesterday. One of the kids pulled me aside on the court to ask if there is something special that is put into the shoes of NBA players that allows them to dunk. ‘Like springs?’ I asked. ‘Yes, springs!’ I laughed. ‘No way man!’ ‘Ok so do they have special powers?’ ‘You think Michael Jordan has spe-‘ ‘Yes!’”


November 6, 2016 – 3:45pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“I was expressing my disappointment regarding a rained out practice to someone in the village the other day. They told me to not be upset. ‘The rain is a blessing’ she explained. They need it for the crops. They need it to survive. I will never complain about the rain again.”


November 29, 2016 – 4:15pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“Little Shema gets to the free throw line to shoot two foul shots. He airballs the first shot. When he gets the ball back from the referee to shoot his second shot, he passes it back, takes a step off the line, does two pushups, and asks for the ball back. He clanks the next shot off the backboard. What a goofy kid.”


December 2, 2016 – 9:00am – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“Last year I ate a Thanksgiving meal with a bunch of Israelis, a Canadian, a few Texans, a Philly girl, and a Cali girl in Tel Aviv, Israel. Last weekend I ate a Thanksgiving meal in Kigali with a few Belgians, a Hollander, a South African, and a few fellow Americans in Kigali, Rwanda. I wonder where and with whom my next Thanksgiving meal will be.”


December 4, 2016 – 1:00pm – Kigali, Rwanda

“I visited an art studio in the city yesterday. After having talked for some time to one of the artists working there, he brought me into his studio out back to show me a piece he was working on. It was a white canvas with a decorated African mask attached to it. Cutting through the mask was a metal machete. Below the mask was a metal bullet. The canvas was splattered in red paint. This country hasn’t seen disaster like that from its past in a long time, but the memories still linger.”



December 11, 2016 – 11:00am – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“I sit on a wooden school bench in a one-room school house. One of my players invited me to attend church with him a few weeks ago, so I go on Sundays when I’m around the village and don’t travel to the city. I have a friend sit next to me and translate. A girl stands up in front of the group this Sunday to thank God for her parents working their marriage out after separating when she was younger. Others go up to speak and everyone says really serious things regarding family and health. My Shooting Touch player goes up and thanks God for allowing him to win his game the previous day. Everyone in the church turns to look at me and laugh. I gave him the thumbs up.”


December 19, 2016 – 12:00pm – Kabarondo, Rwanda

“As I was leaving practice today, I heard a commotion from across the road. There was a circle surrounding two of our little kids, both no taller than my waistline. Nshimye and Rodrick. It was difficult to see the two, but as I approached I saw Nshimye’s right fist make perfect contact with Rodrick’s right cheek. I ran towards them and the circle of kids that was once encouraging the brawl, was now working to pull the kids off each other. With dirt and blood and angry faces, the two kids looked up at me.   Everyone started pointing fingers. After figuring it all out, with the help of Patrick (Rwinkwavu’s head coach), the two little boys hugged and everyone went their separate ways.”


December 20, 2016 – 8:45am – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“One of our women from the Nyamirama court came up to me to tell me that one of our other women from the court had lost her 26-year old son to malaria last week. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen her at practice for a few days. She always showed up to play. I found out where she lived, left practice with one of our other coaches, and went to give my condolences. She smiled as I hugged her but the atmosphere was incredibly somber. The son left behind not only his family, but his wife, pregnant with her soon to be first child. The next day I brought them food and money to cover the hospital bill. I wonder if she will find comfort in Shooting Touch and come back to practice…”


January 3, 2017 – 8:50pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“Every time a plane flies over the court or a huge truck drives by the main road, the kids stop playing and stare and point and make ‘Oo’s’ and ‘ahh’s’. This makes sense; these planes and trucks symbolize the greater world that’s out there that these kids only get to see in movies and read about in books and dream about at night. But never in my life have I seen kids stare so intently at a lawn mower like I did the other day. These kids are so impressed by machines that are so every day to me. I was walking home from practice when I witnessed the crowd of kids watching the lawn mower go back and forth over the lawn belonging to the founder of the hospital in Rwinkwavu. They stopped to watch the lawn mower- their show- and I stopped to watch their amazed faces- my show.”


January 6, 2017 – 2:00pm – Kayonza, Rwanda

“‘Chloe, do you know that you’re my role model in basketball?’ –Brendah (16 years old, Nyamirama).”


January 11, 2017 – 1:00pm – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“We gave one of our players, Chance, a ride home from practice today. I watched him as the car set in motion, wide eyes, big smile, clenched fists atop his knees. Like a little kid on a roller coaster (Chance is one of our older kids in the program by the way). Excited, high-pitched sounds came from his closed mouth. I just watched him from the front seat. When we reached his home, he confusingly looked for ways to open the door. He pressed the handle, then tried using his foot to push, then gave up. We helped him and he hopped out of the car, gave Lisanne and me a high five, and then galloped through his yard and into his house.”


January 15, 2017 – 10:15am – Kigali, Rwanda

“After having made teams at the Rwinkwavu court for all ages (with the intent of these teams being permanent), one of my junior coaches told me we had to change the women’s teams. I told him I have been recording wins and losses and we were already a month or so into play and it would be difficult to change the teams up now. He explained that a lot of our women are HIV+ and they get tired easily. They went to him to tell him to ask me if they could make their own teams and even out the stamina levels. This never crossed my mind, but it’s reality here. I try to know my players on a deeper level, off the court, as more than just basketball players, but some things take time. Now I know.”


January 18, 2017 –7:30am – Rwinkwavu, Rwanda

“Talked to Troy on the phone this morning. He told me the keys to happiness are friendship and sunshine. He was messing with me but these two things are actually working for me here…My wise little brother often reminds me how simple life can be.”


January 24, 2017 – 2:30pm – Nyamirama, Rwanda

“The woman from Nyamirama that lost her son to Malaria a few weeks back just recently returned to practice. She is smiling too. Glad our program could help with that.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s