To Shower or Not to Shower
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Sunday, Isa had practice with an Ubumwe team (Ubumwe is a youth basketball organization here as well, but has adult players) at the Sprite court (called club Rafiki) at supposedly 10 AM. So we get there right at 10, and of course, the coach, nor any of the other female players are there. So, we just played pickup basketball. The drop off from pro-ball to pick up ball here is not that big, except in pickup ball, people just hack you all day, and don’t consider it a foul. Also, travels are non-existent. However, for some reason, one person watching the game on the side was also refereeing, which would never happen in the U.S. Anyways, Isa and I were lucky enough to have the coach of UGB and Ubumwe basketball – Jacques (also the guy who spent this last summer in the US at college coaching clinics) on our team, so we fared pretty well. After reeling off 3 straight wins, we eventually lost, but it was hilarious to see people’s reactions when Isa or I scored. I was completely limited to shooting 3s because 1. I was wearing low cut reebok zigs, so I was afraid to cut (by the way those are my favorite shoes anyway Justin) and 2. Its pretty hard to drive past anyone when they closeline (ok, that was a small exaggeration) you every time and it doesn’t result in a foul call. It felt so good to play with solid, smart basketball players, and it was one of my favorite moments so far on the trip. After pickup ball ended, Isa practiced a bit with her team while I worked out on the dip bars and pull up bars
We then came home, planned for this week, and relaxed. Monday, we planned some more, failed at an attempt to get a concrete guy to survey the building of a CHRISC court, and I had practice while Isa stayed home. After practice, Isa and I went to Soleil Luna – a really fancy pizza and beer place that overlooks a huge valley of Kigali. I felt like I was at a tropical resort. The pizza was great and we joined a trivia team with a thirty-something guy and two-fifty something guys. At first, I thought we were just going to have small talk, but Isa and I stayed until 11:45 - when they kicked us out, drinking cheap Primus beer and talking. It turns out they were ex-servicemen who now work for a government contracted agency in coordination with the UN. Basically, they have been all around the world, mostly Africa, training the military of nations that border conflict zones to go in and be peacekeepers. More specifically, one of the guys taught war ethics (quite an oxymoron, I know) – to not take bribes, when to shoot, when not to shoot, while another guy taught emergency medical care. They shared stories of their time in the service, the rivalry that exists between different branches of the services and all of their experiences in all different African countries
The most powerful thing they told us was that, even though guys like them, who are near the front lines of conflict in Africa and refer to NGOs as “Naughty Girls Organizations,” that really, we are both doing the same thing, or in Skip’s words, “climbing the same mountain, just from different sides” in that we are both inspiring hope
Tuesday, Isa and I had a pretty packed day, as we went to meet with the AGR Youth Center – where we had played on the very first day we arrived here, and talked about partnering with them to use their court and train their coaches. They were very receptive to our idea, and Isa and I were pleased to learn that they already have a bunch of people who volunteer at the center to educate their kids about health risks, which is a part of Shooting Touch’s program. After that meeting, we walked down a giant hill for 40 minutes and arrived at the religious school where there are three basketball courts and cows roaming the fields. There, we met the Father and the Superintendent. Through 1.5 hours of meetings with bad language barriers, they agreed to let us renovate their court in exchange for allowing us to use the space and hold our coaching clinics and camps there. Also at the meeting was Robert, who heads Ubumwe. He is partnering with us to allow us to train his coaches, and is going to be a big help because he may set one of us up with a homestay when we travel to Butare to build a court and run camps and clinics there. From there, Isa went home and I went to the UTC to eat some dollar zucchini bread and a buffet, and to hangout before I was to head to practice
Wednesday was a nice, relaxing day. We term this our “office day.” Here, we got some sleep, read, did some things around the house, and typed up official proposals and plans to our partners. Spent a good chunk of the day in Bourbon coffee – our hangout with banging banana bread and zucchini bread (served warm) and free, fast internet. Finished our minute-by-minute 3-day coaching clinic plan, and se the temporary dates for October 29-31, so coaches will be ready to help our camps starting November 12th when the kids get out of school. We are expecting over 40 coaches to attend the clinic!
Thursday we did some more planning, some more paperwork. I had a meeting with FERWABA and my UGB team president. In order for me to play in FERWABA (the bball federation of Rwanda), I need to be cleared by USA basketball
Later that night, I went to practice. Practice has really been picking up. I have lowered my standards from a college practice, where things move on the minute, to a more relaxed, learning environment. I decided this is the where basketball is at here right now, and there is no need to fight it, so I started enjoying myself, and fooling around with the guys, which has been fun. In one last conditioning drill, I was paired up with this guy named Master P (probably not his real name) (he’s the clownest bball player I’ve ever played with so we get along well), and we each have to run 3, then 2, then 1 down and back, relaying off to the next person
Last night, stayed up until 2 AM here to gamecast the Tiger's game, I was quietly getting so hype while everyone in the house slept peacefully. I'm going to try my hardest to catch some of the World Series on TV here!
Some TIA moments - the busses again. The guys who collect the change and hop off the busses sell the CRAP out of their busses. It is so strange to me, because they are selling their destination like the next best thing, but in my head, I’m like “doesn’t the customer determine where he wants to go on busses?”
Most awesome and most disturbing moments of our time in Africa - While waiting at a bus stop to head home from Bourbon Coffee Wednesday night, we saw a man hit an older (like 50+ year old) woman, and she fell to the ground. Isa and I were fuming, but didn’t want to step in because we don’t know how that goes down in Rwanda. Two armed military guys came over, and did nothing, let the guy walk
Up for this weekend/next week - Saturday - we have a training session at the religious school (one of our tradeoffs so we can use their courts for the coaching clinics), Sunday Isa has practice, and we may head to the genocide memorial. Monday and Tuesday, Isa and I plan on going out to Butare and Gisenyi to scout places where courts will be beneficial. Then rest of the week, try to meet other organizations.
Also concerning buses, I decided I’m going to catalog each cool bus sticker. So far we have B.O.B., “Che Viva,” and some others. Isa and I decided we will make a whole photo album dedicated to bus stickers.
Another TIA moment – I showered for the first time in 6 days. I am only half-justifying this because on the 3rd day, I went swimming.