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It has been a while since my last blog post because I have been so caught up in work here and just am being present in the moment (more on this later). If you are in a rush and want a quick recap of what happened in the past month or so, watch this video of the court progress and completion in Gikondo:
After a long, long process of turning in international-shipping-jargon laden forms to different people, paying different fees that magically appeared, and getting signatures from government officials all over town, we finally got our shipment out of Rwandan customs
That afternoon, Isa and I sorted out the shoes, which took quite a while. Some kids who walk through a sidewalk on the side of our house were utterly confused to see so many shoes put into a line and they just stared at us for 10 minutes while we sorted shoes and tied the strings together to the sounds of Fun.
We then started our coaching clinics at Club Rafiki. A solid group of coaches from SIRA Sports Inclusion has been coming once a week for 1-2 hours each time to learn to be coaches, for Isa and I aren’t going to be here forever. It is so nice to have a small, dedicated group. Being the guinea pigs, Isa and I tried to do a crash course, 3-day coaching clinic, and that simply doesn’t work. Our coaching clinics consist of going over rules and concepts, then some skill work and strategy. The biggest area of focus is learning terminology, so they can understand us when we refer to basketball jargon - jump to the ball, chin the ball, talk on defense, beat the man to the spot, pressure. We always finish the clinics by watching Coach Hurley’s DVDs and the guys love that part of it, especially when they recognize a word they have recently learned..
We have also been starting training very consistently a couple of teams throughout the week. Primarily, I have been doing the court construction and some practices while Isa has been doing an awesome job of coaching constantly and really improving some teams in Kigali. We have begun trainings at 3 different locations, and will start a fourth soon. This is all in an effort to have another huge tournament on March 10th at Club Rafiki, again, complete with a DJ, referees, giveaways, and a scoreboard
Since the last blog post we have completely finished our court construction at GS Mburabuturo – complete with the in-ground basket systems. Through the 3 day process of installing the baskets, I would be there with the masons and at least 10 to 15 kids would stand around and observe the entire process. Once the baskets were finally installed, I shot around with some kids, and the look on their face was priceless – laughing, giggling, throwing up airballs and not caring because they were having so much fun
I talked with the Headmaster at GS Mburabuturo and we planned to have trainings every morning at 9 AM there, and we went around to all the p5 and p6 classes (ages 12-15) to announce training. We capped the number of kids to be trained at 40 – 20 boys and 20 girls training at the same time, so each kid could develop and not just be a small fish in a big pond. Eventually, we hope to train and teach all the kids that want to participate, just not right now. On the first morning, 60 kids of the age we were supposed to train showed up, in addition to (no lie) 120 tiny little kids surrounding the court, cheering, laughing, running onto the court. It was complete chaos, and for our next training, Isa and I will be writing down 40 names and only training those kids. I didn’t know how to react – whether to be happy for the enthusiasm these kids were exhibiting, or to be impatient that we could not get our serious training going
Like much of my other experiences in Rwanda, the excitement of the first training – the elation experiences by the kids, the cheering, the energy – was all too good to be true, as we discovered our glass backboard had already been cracked by a rock. This really angered Isa and I – we had put so much effort to even get the baskets here, and had jumped through so many hoops – and 12 hours after we finished the court, one basket was unusable. Isa and I used this as a teaching point, and got all the kids together to pick up rocks and move them to the other side of the soccer field. The next day, I got some masons together and we dismounted the backboard, and will replace the glass with indestructible (I hope at least) backboards. In our training, our bosses talked about how big it is being the grantee to overcome challenges. Now, more than ever, I see what they were talking about. The backboard will be fixed soon and we hope to train a set number of kids as soon as possible!
Now, onto Rwinkwavu. In early February, Matt (the guy who runs the Library and Learning Center in Rwinkwavu) picked up the basket materials
In non-Shooting Touch related news, Isa, Jake, Jake’s roommates, and I all went to Kibuye (where we had went with Dom earlier this year) and had a great weekend
The language of communication as constantly changing, and I had a “living the dream” moment, realizing how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful place, talking with such a knowledgeable, diverse, fun group of people, on a vacation from my “job” which consists of teaching basketball. This did not fit into the “too good to be true” tradition - it was good, and it was true. On Saturday, we left for Amahoro Island (Amahoro means peace). On the way to Amahoro island, we stopped at Volcano island, and watched as some fisherman showed us something that I thought I would only see on the discovery channel
Some quick hits:
Rwandese squirt guns – Kids have them all over the place, a water bottle with a nail-sized hole in the cap. The kids squeeze the bottle and shoot a little stream at eachother.
Marble shooting – at GS Mburabuturo, there is always a circle of kids crouching down. I was wondering what they were doing so I checked it out and they play this game where you must flick a marble with your thumb at a marble, and if you hit it, you keep going, and it not, it’s the other persons turn. Little kids are awesome at it because their hands are so small. That is probably just a explanation for hwo bad I was at this game, because I missed the marble by 2 feet when I only shot it from a foot away.
Had a slight freak out moment when we were installing the baskets. Kids started taking the Styrofoam packaging and eating it. Once I realized this, I made all the kids spit it out, and then fled the scene (just kidding, everyone was ok). I guess you can’t blame the kids though, they probably had never seen Styrofoam before.
About earlier, I am living more and more in the moment here. My first 4 months, I was pretty frustrated with having time expectations, expecting things to work out perfectly because I had put in the preparation for them to turn out that way, and then being disappointed. I have learned that here, you just must focus on doing the best and most you can for one day, getting the most done, and being happy with it, because most of what prevents you from obtaining your expected results comes from outside forces.
Shooting Touch 2013-2014 applications have moved into the second round, and I am excited to see what next year’s prospective grantees have in store for us with their application videos. Moreso than anything, I am excited to see how the intros to their videos go, considering Isa and I’s intros were on point!
This was a huge blog, and I will wait a while until the next one, but I just wanted to thank everyone here and at home for all the work they have been doing. For those of you involved in the Court of Dreams fundraiser, I hope the video makes you feel proud!
Until next time,