10:40pm and the day just ended. Started with a 5:20am wake up followed by a run in and around Kigali at 5:30AM. Yes, my morning ritual that repeats itself most mornings here in Africa was experienced again today. Running outside as the city life begins is my time to take in the sights and sounds that remind me I am far away from home. Far away from the world I know in Canada.
Moving through the stirrings of everyday life here by myself, being the one obvious foreigner out on the streets, allows me to clear my head and stimulate my body. Allows me to take in what awaits for me in the day that follows while here with Right to Play. Allows me to connect with myself and then give all of myself to the encounters each day has to offer.
Today the first stop on the agenda was the Right to Play country office in Kigali. The local office staff shared with us their version of RTP in action day in and day out. In the words of Right to Play Country Manager, Boris, ‘Everyday, through the rain and through the sun, they are giving their energy to the children, our Right to Play staff this is what they do.’
And then his message to us, the international group of visitors made up of the International Board of Directors, the Dutch Board of Directors, select RTP International Office staff and a crew of phenomenal Athlete Ambassadors, Boris said from the Rwanda RTP crew to us, ‘You really appreciate Rwanda and have us in your heart. You love us very much and always think of us. You have touched on your heart to come and visit us. As staff we say to you, we are very happy to implement RTP programs. We will continue WE assure you we’ll do our best to show you that your efforts you give for the children will continue forever. We have many things to tell you but our smiles and faces have spoken.’
With that we were off to the Rubavu district. A three hour drive through the glorious Rwandan countryside. Through tangible proof of this ‘land of a thousand hills’ we drove and finally reached the massive Lake Kivu.
First stop was a school where Right to Play created a safe and accessible play space for not just the kids at the school, but the entire community. A concrete slab. Two nets and a collapsible volleyball net in the middle. Latrines funded by RTP so that girls could more easily go to school because it provided a place for them to respectably relieve themselves. A simple creation from the simplest of things allowing them to wash their hands.
And then another play space in the form of another concrete slab. More games. Some trophies proudly presented from the local team that won the provincial basketball tournament because they now had a place to play basketball for the last few years. The same slab I played basket and volleyball with many of the same kids two years prior the last time I was there with Right to Play in 2010.
All along there were the kids. The songs. The games. The breaking down of barriers the moment we took part in the songs and the games. The instant we joined the play and held the hands. The jumping up and down. The clapping. The smiling and the laughing.
A day of sharing. Of listening and then sharing some more. The stories of youth transformed through these seemingly simple games that Right to Play calls curriculum. The Live Safe Play Safe, the Red Ball Child Play, the life skills, gender equality and child protection that is not only taught but more importantly is grasped by the young minds and hearts taking in the lessons.
It’s difficult to express the magic without seeing and hearing it with your own eyes and ears. Which is why we are up so late, many hours after all the activity is done. We sit around the dinner table, all the foreigners, discussing how we can give more to the people here in Rwanda and all the myriad countries Right to Play is impacting. How we can provide the funding and resources to allow for more to learn, grow and flourish. In many cases, how many can survive.
Another day is done and I can’t wait to wake up and start another.
So….if you are interested in coming to Rwanda with Right to Play…..vote for me here at Level the Field and you can join me and see for yourself!