Thursday August 4th, 2016
"Inspiration, Rugby, and Butterflies"
This is Dan, Executive Director of Hope Shines. I can honestly tell you I was excited to write this blog today. Not only to let everyone know what is going on here in Rwanda, but because today was somewhat emotional for me and more eye opening.
I learned to improve as a manager and certainly learned that as much progress has come to Rwanda, some things don't always work out the way you want or plan. Patience and relying on new ways to communicate were top of my list this morning. Everyone has a role here....the guard, the facility manager, the cooks, the country manager, the volunteers, the translators/facilitators...we all work together to accomplish the mission. We are the backbone of this operation on the ground. I am getting better I think at working with new people and helping us become more efficient. I am learning to rely on my team more than ever and trust those I put in charge. Today's controlled chaos is a shining example of this.
The day started with volunteer and facilitator share about our path to University and in our careers. We all told our story, which were all different and so important to the kids. It gives them a chance to see what success can look like when we all go through different challenges in our very different upbringings and lives. I saw the interest from them and even saw a couple almost thinking intensely about their future when challenged by us to take charge of their life and don't let their poor backgrounds dictate what they are capable of. I saw that and I was moved by that.
Our special guest, Vincent, a team member from the Silverbacks Rwanda National Rugby team, told his story too, which included his tough journey to get to University and on to the team to represent his country. He taught the game of rugby and we even played later, but what was most interesting was that he took the day off, unpaid, to join us and the kids just to leave his mark on the development of these vulnerable youth. He loved his time with us and we loved him. He told me he'll be back tomorrow just to hang out! Wow, we must be doing something right!
Oh the carnage! The kids were true rugby fans by the end of the day and were taken through drills by Vincent, which wasn't necessarily about the game itself, rather it was about learning to listen, communicate, work as a team, take direction. The game is only the platform. Smiles around and certainly some aggressive pile ups were had!
We ate another great lunch at 12:30, which included carrots, potatoes, pasta, and fish! What a well balanced meal cooked by women that are mamas of some of the children we serve. We love to put money back into the families. Your donations go towards this and it makes a huge difference.
We finished the day off with a science lesson on the steps to becoming a butterfly. Volunteers read butterfly books and then the children learned the steps and made a fun craft. they were so proud to take it home to their homes.
I'll be posting about some of the kids I've grown to know better since my time here because I want to connect the donors and supporters to them specifically. I've always said, I don't want to be the one getting credit for leading this organization but rather I want to be part of what brings up these kids that have no chance and empower them to achieve their highest potential. After all, to me that is what it's all about...giving your best and trying to achieve the most!
A brother and sister I now know are just incredible. They are fraternal twins in a family of 5. Their names are Germaine and Germie. They live in a run down mud house that is 12'x12' with 3 other members of the "family". Their mama washed clothes for money and that's all she can do with her primary school education. She makes $20 USD a month and she cares for 3 other kids that aren't even hers. What a sacrifice! These two are enrolled with us and we pay for health insurance and school fees so they can be educated and healthy. They have been top performers at camp all week and are eager to learn. The challenges these kids face is unbelievable. Their house is literally almost falling down the hill and the mama is re-building it herself! Wow.
So the ending to this blog is about recharging the batteries. My batteries and hopefully those who are reading about our little nonprofit. This is real life here and I personally need your help to allow us to make an impact in these lives. I'm seeing the work is good. We have a great strategy. We are foundationally strong with programs we can measure and evaluate. Help me and help us please. Make a connection, invite us to a networking event, donate to our campaigns and on the website, come to our events. You might find yourself here with us one day, with a beating heart that beats for these children!
ijoro ryiza (Good night)