Thirty-two degrees and sunny. Rwanda mornings are beautiful, with much less traffic than Nairobi – the Giants of Africa team arrives at the gym in just 10 minutes.
The organization and attention to detail showcased by this country is astonishing. Campers are already seated in neat lines at the end of the court. Vibrant yellow Rwanda Dreams Big t-shirts cover their tucked in jerseys, and socks are pulled high above their matching new nikes. The gym is spotless, and painted in an array of the country’s vibrant yellows and blues. Since Masai and some of the crew had visited and spoken to the campers the night before, they already know what to do when they hear coach Jama’s whistle. Jumping to action, the day is comprised of drills and skills stations, during which a small child came to Masai’s attention.
Walking by, Masai noticed the boy wearing a black Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross t-shirt and said hello, asking him what he thought of the camp. What ensued turned out to be a very special experience here in Rwanda. The boy named Kabeja, lives in Geneva and was on vacation in Kigali when he heard of Masai’s travels and that he was to arrive in town. He decided to stay an extra 10 days to wait to see the camp, and hopefully meet Masai.
Kabeja was so eloquent and articulate in his speech, Masai stated afterward that, “It was as if I was talking to an adult, like speaking to a 30 year old”. The boy is only 12. After his meeting and pictures taken with Masai, the boy and his family stayed for the entire day, soaking in everything the camp had to offer, and even playing basketball with some of the team.
The afternoon was focused on sectioning kids off into 3 stations. The first, taught several exercises to help build strength and muscle. The second, increased agility and stamina through sprints and long distance jogging, and the final allowed the campers to play some games.
The exercises here were especially unique as we had access to Amphora Stadium, one which was used as a safe haven for 12,000 refugees during the genocide in 1994. A place that had housed those who hoped to survive, is now a place of beauty and excitement.
The day ended with our speeches from the coaches and Masai telling the kids, “The first thing is leadership. Who is going to bring the group together? You have to do things together. Second is communication. You have to communicate with each other. You have to to understand what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Stay disciplined, not everything in life is going to be easy – you are going to be put in difficult positions. In this country you know”