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Well. It has been quite a long time and I (Moxie) am taking back my position as a blogger. Chad does not do a good job of keeping up so I will try to re-gain some steam. How do I possibly catch up to all that has happened since last July?…impossible.

However, I feel there could be some great things to blog about as we go forward. In my role as chief operating lab (COL), I will attempt to bring you some great insight and news as to what is going on in our (mine and Bristol’s) lives. It was half-way through the trip to Rwanda that Chad dropped the ball. Now, it is up to me to provide you with good info as graduation at the Clinton School looms. Stay tuned.

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Flat and Basketball

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This is at my basketball camp where I started with 6 kids last week and ended up with about 50 today. In the picture are Annabelle, Jemima, Jollela, and Montana. They are some of my youngest campers at 7 years old but I also have a couple 5 year old boys. It has been a great camp so far and I will be doing it again next week. I am also working on a project that could be crazy good…will be talking to a General and the Ministry of Sports tonight at the stadium. The national team is playing a practice game with Uganda as a warm-up for the Afro-Basket championships in Libia…5-15 Aug.

Oh…evidently, this is the first time a summer camp for kids has ever been done…awesome!

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Francois

Ever since meeting our guard, I wanted to know more about him. Most of the guards (domestics) live on the property in a small room attached to the house. Francois is no different. About two weeks ago, I was out back and saw his little room. It is about 8ft. x 6ft. and includes a piece of cardboard for a mattress and another piece of cardboard for a blanket. He has very few clothes and two pairs of shoes, but he does have a cellphone…which, everyone seems to have.

Our landlord is a young Rwandese man (Jamie) in his mid-20’s and speaks very good English. He came by last week because we had a couple things that needed fixin’. As we waited for the repair man to show up, I asked Jamie if he knew much about Francois…he did not. He found him through a cousin’s friend and just knew that he had a good work reputation. Therefore, I asked him if he would mind translating some questions for us to Francois. So…he asked Francois to come in the house. When he came in, he looked petrified and really didn’t know what he was coming in for. Jamie preceded to ask him questions like where he was from, how old he was, how many siblings he had, etc.

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Francois is 26 years old and is from a village that is about an 1 1/2 walk (that was how he knew to describe it) from Butare, which is about a 2 hour drive from Kigali. Some of his brothers and sisters were killed in the Genocide but both of his parents are still living in that same village. His father is a sustinance farmer and Francois worked on the farm full-time, especially after the Genocide that claimed the lives of some brothers and sisters. Therefore, he never had the chance to go to school and is completely illiterate. My roomate Susan, then asked if he would be willing to learn English…and without hesitation…he was. Ever since last week, we have been giving Francois English lessons and it has been a treat. Today, I taught him “Jump, Walk, and Run.” Susan continued work on the alphabet and simple words to reinforce letters…she has put in quite a lot of time with him, even if it means sitting on his wooden bench outside. He has warmed up to us and now feels comfortable coming in the house.

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I also taught him how to use my camera. He needed a couple practice shots but not bad for the first time ever.

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A.P.R. Victorious!

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It was very exciting to be an assistant/statictitian for A.P.R. this weekend in the Genocide Memorial Tournament. Many nice dunks and allyoops for entertainment and even a little coaching up on defense…reminded me of my days in summer camps. So many great experiences and a good time spent with Coach Cliff and the boys/men. As he was giving the pre-game speech, about 10 military guys passed us to go to their seats while carrying their AK-47’s like toy guns. The man holding the trophy is the president of the team and is a Colonel in the Rwandan Military…Coach Cliff is next to him in the vintage African garb.

On my way to see the national team practice…just had two NBDL players arrive on Friday to participate (a little sketchy)…should be fun to watch and I’ll be stealing some plays / drills while I’m at it.

The following post is taken from my journal that I wrote today at Amahoro stadium…enjoy!

So here I am in this gym where A.P.R (the military sponsored team) will play next. It is 12:26 and the game was supposed to start at 12:00. However, there is another game going on…and it is not basketball. I have never seen this game before?? It has wide goals and is played with something like a medicine ball that also has bearings in it that jingle when they throw it.

After being here for about 10 minutes…I have realized something important about this game…many people (all guys) are coming in with walking sticks or being led by someone. Each and every player is actually blind! This game has just become fascinating and you can’t help but feel good watching it…even mesmerized by the nature of the game.

Some rules/points of the game:

It is very quite in the gym so the players may hear the ball
Not a word is muttered by the players…they communicate by tapping the ball or ground
If there is a penalty, one player must come out for one serve
Coaches meet for coin flip before game to decide who has ball first
There is tape on the ground in certain places to provide for court awareness
Most players are barefoot and they where hip, knee, and elbow pads

Enough…here is another one…I added this second one for a different perspective and because it is so cool…

Sports and Public Service? I think so.

The basketball tournament held here in Kigali is actually called the “Tourni Memorial Gisembe”, which is named after one of the Rwandan basketball greats (Emmanuel ‘Gisembe’ Ntawungera) that was murdered in the Genocide of 1994. Although the game was supposed to begin at 1 p.m., it ended up getting started around 3:30, which is par for the course around here. I took a couple pic’s and a video of the moment of silence…pretty cool actually being there. Again, the only Muzungu (white person). Will have another detailed posting later about the experience…pretty interesting.

Draft Day.

In the spirit of blogging on NBA Draft day, let me talk a little basketball.

So, I played basketball a couple weeks back and haven’t played since. I miss my Tuesday / Thursday games at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. However, I’m presently working on something that gives me a bball fix…mentally, not physically.

All over Rwanda, I see a ton of soccer fields and many kids engaged in the sport. I see very few bball courts, and the ones I do see are in terrible shape…no nets, bent rims, pretty much unplayable. This picture is from one of the larger high schools here in Kigali…this is their game court. No high school has an indoor gym. Actually, there is no indoor gym with hardwood floors in the entire country.

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So of course, kids really don’t play much basketball…if they have even been exposed to it at all.

I am convinced that basketball has a lot of potential in Rwanda but it is pretty much non-existent due to lack of or lackluster facilities/courts. They either need to be refurbished, or new ones need to be built in areas where there are none (which is the majority of the country). Now, I know that basketball has made a tremendous difference in my life and has really been the number one vehicle for some of the best memories and friendships I still have today. I would like to see that for other people also.

As the #1 pick, all I need from Blake Griffen is a bit of his petty cash to start a non-profit that refurbishes basketball courts and/or builds new ones. That’s it! The field of dreams deal…”if you build it, they will come.” Talk about service…that would be a great service to the youth of Rwanda…some nice bball courts.

Hmmmmm…I really need to sleep on this one. All we really have to do is start with One Court!

Stay Tuned!