Well about two weeks ago I finished up working 2 weeks of overnight holiday camp each camp hosting about 500 children in secondary school (between the ages of 14- 25). The first camp was hosted in the District next to me Ruhango. And the second one was in Muhanga my District. The camps were 5 days, 4 nights and designed just like an American summer camp. They got 3 meals a day which is probably the only time those children were able to eat 3 meals a day. There were about 30 facilitators so the children were divided up by region into groups of about 30 and placed with there own teacher. The camps were very chaotic and the whole first day was spent of completing the children's paperwork and school fee’s. (One of the hidden agendas of these camps was to get all the beneficiary children in one place to deal with school fee issues all at once, its a genius plan.) CHF pays for thousands of children’s secondary school fee’s in this country. I don’t know how they choose the children I was not involved in that process it was already decided before i got into the country but they have chosen children who cannot afford secondary school. (Secondary school can cost up to $250 per year.)
The theme of the camp was Ndi Abahizi meaning I am a beneficiary who has the power to change my life. They had many activities to think about their future, what they want in their lives, what they want to be, and how to get there. One of my favorite activities was the skits they made. They were told to write skits about a 5 year reunion when they would see each other again in 5 years what they will be doing. It was really powerful and they kids got really into it. There was always at least one person playing the “loser” character who smoke and drank and got no where with their life. It was cool seeing that they knew a smoker/drinker person would not live out his/her dreams. They then acted the skits out in front of everyone and had a lot of fun with it. Both weeks that talent show ended up turning into a dance party that lasted until midnight so to say the least I was exhausted after 2 weeks of this.
The kids got to make flags and chants for their groups as well. Some got very creative having traditional dancers on their flags or colors which they made a key to say what each color represented. Many included Peace as a color. They all had a lot of fun presenting their flags and chants. A tree of hope was another activity done in each classroom. A student either drew a tree or the class used a tree outside. Each student cut out a leaf and wrote all of their hope and dreams on that leaf , then each student hung their leaves on the tree. Then the teacher made a paper watering can and asked each student to write something in the water can that would help them reach their dreams. Honesty, friends and family, and studying hard in school were some of the responses.
Though camp for sure had its problems and was terribly disorganized the kids got stuff out of it. I was even able to teach some American camp songs to the kids such as “We come from the mountains” and “Peel banana” which they loved, even the older kids seemed to enjoy singing them. I got to play volleyball and basketball with the kids. Many were surprised we had volleyball in America. They think the only sport in America is basketball which I think is pretty funny. In Ruhango I got to meet the women’s junior national volleyball team and in Muhanga I met the men’s national junior volleyball team. They even let me play a little with them but they are really good way better than I am but it was really fun.