By Cheryl Jean-Paul.  I am now two thirds done my Africa trip with Athletes in Action and really enjoying
the time in Rwanda. It's been emotional yet rewarding at the same time
seeing how the people of Rwanda are trying to rebuild their nation. In
some ways, they are so much farther ahead than us Canadians.  They've
banned plastic bags, nobody smokes here except foreigners, they don't
litter, the streets are immaculately clean, they have police all over
the place and have very little crime.  They are really trying to show
the world that they are one united nation. For those of you who don't
know about Rwanda, there was a terrible genocide here in 1994 which
pitted one tribe against another with neighbors and family friends
killing each other because of mindless reasons. We took a tour of the
Genocide Museum and were appalled at the videos and pictures of the
destruction and death.

For all of you young kids reading this, be very grateful for the lives that your parents have provided for you and don't take it for granted!

We toured an orphanage and saw some beautiful babies that have been left behind by HIV positive parents.  We met some survivors not much older than I am who are responsible for caring for all 9 of their siblings and cousins and their spouse's siblings.  There are homes that have 19 people living in them because they take care of their entire family.

Imagine walking for kilometres to go to school; having to carry all the water your family uses in one day from a tap that's a kilometre from your house; only owning 2 shirts and one pair of pants and thinking that a piece of gum is a huge treat.  We have a lot to be thankful for!

Anyways, enough preaching - just wanted to let you all know that my experience in Zambia and Rwanda has been amazing and has really expanded my coaching eyes to how fortunate we are to have basketballs, nice shoes & jerseys and indoor basketball courts that actually have rims and mesh. I ran 2 coaching sessions here for some of their coaches and athletes and was really encouraged by their desire to pursue excellence. I even met 2 Rwandan Olympic athletes = a runner who still lives in poverty and a swimmer who trains in a hotel pool. That's like a provincial team practicing on my parents driveway.

If you ever have a chance to travel here - take it!  It's pretty cool.  Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers and I'll see you in a week when I return to Winnipeg.


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