Every Volunteer Trip with Kids Play International (KPI) brings its own special experiences. The volunteers are not only immersed in the KPI program within its rural village location, they have the opportunity to experience the community and culture surrounding it.
On our 2013 Volunteer Trip (the first trip that I led for the Olympian founded & led organization), we had many eye-opening, priceless, and awe-inspiring moments. Each unique and influential in their own way, here is a taste of but a few…
(If you’re ready for your own, we have our upcoming 2014 Volunteer Trip to Rwanda)
1) As with all travel adventures, some of the best memories come from unscheduled random awesomeness. Let me introduce to you: Gym-tonics by Jean Paul! 60 minutes of swaying hips, intense rhythmic jumping, blasting music, happy clapping, whistling, and everything in between. Jazzercise has nothing on gym-tonics! We not only tested our coordination (could use some improvement apparently) but had a true “local way to sweat” experience; something we at AYT will sweat ourselves silly for. And yes, we were sore the next day.
2) Within the rural village of Gatagara, there lies a field with four flat cement structures with large crosses over each. Looming behind these memorials is a vast broken-down building that was clearly grand in its day yet has been left to its bare bones since the 1994 genocide. The family who once lived here sheltered and protected many people during the genocide, acting as one of the last strongholds of the area until their brutal murders. These cement structures now act as a memorial to the family that stood against violence. Standing under the tall pines alongside this home overlooking the memorials, cool and calming breezes swept through my hair and into the tall pines. The sound of peace, remembrance, and strength. This is a special place.
3) After every afternoon with the kids of KPI’s Let’s Play Fair program, we make our way back to the host house through a dirt path alongside rolling fields, clay brick homes and where local children anxiously wait for us to pass. The sun is setting, creating a picturesque lighting that bounces off the banana leaves, and rows of plants. As I strolled along the path with the warm sun on my face and a day of smiles, sports, yoga, and inspiration completed, three words came to me. I am happy.
*Featured photo by 2013 KPI Volunteer, Keith Falk