July 16, 2015. Volunteer Cristian D’Onofrio blogs about his first experience in Africa during his two weeks in Rwanda volunteering with CAC as we partner with Football For Hope, Peace, and Unity.
During my second week in Nyanza, I started to understand a little more about what life in Rwanda is like. I had already completed my first week in Rwamagana, but as this is my first time in Africa, it took me awhile to settle into the culture. I knew that Rwanda experienced genocide in the early 90’s, but I was eager to see how the people of Rwanda responded to such a divisive and brutal event. Twenty-one years on, there is still rebuilding and restoration to be done, but the mindset is a fairly progressive one.
One game that showed evidence of this mindset was a game called Perpetua for Gender Equity. This is a game in which two teams try to score on each other but are separated into groups based on jobs that women can do. Before the game started, the whole group mentioned both culture and mindset as the primary reasons that women and men do not have equal job opportunity. It did not come as a huge surprise to me when the groups selected very traditional responsibilities. This showed that gender roles were deeply rooted into their own culture. Strangely during the ending discussion there was little resistance to the idea the jobs were interchangeable between the sexes, and the fact that Rwanda has one of the highest percentage of female politicians in the world was brought up. Both the men and the women of the group were proud of this, but they all agreed that there was still work to be done.
One evening we were invited to attend a training session for one of our member partners, a group called Kids Play International (KPI) in the nearby village of Gatagara. It was a 25-minute ride by motorbike, and the journey through the rural countryside of Rwanda was a special experience concluding with a welcome song from the kids of the organization. The coaches got straight into training, eager to show off what they had learned during the weeklong coaching education program. It was great to see that even before the end of the week the coaches were implementing and adapting some of our games to fit their own needs and priorities.
This week during training we had a relatively high percentage of returners as well as women coaches and teachers that really fueled the group’s ambition to both understand and implement our messages. This mentality makes me both confident and excited for all the coaches going forward.