Thoughts from Rwanda 2016

Beautiful family photo taken from Becky's friend Jen

Beautiful family photo taken from Becky's friend Jen

Well hello there! I am writing to you from my home in Merrimack, New Hampshire having just returned from Rwanda recently! For anyone who has ever read these before, this is the part where I go on about how happy I am for the time I had, but how much I miss the kids as well. It is no different this year. My time was a little shorter this year because of some work requirements I couldn't get out of so that wasn't ideal but I still had a solid month and a half with the kids. If this is all you read, rest assured that they are doing splendid and are in school. If you want more, here it comes. I warn you that I ramble with my experiences below but I bring it home at the end with some amazing news for the rest of the year!

FIRST WEEKS

I arrived at an interesting time. The family had begun to pack there things to move to a different house. I wish I could tell you that we were moving to our own land and our own home but that is still a distant dream we are working on. We had to move because our current home was falling apart and becoming dangerous to live in. Our landlord wasn't doing her part either and the neighbors were being affected which then involved the local authorities who were less than pleased. Evode searched Kigali and found a home for the same amount of rent that would suit us. So the packing began. I arrived when there was still a couple days to help with that.

Anyone who has ever moved, knows there are highs and lows to packing. We had those moments where we found things we hadn't seen in a long time and warmed our hearts. We also had moments where our efforts felt fruitless and the job was endless. However, something I reminded myself, and to the boys was to remember how lucky we were to be in a position where we have nice things now worth organizing and taking care of.

Teaching the boys to play Polish Horseshoes. Die Donne and Ishimwe got pretty good.

Teaching the boys to play Polish Horseshoes. Die Donne and Ishimwe got pretty good.

When it was time to move, I got a wonderful experience that I will never forget. The big truck came and it was going to take a few trips. It was night time and the truck was open so someone needed to sit on top of all the things outside to keep them safe from thieves. One person alone could do this but 2 of our boys and myself did the job together. It was fantastic driving through Kigali on top of a huge truck with two of our boys. It was a whole other perspective.

And then it started to rain...a lot. We made a handful of trips over the next 2 days and every time we did, it would rain during it. We rolled with it. I will say that, a day before we moved, Evode and I witnessed a garbage truck topple over on the dirt roads. Two workers were drowning in the trash as people all over dug them out. They lived, but I couldn't help think of that a little while on top of the truck on the muddy hills. It worked out!

That first night, we got in a lot of stuff, just enough to go to sleep. Most of us were in the new home. A handful stayed at the old home with the stuff we hadn't brought yet. That night, those boys who stayed behind didn't get much sleep. The rain did what we feared and began to flood the whole house. The boys spent much of the night fighting off the water and keeping the things dry. It was a nice reminder of why we needed to leave. The worst fear was collapse of the structure which didn't happen luckily.

BOYS ON HOLIDAY - NEW NEIGHBORHOOD

The rest of the moving process was what you would expect. The house is a little smaller but very well built. That means that most of the spaces are shared like they used to be. Now the living room is one big room that incorporates the boys' study space and library. It's a very homely room. I took part in making the library again and tuning up the computers for the boys.

Ishimwe and Yves playing games with Keza

Ishimwe and Yves playing games with Keza

The timing for the move worked out well because we had all of the boys home on holiday from school. That was really nice for me too. Depending on the year, sometimes they are at school during January and sometimes they are not. Because of that, some years are better than others to be with certain boys. This year I got to see everyone for a few weeks at the least.

Our new house is in a fantastic location. It is near but not very close to the area of Nyamirambo where many street kids, crime, prostitution etc. is. That is good because that is where our work is when bringing in new kids, but its detached from the house now so we live in more of a neighborhood.  The neighborhood brings pros and cons for sure. The pros are more though. We now live close to a place to play soccer and go to church. Those 2 activities before required hour long walks each way before to do. Now both are no big deal. Our land with our building site is a walk away now too so that will become invaluable when we build again.

Just a few goofballs

Just a few goofballs

For me personally, it was fun to be in such a congested neighborhood because I like getting to know the neighbors and all of the many kids around the block. I didn't realize I would have so many friends already thanks to building last year. Because the building site is so close, many people either worked with me, knew someone working with me, or saw me working when they walked by. That helped a lot. Though I will always look like a foreigner to them, it helps when they know that you do your best to be with them. 

It was a great experience for the boys and me to make new friends on the soccer field. There was a power struggle at first. The locals expected our boys to follow their ways, though we were the ones providing a ball to use to play. Each week, there was improvement. It was really nice to see our boys begin to make special friends and stuff. 

A big negative was water though. We have two tanks to to use to collect water when it is available but it rarely is. Luckily the watering point we use to fetch the water is near. It is also free though, which means there are many people at this watering point. Sadly, many fights break out. I fetch water with the boys every year and I have waited hours before to do so. This year was the worst one ever. Being a foreigner, I blow peoples' minds at the fact that I am lugging two 5  gallon jerry cans of water. I don't say that to toot my own horn. Because of this astonishment, all 50-60 people waiting for a trickle of water to fill theirs insist that I get mine filled. I hold off for a while but eventually it becomes rude to do so. You get a real perspective on things when you wait thirty minutes to get your water, begin to leave, and see the same older man or tiny child waiting for what will likely take all day to fill enough water, to drink, cook one meal, and maybe wash a little. It is something I will never forget.

With that being said, before I move on. It was a pleasure to see the character of our boys come out during these massive lines for water. As i said, people fought a lot. Our boys never fought. In fact, I have a really nice memory of a time when two small kids were chasing each other and fighting while everyone waited. It was funny for a minute or two but they didn't stop. They began to get meaner and more violent. Sadly, people still found it funny. Claude did not. He tried his best to take each by the hand and help them make nice. That failed, and he resorted to separating them until finally, he sent one of the kids away. It was a nice moment of character.

SCHOOL - ACTIVITIES

Sadly, there was no building for me this year. Every penny we earned from Run the 1 was needed to send all of our kids off to school. I was fortunate to help go and get some of the supplies this year and pay some of the school fees at the various banks and such. I got a lot of perspective about it and realized the undertaking it is for just one kid, let alone 30. Evode, being as grateful as he was, would have me dole out the books, pens, and things to the boys as they checked off their different needs. The boys are always grateful, but this year, more so than ever.

While they were home, we spent a lot of time practicing computers, reading, playing, and enjoying quality time together. One thing some of them liked to do was listen to my interviews on the phone. I had to do some phone interviews, so I would invite any boy who promised to be quiet to hang out and listen  if they wanted. There is something very odd but awesome about interviewing through to Alaska while I am in Rwanda surrounded by some of the boys intently listening to my English and how I was holding myself together as I answered difficult questions. Typically, I would go to eat dinner after and I would be greeted with, "So, Sully how did the interview go?" No matter what becomes of any of that, I will always cherish that support, and the display of longing to take in knowledge.

RWANDA SPIKE

Before all of the boys left for school, I did my best to cook them Shephard's Pie one night which was decent given what we had to work with. I think they liked it. I know they appreciated the effort. As I got up, one of our small boys stood up and asked me to wait because he wanted to tell me something. Any of the guys from the Arroyo Grande Hotshots will understand this next part well. I was waiting for Gabrielle to tell me what he wanted to say, and I heard movement from all of the boys but didn't think much of it. I didn't think much until I noticed one boy, named Samuel, had that grin, that mischievous grin that i know all too well from my time on the crew. It was too late by then. I was being lifted up in the air, over and over again helpless as a thank you for the meal and i assume for all of our efforts for their schooling. I was just thankful that they were kind enough to not find a ceiling of some sort to bash me into like a certain group of people I know in Arroyo Grande, California.

THEN WE WERE ELEVEN

After all of the boarding school boys, we had only 11 boys living with us. That is the smallest amount we have ever had and it was a little quiet honestly. I spent those last two weeks, helping them out when needed and getting all of my information, gifts organized for our sponsors. Because we were few, it gave us the opportunity to take them into the very developed city center. They had opened a legit movie theater and we wanted our boys to experience that.The older boys were allowed to see The Revenant with me, and the smaller boys got to see Hotel Transylvania 2. Both sides were extremely happy with the outcome. We walked around town together after that and took in the sites and big buildings. One tower, had open escalators going up for four floors. There were no stores on the upper floors but curious Rwandans traveled up and down them all day. The boys and I could not resist either. I think the majority of them all tripped at some point at the the top of the escalators when the elevated floor reaches the moving platform. It was hilarious and sweet. Rwanda was also the host of the CHAN football tournament this year so there was professional soccer being played everyday somewhere in the country. The boys and I had a lot of fun following that. Rwanda did well but it was the Congo who took home the gold.

Fiston, Jack, and I would play all night on the porch. in this picture we are trying to figure out the name of our band. It started out as "The Young Guys," turned into "The Guys,' and then "Guys."  This may be one of my favorite photos ever.

Fiston, Jack, and I would play all night on the porch. in this picture we are trying to figure out the name of our band. It started out as "The Young Guys," turned into "The Guys,' and then "Guys."  This may be one of my favorite photos ever.

THE BEST FOR LAST

The day I left, for a small time, it was myself, little Keza, and David at home and I wanted to see the land one more time before I left. I hadn't gone much to it because it made me sad not to build. The sun was setting and it was gorgeous. I was greeted by different workers I had befriended the year before. I laughed while I watched David and Keza chase the rabbits we have there as a side project. I admired the kitchen which was worked on by other volunteers while I was away. I saw some of our bed frames we weren't using, being stored safely. I thought about our cassava farming fields in the village, coming along to help feed our boys. I was happy to see the land being used as much as possible for now. I ran my hand along the wall and dreamed about the future. I hoped we could make it all a reality. I felt peace for that future. As we walked home, I wasn't sure how we would raise all of the money, but I wasn't any less determined.

Gentil started his last year of secondary school this year. He is our first boy to go to Senior 6! This year and the next are huge years for him.

Gentil started his last year of secondary school this year. He is our first boy to go to Senior 6! This year and the next are huge years for him.

I left after that. The boys and I were stronger than ever. Evode and I had put our heads and hearts together more cohesively than ever and made big plans for this year and the future. I left Rwanda as motivated as ever. I think the trip was a great reality check for me. I left knowing that I was doing a good thing there, but I also left knowing that my job wasn't done and I could do better. I think that example also resonated with our committed volunteers outside of the U.S. that have been keeping us afloat since the beginning but also slowed their efforts in 2015.

A few days after I landed in the states, my theory above was confirmed. A wonderful woman in the U.K. had sent a late donation of 2,000 UK Pounds in early February in honor of the efforts from the Rafiki Run. A week after that, she asked for our building plan and budget. And upon my arrival in the states, I was told the amazing news that this woman and her family had donated 10,000 UK Pounds to begin building the foundation and first floor of the home. If that wasn't great enough, she pledged another 20,000 to come! Thank who you want to thank. Thank Evode for reaching out to these kids in 2001. Thank Becky for seeing the need and getting a home for all of them. Thank yourself for helping to get our land, break ground on it, and show people like our newest donor that we are serious about this dream. And thank everyone for continuing to run and showing people our continued faith in all of this. And I do mean EVERYONE thanks to the Rafiki Run bringing us altogether wherever we are.

So though I may be jealous that I am not personally building this year, I am so happy the building is happening and our boys are living full lives with bright futures. We are fortunate people. I hope the same returns to you reading this in kind.Thank you so much.

Stay tuned for those building updates as I get them.

KOMERA (Be Strong)

Sully

The land should look a lot different next year.

The land should look a lot different next year.

P.s. Our U.S. Non-Profit Ubaka U Rwanda is always open for donations if anyone is ever feeling more generous than they already are. Please message me if you are interested in sponsoring one of our amazing boys.

P.s.s. My phone broke while I was in Rwanda so I don't have any of the photos I took sadly. Luckily Jennifer took some great ones of us while she was visiting. Enjoy the outtakes below.

First attempt at a cliche jumping picture.

First attempt at a cliche jumping picture.

Good enough. Gabrielle never had a chance thanks to Muneza using him as a stand. Yves just dropped the ball.

Good enough. Gabrielle never had a chance thanks to Muneza using him as a stand. Yves just dropped the ball.

Dancing attempt, some got it, and some didn't.

Dancing attempt, some got it, and some didn't.


The Run | 2015

Hello Everyone! Below is a big, long summary of Run the 1 2015. I began writing it during the chaos of the holidays and now I am finishing it before I leave for Rwanda. I will return to Rwandaconfidently, knowing that our kids’ education is safe and secure. I will return knowing that there will be money left over that will either be used to build while I am there or invested in the future building plans. We raised $12,000 and I can’t thank everyone enough. Please enjoy.

Just in time for the holidays, just when I thought there wasn’t much else I could be thankful for, I also have the privilege of writing this summary out for Run the 1 in 2015. This is the fifth year that I have had the fortune of doing this and it did not disappoint yet again. Thanks to everyone’s efforts and generosity, all of ours kids’ education is safe for another year. That is no small feat given how many of our kids are going to top schools in Rwanda now because they held up their end of the deal and succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations in the classroom. So I am so humbled to say that we raised $12,000! For the many awesome people who donated and helped out, Please allow me to explain how we went about earning your donations.

PRE-PARTY – Palo Alto – December 2nd – Wednesday

Laura and her amazing network of friends were once again so nice to host me at their home again for a party for Run the 1 and Michelle, whom I met in Rwanda, and is from Montara, CA. She helps out the same kids and was awesome to come to the party as well and share her experiences with the guests. Many of the guests’ kids came that night and joined us. At one point, a girl came up with a ukulele and was joined by the younger ones. They sang us an Elvis song and it was beautiful. Everyone had a great time and was extremely helpful in supporting our efforts. Thank you to Laura again.

THE NIGHT BEFORE – December 3rd – Thursday

I say it every year. The folks who come up the night before always help out more than people know. It should be noted that these guys usually are running with the least amount of support the next days and/or supporting without much company. It should also be noted that most often it seems this “night before” historically doesn’t give us good weather and we are rarely spending it in typical accommodations. The biggest thing those guys do for me though is keep my spirit at its highest. I get the nerves pretty good before Run the 1 begins and nothing calms them like having a handful of dedicated friends commit all of their time with me for the cause. This year, about ten plus of us met up at New Brighton State Beach campground with drizzling rain in the early evening. We had just enough time to check out the gorgeous views of the rising swell before the sun went down. We went and found a nice warm pub in Soquel to hunker down for the night. We all ordered Chinese food and carbed up for the next day. We also stuck around to catch the amazing Hail Mary end to the Packers/Lions game. Anyone catch that?!

Day 1 – December 4th – Friday – New Brighton State Beach to Big Sur Fire Station

  • Dustin Grise – 26*
  • Jess – 26
  • Rudy – 50*
  • Sully- 45
  • Chris – 26
  • Big Web – 26
  • Hildie – Biked 60, ran 20
  • Welker – 10
  • Fetrow – 26
  • Wasky – Biked 160
  • Schmitty – Biked 160
  • Michelle – Biked 25, Ran 1
  • Seth – 26

The majority of us woke up at four in the morning. Luckily the rain wasn’t too bad through the night. Rudy started things of for the runners. Rudy was attempting his first fifty miler. Dustin and Jess joined him as well and were unplanned regarding their mileage. Schmitty and Wasky started off on their bikes. Their plan was to go all the way to Cayucos Pier by the end of that day. That is a total of 165 Miles! Admiringly so, they finished that day, took a few nice pictures and then came back to us in Big Sur to help out supporting for the second day! Back to the runners, Rudy did a great job for his first half. Dustin had never run a full marathon before, nor did he plan on it but as what usually happens, he started committing himself and he did a full one. Jess was with him all the way too and we were really happy for the both of them. Rudy was on his own until he got to Marina where I decided to jump in with him at mile 30. At that point, after a few miles, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to stop until I got to Big Sur that night. We took our time but we couldn’t ask for a better day so we tried to keep our spirits up. The massive hill leading down to Carmel was painful but very inviting because it meant Rudy was almost finished and we had more visitors show up. Some of those visitors included Holmes’s Uncle and Aunt who have always took their time to provide us with grilled cheese sandwiches, potatoes, and Ibuprofen. We couldn’t be happier for Rudy finishing his fifty miles. I continued with a new batch of guys to finish the marathon from Carmel to Big Sur. We made great time and the views were what you would expect with massive waves breaking everywhere all day below. Everyone met us at Fernwood so the guys could warm up with much deserved drinks. Michelle and I ran the extra mile to the station because I wouldn’t have felt right if that mile didn’t get covered. As the night progressed, more friends showed up to hang out and get ready to do their part the next day. I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted because some of us had to get up at midnight, but I heard some folks come back around ten who sounded like they had a great time as they should’ve. I couldn’t have asked for a smoother,  more admirable, inspiring first day.

P.S. Hildie had a nice time the night before telling everyone that he was going to take it easy this year. His plan was to wake up later than everyone, take his bicycle and cruise all day on his way to Big Sur (which is still almost 80 miles but from years past, he felt that would be simple enough). His plan was working and he caught up to us a few miles past Carmel. He was all smiles until ten minutes later he was standing at a turnout. It turns out he had popped one tire earlier that day, replaced it, and then broke his second one just then. This time he wasn’t able to fix it. So the supporters took his bike and he ran the rest of the way with us but not before almost dying. It was admirable for sure, but I also couldn’t help but laugh at him after bragging the night before.

Day 2 – December 5th – Saturday – Big Sur Fire Station to Cayucos Pier

Technically this day started on the first day at 11:00 PM. Claire wanted enough time to finish her 80 mile run so she chose that time. I was lucky enough to support her so I woke up to. I basically drove five miles ahead of her and tried to sleep. She would arrive, open the back door, wake me up, eat something, drink, and continue. I would then repeat this until reinforcements came in the afternoon on Saturday. Behind me, Holmes had started at midnight with Schmitty doing support pretty much the same way. It was a gorgeous night and though I was tired, I can’t say much compared to Claire and Holmes and their efforts. They ran through the night and into the morning as best as any. Behind us, the other groups woke up around six in the morning and decided to do the majority of their runs behind us, starting from the station. I got all of the figures of what people ran below. I wish I could have seen all of their efforts and been there for them. They were in good hands and took care of each other. As the afternoon progressed, they finished up, and came up to help out the rest of the way. Other friends came up from San Luis Obispo to join in with other runners leading the packs. It wasn’t long before we had a group of over fifty people following runners all around and parking around stops and hanging out. There isn’t much better… besides finishing. Claire finished her eighty miles looking shot but thankfully not half dead like last year. Holmes decided to finish the last five miles to the pier. He had some company including myself. As we neared the pier you could see everyone waiting for us and it was really special. Even more special was the chant Holmes’s small nephews were singing for him for his big finish. When we got close, one nephew broke off and met us, and was so happy to run with Holmes. That was the least amount of running pain I’d felt throughout the two days. We did the hugging stuff and it was great. Then, while the sun was nearing sunset, we all got on the beach and took a great picture. Some guys brought out a cooler and we all enjoyed a beverage and I couldn’t think of a better place to be (Besides Rwanda). It was definitely our best finish of all the Run the 1’s.

It should be noted that I missed a lot of other peoples’ actions that day so I got the numbers down the best I could and want to thank them for pushing themselves so hard. I put an asterisk next to anyone who beat a personal record.

  • Laura – 17*
  • Emelie – 17*
  • Ali – 13
  • Kevin – 13*
  • Mark – 13*
  • Paige – 13
  • St. Vinny – 13*
  • Tiffany – 10
  • Gil – 31*
  • Sunish – 20
  • Nak – 26*
  • Gam – 26
  • Mario – 26*
  • Barthel – Got sick, but had spirit
  • Magic – 15
  • Sky -26
  • Lil Web – 13
  • Cooper – 13
  • Claire – 80
  • Holmes – 85
  • Hickster – 13
  • Lou – 17*
  • Dano – 25
  • Tranq – 20
  • Hall – 26
  • Todd – 5
  • Sully – 5
  • Michelle –Biked 90, ran 2
  • Wiley – 28
  • Devon – 28
  • Randy – 20
  • Taylor – 15
  • Jerry - 15
  • Mr. Holmes – 10
  • Mrs. Holmes – 5
  • Holmes’s Nephew – 100 feet

AFTER PARTY – Kreuzberg – San Luis Obispo

Once again, James from Kreuzberg was awesome to open his whole shop to us for the party and to donate a portion of his profits that night to the cause. We didn’t have much time before the West African Dance Troupe hit the floor and demanded everyone’s audience. Prior to the show, I saw Brita and my sister practicing on Higuera Street which is a testament to them both. We were fortunate to have Samba Loca follow them again. The Damon Castillo Band took the stage after that and locked into a tight groove. Meanwhile, it was great to see so many people from the run and around town and to celebrate the efforts put forth. The Glorified Gardeners is a group started from the Arroyo Grande Hotshots’ superintendent Michael Hickey and myself. Chris and T.J. even us out, and we were fortunate to have Nicolai and Laura (And Beef too) join us. It really capped the whole night off. We were tired but I think we put on our best show yet, and everyone’s energy was contagious.

The Rafiki Runs

We had been promoting the Rafiki Runs as a way to allow others to participate and spread awareness of the cause even if they weren’t in the central coast with us. We had a few additions this year! I want to thank Hanna Stevens from Washington State, Kevin Chambers (and his dog) from Merrimack, NH, Jamie Sullivan from Londonderry, NH, and all of the kids at Ubaka U Rwanda! All of our kids ran relatively at the same time as we were running on the first day! They all ran a 10k and I was told that they got a really great perspective on our efforts and are more appreciative than ever. Everyone that participated in the Rafiki Runs…thank you for inspiring us.

Final Thoughts and Goals for 2016

As is the theme now with these summaries, I am not sure I can adequately write about all of the positives of our event. It really is all good for the kids and us too. Truth be told, I was sad that we had to raise money for school this year and not to build, but that is only because the kids have done so well and are entering such prestigious schools. When I think about that, I can’t be too sad because we are doing that well. The building will continue when we can but our kids will always be first. I hope there is a chance we can add a little something to our dream home while I am there, but I will be patient, and I am in this for the long run.

Though I typically go over the million ways I am thankful for the experiences and friendship between all of us and where we live, I think I have a better way to say it this year. It is possible I will work in a new area in 2016 during the fire season. Whether or not that happens isn’t the story. The story is that some of the guys at different times were so kind to ask me what will happen to Run the 1 for 2016? I didn’t know how to answer because I have never been the type to expect others to jump into whatever I am doing and I wasn’t sure what the consensus would be if I were somewhere else. They have always just jumped into Run the 1 which is a statement itself. Anyways, those friends, in their own ways, said that they hope I continue it because it is a great thing for the kids and it brings everyone together. And I was touched by that. No matter how much money we raise, or how many miles someone runs, what matters is we are doing something good, and were doing it together. It’s that simple. I expect a Run the 1 in 2016 and I can’t wait. I hope you’ll be there with us. Thank you to everyone.

Komera (Be Strong)

Sully

P.s. Enjoy the pictures and know that donations are accepted year round through the www.runthe1/donate website.

#RafikiRun

I wanted to write a blog regarding the Rafiki Run and highlight some people that have been doing it before we ever decided to give it a nifty name. Over the years, I have had the fortune of being in many places and making many life long friends. As Run the 1 continued, many people have wished they could be with us during our fundraiser but were not able because of distance. When Ali brought up the idea of encouraging those types of people to do their own Rafiki Runs in support of run the 1, I was intimidated. I am not a very strong social media kind of guy, and I'm not very good at trying to rally people to do things. The amazing group that now is with me for Run the 1 came together naturally and out of a love to help and enjoy a challenge together. However, I changed my mind and decided to back up Ali's idea and the Rafiki Runs because of two people specifically. Gam and Hanna.

Gam

in 2013, Gam was living near San Francisco, working on becoming a paramedic. He has worked all over our forest on different fire modules so he was really close with everyone. I hadn't seen him in a long time but I heard he was coming to the party for the fundraiser. That was all I knew. That year was the first time I ran 50 miles and I was dying and didn't really know what was going on that day outside of my personal misery. It was later that night when I saw Gam, that I learned he had ran his first marathon that day, without any support. He didn't know where we would be so, he got to San Luis Obispo and ran to Morro Bay and back as a way to be a part of the event with us. I couldn't believe it.

Hanna

I met Hanna in Rwanda. She was kind enough to come and visit the kids and spend quality time with them and take phenomenal pictures. Many of the pictures you see now, came from her. Hanna lives in Seattle and can never make it to Run the 1 unfortunately. That has never stopped her from running though. Every year she has a ran a half marathon or a full one on the same day when we are running. I always draw strength from that.

So when I think about Gam and Hanna and how touched I was when I learned they were running with us even if they were far away, I realize that the Rafiki Run is extremely special. It is a huge show of passion and comradery. It may raise another dollar too, but that isn't what I remember as much. I remember how humble someone is to do the run even if there is no one there to cheer them on and congratulate them. I remember how those stories need to be known especially for the kids' sake because we can all learn from that type of honest effort. It is a pure effort, one that isn't masked by anything other than pure passion.

And the icing on that cake for 2015 is that Evode and Becky who take care of the kids in Rwanda have rallied the gang to run a 10k in the day we are running. Because of the time difference, I doubt we will all be running at the same time, but I know I will feel them when we are running. It makes me feel so happy knowing that the kids, Hanna, and anyone else who joins us from anywhere on December 5th, will be doing it all together for all of us. Run the 1 just keeps bridging so many great things about life and I am so thankful.

P.S. Now that I have gotten all of the corny stuff out of me, I would like to give a shout out to some of the boys that will be running in Rwanda.

Joel

Joel might die on the 5th. Just kidding. But really, he always wants to go on runs but he always starts walking. Countless times I have stayed behind him, trying to help push him. One time, we got in a rush and I had to carry him a ways. He was much younger then though. He is becoming a teenager soon and I think he will be alright. He is a sassy kid though who likes to poke fun though. I wish I could be there to give him a hard time and a few jabs for fun.

Emmanuel

Emmanuel is the best running partner I've had in Rwanda. He will go out anytime with me, even if it is the middle of the day and it's really hot. Emmanuel is deaf so he doesn't try to talk my ear off either. We just have a nice peaceful time and I usually end up learning some sign language on the way. I could really use him over here when I run the long distances.

Mutaganira

Mutaganira is one of the fastest runners I have ever known. He schools me when we go out sometimes. He ran Rwanda's marathon one year and got 30th place!

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Jack

We can say a million things about Jack but when it comes to running, Jack is a work horse. He does the toughest runs with me. Jack is one of those people who sets himself up with tons of activities. He also is number 1 in one of the best schools in Rwanda right now. However, between all of his activities, he still must run either very early in the morning or in the evening.

Yves

Last but not least, I have to say a word about Yves. Except for Mutaganira, I expect Yves will win the 10k. I do not know if they will race or not or just enjoy it together but I do know that Yves will be first and he will race even if other do not. He is a small kid from malnutrition is his early days on the street but that doesn't stop him from running full speed with determination. I wish I could watch him fly out of the gates.

If you decide you'd like to do the Rafiki Run, tell us about it! Just tag #Rafikirun on facebook or instagram so we can follow along. As always, thanks for your support.