On Wednesday 12 July, I packed my bags for my first camp assignments since I started this new role as a communications specialist for Young Life Africa South. The destination; Kigali, Rwanda. I was excited to visit Rwanda not only because it was my first time, but because I had just spent some time learning more about the country for this article I wrote. The conversations I had with the Young Life team in Kigali left me eager to finally get to experience the country in person, especially to experience how they do Camp in Rwanda.
Day one of the camp was the most memorable day for me, from the moment campers started arriving there was a nonstop flow of energy. It took about 3 hours for every bus to arrive, while they were waiting the campers were having a dance-off. The non-stop dancing went on for over 3 hours! Although dancing is a big part of African culture everywhere, I have never seen teenagers who are as skilled at dancing as the ones in Kigali.
While at camp I got to meet the amazing team of volunteers who were on the work crew, they were intentional about making sure I felt included in everything. From translating for me without being asked to making sure I am drinking enough water, their love and kindness were heartwarming. I left having made so many new friends, I am grateful to God for their faith every time I think of them.
One of my new friends is Kalinda, he went to Young Life in high school and then became a volunteer leader. He is also popularly known as one of the best barbers in Rwanda. He took a break from his successful business with over 10,000 followers on Instagram to serve the teenagers at camp. I was encouraged by his quiet faithfulness and servitude, I can’t wait to see how God continues to use him to bring hope and opportunities to young people in Rwanda.
Although I could not understand any of the talks, I know that the love of God was not only spoken but experienced.
The camp was the perfect way to experience a side of Rwanda that I don’t always get to see represented in the media. Their camp was vibrant, energic, and alive! It felt like I could feel the love of Jesus throughout the camp.
I was encouraged by the servant leadership they demonstrated. Every single volunteer, work crew, and staff made it a point to lead by example in everything. Pictured here is Young Life Rwanda’s Regional Director George participating in one of the outdoor games.
The highlight of my trip was experiencing the authenticity of the relationships between the leaders and teenagers. I could tell they felt a sense of belonging and care from their leaders, for me this is what it means to be a Young Life leader. I am thankful to the team in Rwanda for opening their hearts and homes to me so that I can tell the story of God’s love shining through Rwanda.
Special thank you to the team in Rwanda, and to Shaun and Kate who were part of an expedition trip to see a Young Life camp in Rwanda. If you’d like to learn more about Young Life in Rwanda, visit their country page or follow them on Instagram. Enjoy more photos below.