Reflections from my first run with the children, my beloved former child-soldiers…
Over 160 children showed up today for our first run! OH MY GOODNESS it was a freaking circus!
We had former child soldiers running with other children, stride for stride– and as they quickly found out, no matter what’s in your past… running is a leveling agent.
Running makes you honest. Running makes you vulnerable, humble. And as they are finding out, running together is fun.
We all ran for 20 minutes together. Some of the younger children took off too fast at the beginning of the run, they found out quickly how much that winds you. I kept reminding them, “slow, slow.” The older, more mature students had to wisdom and insight to pace themselves.
At one point I was alongside about a dozen younger student- 9-12 year old girls and boys. They were having the time of their lives, they were singing and chanting. One child would called out, the others responded in unison. Later I found out what they were chanting, “That one, catch that one. That one, catch that one.” They were competing together and having so much fun!
The sun was setting when we finished. We gathered in a huge circle- I mean seriously this circle was an acre round- in the center of the field. Shouting at the top of my lungs (like a fool) I instructed them through a few stretched and then we did pushups… they laughed and counted along with me “1-2-3-4-5-6…”
When our pushups were finished we gathered closer together in a giant bundle of sweaty bodies and bright smiling faces. I asked them what they thought, “Was running fun? Was running difficult? Did they want to try it again tomorrow?” I got a resounding, “YES!” Then I asked them for their ideas, how would they like to train? These older boys have a lot of great ideas. Tomorrow the boy in the purple jacket is leading our run off campus.
The beauty in these children’s eyes, the brightness of their smiles and their stores of energy and enthusiasm are immeasurable. I wish you could all come see this for yourself.
Love from the Pearl of Africa.