Field notes

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!
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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.
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Running makes you honest. Running makes you vulnerable, humble.  And as they are finding out, running together is fun.
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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.
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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!
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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…”
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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.
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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.
Apwoyo owotena,
Kelsey

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