Sunday, March 25, 2012

Celebrations of All Sorts

Thursday was my 21st birthday. While most people don't remember how their 21st birthday ended, my experience was quite different I'm sure.

There's a lovely Americanized restaurant about a 15 minute walk downtown called Heaven. On Wednesdays they have drink specials, and Saturday nights they show movies on a big screen with a buffet dinner. We caught a double feature showing of The Muppets and The Ides of March last Saturday for St. Patricks day. Both were very good movies although unlike the kids who came for The Muppets, the Ides of March was a very good movie that I strongly recommend if you haven't seen it yet, even though I hated the ending.

The drink special on Wednesday was a Spiked Lemonade with a fresh rod of sugarcane. Since Thursday would be my birthday, Elena, Elizabeth, Willy, and I decided to head to Heaven a night early to catch the drink special. We had a LOT of food, and I wasn't quite prepared for how my meal would end.

Willy has obviously never experienced American dining, so he was in for quite the treat. We shared appetizers and meals so everyone could get a taste of everything. By the time we were finished with our meals, I was very full. Little to my knowledge, Elizabeth had spoken with the manager while on a "bathroom break" and they arranged a whole platter of dessert samplings to go with the homemade ice cream we ordered. I was in the middle of explaining something to Willy when I caught a glance of a large group of people gathering outside the kitchen and I saw the candle. I said "Oh great, there's a candle" and kept talking to Willy trying to mask my blushing face. The group of people emerged from the kitchen and began singing in Kinyarwanda. They were walking towards our table, and I knew it was for me, but for some reason Willy thought it was for someone else in the dining room. Much to his surprise, they gathered around out table and proceeded to sing Happy Birthday. It was very cool, and I was amazed at the large platter of desserts set in front of me. Willy was so shocked that they did that for me. He kept saying "I can't believe it!"

After three courses of food, a few drinks, and a lot of good conversation, we were ready to go. I owe many thanks to Elena, Elizabeth and WIlly for making the evening so enjoyable.

Thursday morning, Elena and Elizabeth surprised me with pancakes in the shape of 21 on my plate. It was dressed in a thick layer of Duo, which is similar to Nutella. We had some passion fruit and passion fruit juice as well. It was a great start to the day.

We had something special planned for the boys on friday night, although it didn't go exactly how we planned. During our store room clean-out, we discovered over 200 hats, and almost 200 jerseys. Elena did a project online to collect packages of underwear for the boys since they had none. I brought them over when I came in January, and we've been waiting for a good time to give them out. The Woonsocket group also brought 200 glow sticks when they came in February. So we had all of these things we wanted to be able to give the boys. I thought it would be a good idea to turn a weekend evening into a party. We wanted to give all of these things out and then have a dance in the dining hall. We kept it quiet from the boys because we weren't sure if we could get everything together in time.

We got permission to pass out the hats, and the underwear and glow sticks were ours to donate, so we could do what we wanted with them. We needed to get permission before handing out the jerseys, but we were unable to get the go-ahead before friday. So, we arranged our plan to give out the hats, underwear and glow sticks before our dance.

As the evening approached, we realized there was no power at the center. Willy would be arriving any minute with the speaker system, and there was no power to work them. We waited around in hopes the power return.

During that time, the boys were getting really anxious about the party we had planned for them. Some of the boys got together and started singing some of the new popular songs in Rwanda. There was so much positive energy in the air, and we were all hoping the power would return.

7:30 approached and there was still no power, so we decided to organize the distribution of hats and underwear to not disappoint the boys too much. The boys were organized in a line outside the dinning hall from youngest to oldest. The table was lit by candle, and the hand-out began. Once every boy received a hat and underwear, we received a few thank-you speeches from the boys. We were really happy they were finally able to use these hats and that every boy now has a pair of underwear.

Within minutes of receiving the underwear, Kaka, one of the boys, came up to me with his hat on. I told him he looked so cool, and asked where his underwear were. (You have to understand that Kaka's nickname is Spiderman, so the kids Spiderman underwear were picked out with him in mind). Kaka then lifted his shirt, and pulled the side of his pants down to reveal the spiderman picture right front and center when it was meant to be in the back. 

The dance has been postponed for next weekend. We are hoping for the power to be back by then. We are also hoping for the hand out of the jerseys to be approved so we can hand them out at the dance.

Stay tuned!

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