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Climbing Club Members Reach New Heights

31 Jul

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Two former members of our Climbing Club program, Kichel Denis and Rubangankene Godfrey, have joined TRP’s staff as Level One Facilitators. Both men feel their participation in climbing club was a life-changing experience that empowered them to overcome the obstacles of their past and make a better future for themselves.  Here are their stories:

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Kichel is a former TRP Climbing Club member.  He came to TRP when invited by the local Councilor to join a club that provides weekly training sessions in climbing and life skills.  He is one of many who came to town to seek refugee from the rebels, and spent his nights at the nearby hospital.  “Many of us have nothing to do these days, so there are a lot of bad behaviors.  Most of us are looking for day-jobs to get something to eat.”

Kichel is the second born of 9 siblings.  His father is a farmer and cultivates bananas, sugarcane, and raises fish, and bees.

“I am so proud of my job at The Recreation Project,” says Denis.  “As the leader of the climbing club, I learned how to deal with my age-mates who used to show up to sessions drunk—it hasn’t been easy.  But through this process I have built a lot of confidence in myself and have become a very determined person”

 

Godfrey (640x427)Rubangakene Godfrey

Rubangakene came to Gulu town in 1996 when violence pushed people from his village to nearby trading centers or towns.  He is a former climbing club member that was invited to the club by a fellow volleyball player.  His team “Ker meri ubin” (Thy kingdom come) was practicing when he eagerly accepted the invitation to try the new sport.

Rubangakene lives with his uncle.  Even though he finished high school and was admitted to agricultural college, his family didn’t have enough money for the school fees.  A couple of years ago his friend offered to rent him a motorcycle and since that time, Rubangakene has been working as a boda-boda driver (motorcycle taxi).

“Some of us (climbing club members) had nothing to do,” Godfrey recalls.  “But after being part of the club, we realized that we could actually pick ourselves up and keep trying.  The Wilderness Excursion was a changing point in my life and many of the other guys.  I got a new perspective of myself, and knew that I had new horizons”

“Working with TRP has allowed me to support my ageing parents and sustain myself. I always remind the guys at the climbing wall to preserve—we never know how high we can go.”

TRP Welcomes Amony Fosca to our Ugandan Team

30 Jun

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Our newest team member, Amony Fosca, is a Sister in training and is in charge of TRP’s hospitality for the next two years.  Here is her story:

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I was born in Kitgum (northern Uganda) in 1993, and given the name “Amony” which means “soldier” at a time when bullets were flying.  My mother told me that the nurses were quaking with fear and almost refused to accept for her to deliver from the hospital because rebels were upon them.  Fear was an every day reality.  No one would be home by 6 in the evening, we all commuted to a nearby church or hospital for refuge.

The reality of the war was felt by everyone and left its impression on me as well.  As a three year old, rebels came into my village while my parents were away digging the garden and I was accidentally left behind, under a tree, as people ran to escape.  When the rebels came to me, I was laughing and welcomed them.  They picked me up and played with me before stealing what was in the granary.  A neighbor who saw this later told me that I wanted to keep playing with them, but how lucky I was that I didn’t get hurt.  Later in life, when my minibus was ambushed and I spent the night on the side of the road, I realized how cruel the rebels could be, and this time a fellow traveler didn’t make it.

I come from a humble family, and was raised by my grandparents.  From the first grade I was welcomed and supported by Sisters and Priests of the Catholic Church.  I was invited to attend boarding school at no cost.  While at school, I helped the Sisters with chores and was drawn to their way of life.  After elementary school I had no means of going to high school.  My father said that I should learn tailoring and earn some income for the family, but I had no interest in tailoring.  I simply volunteered at the church and helped them with cleaning, ironing, and other small tasks.

A priest asked me why I wasn’t in school and I told him my story.  He was able to pay my fees for High School at an all-girls school just south of the Nile river where many girls escaped the environment of fighting to focus on education.  I had almost given up hope when this chance came my way.  I thrived at school and became a leader in Liturgy and Girls Scouts.  I wanted to join the congregation since I was very young, but the Sisters and Priests advised me to go further in formal education, because it would be difficult once in the convent.  I received a certificate and then a diploma from a training institute near the capital city, Kampala.

The Recreation Project is my first job and I am so excited to be a part of changing the lives of other young people.  I know, from experience, that there are many young girls suffering in the village.  It was the kind heart and good life style of the Sisters that inspired me to strive forward.  My dream is that I can be the encourager and to teach important life skills to the hurting, just as I received from the Sisters.

The Recreation Party

13 Jun

NYC fundraiser

NYC fundraiser

The Recreation Project’s first party in NYC is fast approaching! If or in the NYC area, head to the Recreation Party at Brooklyn Boulders with food by Dinosaur BBQ on June 20th at 6:00. There will be music, food, drinks and of course climbing! Oh and some sweet raffle prizes too! Check out the event page to get your ticket.

 

 

The Confidence Gap

17 Apr

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Building confidence is one of our highest priorities at The Recreation Project. Research has consistently shown that high levels of confidence have a direct correlation to enhanced quality of life—whether or not there is competence to back up the confidence. Adolescents are in important phases of life where their experiences are extremely important in steering them towards confidence or self doubt. I found an interesting article addressing the issue of male/female confidence—and wanted to share a few pieces with you., further justifying our bend towards involving girls in outdoor adventure and sports. It’s called “The Confidence Gap”, written by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in the Atlantic.

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“ …For some clues about the role that nurture plays in the confidence gap, let’s look to a few formative places: the elementary-school classroom, the playground, and the sports field. School is where many girls are first rewarded for being good, instead of energetic, rambunctious, or even pushy. But while being a “good girl” may pay off in the classroom, it doesn’t prepare us very well for the real world….

…the result is that many girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. IMG_0987This is to their detriment: many psychologists now believe that risk-taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building….

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…Too many girls miss out on really valuable lessons outside of school. We all know that playing sports is good for kids, but we were surprised to learn just how extensive the benefits are, and how relevant to confidence. Studies evaluating the impact of the 1972 Title IX legislation, which made it illegal for public schools to spend more on boys’ athletics than on girls’, have found that girls who play team sports are more likely to graduate from college, find a job, and be employed in male-dominated industries. There’s even a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a bigger salary as an adult. Learning to own victory and survive defeat in sports is apparently good training for owning triumphs and surviving setbacks at work….

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…What a vicious circle: girls lose confidence, so they quit competing, thereby depriving themselves of one of the best ways to regain it….”

Introducing Danielle Anthony

26 Mar

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IMG_0688Danielle received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology at IU South Bend. Formerly, she worked for Big Brother Big Sister as a case manager with concerned youth. She equipped and educated the mentors to positively guide and influence the youth. Danielle’s interest in working with youth and love for outdoor sports/adventures is a great opportunity to join both passions. She is assisting in the development of a sustainability plan to TRP, facilitating youth groups at the forest, and co-facilitating the all-girls climbing club. She is delighted to work with the youth of Uganda and treasures the special moments that are to come. Danielle is also the lead nursery school teacher for the Gulu International Nursery School Cooperative—where Ben and Holly’s daughter Elliyah attends school. Danielle enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing tennis, trail biking, swimming, and sharing new adventures with friends.