As we return home and reflect upon our trip, it is difficult to use words to describe this experience . The word “Ubuntu” truly does sum up this adventure. There truly is universal bond that unites cultures and energies and it is true that I am because we are…
During our final days in Zimbabwe, we departed from Hoops 4 Hope and Zim Kids to enjoy safari and outdoor adventure activities.
While we viewed beautiful animals in their natural habitats, watched elephant families play in the water, hippos and buffalo existing together, rafted the class 5 rapids of the Zambezi River, viewed Victoria Falls, watched Gianluca bungee jump from the Zimbabwe/Zambia bridge and ate decadent meals, our hearts were full from our time with Hoops 4 Hope and heavy with the understanding that we will be leaving soon.
On our final night, after returning from our “vacation” we spent a beautiful evening with our friends from Hoops 4 Hope. We danced, sang, played ball, ate amazing traditional foods, shared stories, exchanged contacts and hugged and cried. My heart was personally over full with the joy I learned each day interacting with Hoops 4 Hope and the children they serve and deeply saddened, fearing I may never see my new friends again. As I watched the faces of our students, it was obvious that so many of them were truly changed and that they had made emotional and social leaps, while discovering they could step out of their comfort zones, open their hearts to strangers and be loved and respected simply for being who they are.
In the words of musician Jeff London, I am so grateful to have “felt the drug of being whole” during our 15 days in Zimbabwe and so proud of the students for embracing each day with an open mind and an open heart.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Before this trip I was scared to leave North America. I was scared to go to Africa. I was scared to fly on a plane for 20+ hours. I was scared of what was waiting for me.
I now know I made the right choice. Working with Hoops4Hope been incredible and invaluable. What I have learned from the staff and children from Hoops4Hope and the people of Zimbabwe has been indescribable. The pure joy and happiness from everyone here is contagious and inspiring. My perspective and appreciation for life has been forever changed.
Taking life for granted is a luxury we can avoid. Hoops4Hope proves that people impact lives more than any material possession. Ultimately, it is not what we do, but how we do it that matters.
Tatenda Hoops4Hope, Zimbabwe and the amazing group from Ross that made this journey just that; a journey. See you soon.
“Ndati jumba mfana; Tiri kujumba mukoma…”
Our hearts are full; mine certainly is. Even after being back in the U.S. for a week, I keep catching my mind wandering back to Zimbabwe. I think about the generosity and kindness of the people, the amazing landscapes, and the impact that both the Ross School students and the Hoops4Hope staff and children had on each other. Not a day goes by where I haven’t seen Ross students humming a Hoops4Hope song or telling stories of their travels. The impact that this experience has had on our students has been great and far reaching. Hoops4Hope and ZimKids both provided amazing opportunities for our students to engage, to smile, and to have their hearts filled up. This group of students grew tremendously over the course of the 15 days on the ground and I could not be prouder of them.
To our friends in Zimbabwe, thank you for opening your hearts and welcoming us in your lives.
To our Ross School students who made this adventure exceptional, thank you for being open to trying new things and being tremendous throughout.
Although we do not remember days, we remember moments; Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moments with love, grace, and gratitude.
Haotian (Jason) Liu
I had no idea that I would make such close friends in Zimbabwe who I would eventually come to know as my brothers on this trip. I want to return to Zimbabwe and continue to do more work with Hoops4Hope as soon as I can. The experience was truly life changing.
In Africa, it feels like you have no choice but to live in the moment. Maybe it’s the constant proximity to danger and death that allows the life there to flourish in such an incredible way, where everything that’s alive feels more energetic and vibrant than it does anywhere else. The trees, the animals, the clouds, the people, and the sunsets are all deeply saturated and intense. Being a part of such a beautiful landscape every day made me feel more and more human. Ater a few days I stopped to care about the cuts, the dirt, the bites, and the bruises that I would let appear on my body throughout the day, because feeling self-consciousness or disgusted by it all would’ve taken too much time away from enjoying the childish happiness I could get from running jumping playing laughing and exploring. I forgot my limitations and now that I’m back, all my problems seem petty and solvable. I loved Africa, and I can’t wait to go back.
Our actions will impact lives for years, but our memories will live on forever.
Working with Hoops4Hope was an amazing experience. On the first day of working with the kids, we were all overwhelmed by the huge numbers of boys and girls singing and dancing. When we walked up to them, they were extremely friendly and curious about us. They asked what our names were and where we had come from. They all wanted to hold our hands when we formed circles. They were so full of joy, and life, and music and energy. They loved taking selfies with us, were super curious about our technology, and loved seeing themselves in the pictures. I loved that the girls were just as athletic and eager to participate as the boys. They all loved singing and tried to teach us a few of their songs. It took us a while but eventually we sounded pretty good too.
Working with Hoops for Hope has had such a positive impact on myself and the other students. I think using sport to teach kids about important life skills, HIV, and to stay away from drugs and alcohol is a great way to educate the children. Becoming friends with hundreds of kids and getting out of my comfort zone by dancing and singing with them is an experience I will always cherish. I will never forget the faces and smiles of the kids that come to play basketball with Hoops4Hope every day and I am already planning a trip back to hoops for hope in Zim.
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?”- Anne Frank
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy” – Anne Frank