Today the group woke up at 6:15 and went to the ride. People were divided in two groups. The first saw the black rhinos in their natural habitat, grazing. While the second group trained the elephants to train tracking the poachers. Later, everybody came back to the lodge and had breakfast. After that, the group gathered at the big rock and climbed it and then the guide taught us how to make fire with wood. Afterward, the group had lunch, packed the suitcases and went to the bus. In late afternoon, the group reached the lodge and rested until dinner time. Hoops 4 Hope crew came to the hotel to have dinner with the group and after it Ngoni and some students made beautiful speeches about the wonderful experience we had and there was a exchange of flags with some greetings from both, Hoops 4 Hope and Ross students.
This Saturday morning we woke up at 6:30am to walk with the elephants and rhinos in there natural habitat. We all experienced the same things that these creatures do in the wild, but are split up into two groups so it’s easier to handle when around wild animals. After seeing the elephants and rhinos we went to the top of a hill to look over the beautiful land around us infested with all different types of wild animals, when having breakfast at this spot a herd of buffalo and one elephant came running in right in front of us while still eating, they said this elephant didn’t get along with the rest of the other elephants but instead was interested in the herd of buffalo and has been with them for a long time and is not sure if it’s identity. After breakfast we went to a community and learned about their culture, we also learned how to milk a cow and plow a field. Then, they gave us some of their corn, the consistency was soft and chewy. After going to the community, it was time for lunch. The site was looking over a river with elephants in front of us and people feeding them by hand. After lunch, we went to help the wild life rangers clean up a site deep in the woods. There were two jobs. One was knocking down walls with hammers, and the other was picking up pieces of wire. The purpose of this was so eventually they could turn it into a place were animals could go graze on more open fields. In between all of these adventures, we would take our time looking around to see all of the different types of animals and landscapes. After the long day, we came back to the lodge had dinner and had the rest of our night to ourselves to relax and recover.
Today we came to Imire Rinos and Wild Life Conservation Center. Firstly we had breakfast at Ballentynes Lodge and went to the kids orphanage for the last time to say goodbye. We played with the kids for about one hour and their big smiles were priceless. and then took the bus to Imire, during the way we had the change to experienced unique moments, the railroad is completely different then the ones we are used to, to get to the lodge we had to pass inside a river with the bus.
When we got at the lodge we had lunch and in the afternoon we went on a safari in which we had the chance to see and feed amazing animals such as elephants, rhinos, antelopes, monkeys. After that we had an experience climbing a rock – the chiefs of the communities used to stay up in the rocks to see when the enemies were coming – in which we were able to appreciate a wonderful view of the sunset and the nature in Imire.
Unfortunately, today was our last day with the amazing people that work for Hoops4Hope because we built lifelong friendships throughout the week. We played a couple of basketball games at an indoor/outdoor court. It was H4H vs. Ross then other local kids played as well. The feeling of playing basketball in a different country gets more surreal everyday. A television station cane to film the games and interviewed Ally and Ben after the games. They asked them about their experience was on the trip, as well as if they think that people from Zimbabwe are talented. They answered with talking about how incredible the experience was and how playing with kids and seeing smiles on all of their faces was so contagious. They also said that it was very impressive how the kids work so hard and grind on the court even if it is blazing hot outside. Afterwards, we left to prepare for a party at the H4H center. The whole night was filled with music, dancing, and heartfelt goodbyes. I presented my ukulele, signed by everyone on the trip, to Ngoni and the H4H team. After countless meaningful hugs and goodbyes, we went home and packed for tomorrow, awaiting our next adventure.
Today was a much different day then usual. We started off our day waking up and eating a delightful breakfast at the lodge. After breakfast and our brief meeting about the plan for the day we headed out and went shopping in the Sam Levy shopping center. We were able to walk around for a short amount of time until we headed to our next activity for the day. We arrived at the flea market where we were able to look at some of the locals personal work that was for sale. Some things that we saw were necklaces, bracelets and many other art works. All of the people that had shops at the flea market were very “pushy” in wanting you to look at there items , saying things such as “come in just take a look” or “come in here your friends are this way”. Also many of the sellers were willing to negotiate prices but some were very “closed doors” to negotiate certain items. After going to the market we went and completed are final activity of the day which was building a court at a local school. Sadly, due to rain, we were only able to fix up some holes in the court but it was a great experience to fix up the basketball for the kids. Some of us were even able to write are names in the cement which was pretty awesome. Overall it was a pretty influential and inspiring day.
Today we visited the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe. The main focus of the gallery was Mugabe’s forced retirement. We saw many photos of the streets of Harare flooded with happy faces protesting about their government for the first time in over 30 years. It was amazing to see the emotions of people who have never been able to walk through the streets of their own city in protest. The gallery had presented short videos and documents to represent this important moment. Other than the art and photos that has to do with the movement, there were paintings and statues. After we were done looking at the gallery, we headed downstairs to the gift shop. The gift shop offered numerous items such as shirts, magazines, key chains, and jewelry.
After our morning at the gallery, we visited a local school to play a competitive game of five on five full court basketball. There were two games, a boys game and a girls game. The girls team from the local school was very well prepared and unfortunately beat our girls team easily. After that, some of the boys from the varsity team (myself included), played against their under 16 team. It was a very close game and we each took turns having the lead to the game. Towards the end, the local team started to dominate and beat us by a close 4 points. It was so much fun to play against kids from a different country who love basketball as much as we do.
Today we went to restore a basketball court for the kids, we painted it red and we drew the lines. We played with the kids and we helped build the court. After that we went to another school, in the town where our jv basketball coach, Levi Mwanza is from. The kids were all playing basketball, we played songs and games with them, and we also ate lunch there. Some of the kids helped build trees for the community, and Mark said that we should come back after ten years to see all of the trees that we planted grown. We also got the privilege to see a marching band that came to the school to greet us and made a marching performance for us. The kids in the marching band were really talented and they were really excited to meet us. We also got a warm welcomed from the kids who wrote posters for us. It was really cute. After that we played more games with the kids and then later in the day the older kids started to play basketball with Nygel. Nygel also coached the kids and taught them basketball skills. The kids were already really good at it and they really enjoyed Nygel’s coaching. After that we gather around we said goodbye to the kids and to mark and we drove back to the lodge.