Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Day 4 of Peace Camp - Facing Fears and Keeping Tradition

Day 4 of Peace Camp-August 15, 2012
The “ropes course” was designed by two Americans under the guise of “The Recreation Project.”   The aim of the Recreation Project is to encourage war-affected youth to face their fears, and to “challenge patterns of war through active healing experiences” by engaging in fun-but intensive activities and obstacle course.  Such activities give participants the necessary tools for team building, positive communication, and critical thinking… Brilliant!

“You’ll find yourself a changed person by the end of the day,” Zach, one of the creators of the course opened the day with. “But that’s only if you push yourself to be uncomfortable…”


One of the stations at the ropes course is called the “leap of faith.”  This is when participants climb a tree (attached to a harness) and jump off, trying to catch a bar that is floating in the air.  Everyone was terrified.


(Real time) I have to remove myself from the group because I’m too emotional after what I just saw.  We have a differently-abled camper who is in a wheelchair as a result of Polio, and has very little use of his legs. Nonetheless, he has been very active.  He even joined us in yoga yesterday, and today, decided also to take the “leap of faith.”  With dozens of other campers watching and cheering, Opiyo Dennish did just that.  Though it was challenging for him, he climbed the tree, and he jumped.  I was so inspired by his determination and courage.  What moved me the most, however, was the roaring support of his peers.  In a culture where differently-abled people are referred to as “parasites,” Opiyo Dennish defied all boundaries, and took one giant leap of faith for all differently-abled people, everywhere.

Olympia Joyce was nowhere to be seen during the “leap of faith.”  Though she is one of “my girls,” she is not in my camper group.  I did that intentionally, as she is a shy person by nature, and I wanted to challenge her a bit.  When her camp counselor (Aubrey) and I finally did find her (it seemed as though she had been hiding), we pleaded with her that she at least try the “leap of faith.” With tears forming in her eyes, she outright refused.  After a lot of counseling and encouragement though, she finally did decide to try.  Though I could see the terror in her face as she hesitated at the top of the tree, she eventually conquered her fear… and jumped.  And when it was all over, she was glowing with pride.  And so was I.
The Recreation Project facilitator closed the “leap of faith” activity by saying: “Today, you have faced your fears and have taken a leap of faith… By the end of this year, what other leaps of faith will you challenge yourself to take?
Because the war lasted for over 20 years, many of these young people missed out on a lot of their lives.  The war halted their education, and amongst other things, deprived them of their cultural and tribal traditions.  For tonight’s bonfire, we invited tribal elders to talk to the youth about each of their cultural traditions, and sat around the fire, as they do, while we listened to their stories.  Then, as a gift to each elder, each of the four tribes performed their tribal dances. 

The evening felt authentic and organic, and was the perfect closing to an incredible day.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Jenna! Peace Camp looks incredible, and what moving stories about your campers taking leaps of faith. Did you take one? ;) Besides joining the Peace Corps, of course. It seems your whole life is a leap of faith. :)) Love it, love you!