Throughout camp last year we were able to see kids transmute from shy, uncertain adolscents, to proud, goal-oriented leaders. Follow-up from camp revealed myriad successes: whether it be just a subtle change in self confidence, using a mosquito net, or continuing with school. There have been several specific kids though, that have gone above and beyod our expectations of camp joie and continue to amaze us with their intelligence, creativity, and courage. We will be highlighting several of these stories here. Please check back to learn more about our different participants!
Honou: Terry Nichol’s, a Peace Corps volunteer, nominated Honou to attend Camp Joie after working with him in village. She explained to us the constant difficulties that Honou faces in everyday life: he is constantly harassed by teachers and students in school, he cannot farm like most kids his age, and while trying to instigate several clubs and activities in his school, nobody came.
Honou came to camp and he immediately fell into his role as a leader. He supported other kids, encouraged them to participate, and helped organize activities. During a session where kids shared experiences, Honou explained that he thought his handicap was caused by evil spirits that cursed him when he was little. Due to this curse, nobody would take him seriously and many of his goals quickly failed. He continued to express that he would keep on trying, and that he really believed he had the capabilities to realize what he wished in his community.
After returning from camp, Honou’s enthusiasm did not diminish. Working with Terry and the village chief, Honou started an association for handicapped people in his village. Each meeting, about 20-30 individuals arrive: in wheelchairs, walking on hands, with home-made stick crutches, and some mothers carrying their children that cannot walk. They all gather around and listen to Honou give sessions on ways to promote healthy living. They then all perform sketches to reinforce this information. Each meeting, the group donates as much money as possible and then use this money to aid with school fees, walking aids, and food for people with handicaps. They are currently working on a project to donate money to orphans living with handicaps. Due to its popularity, Honou is now currently working on expanding the association to surrounding villages.
I strongly recommend reading Terry’s blog about Camp Joie and Honou here: http://terrynichols.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=6