When you meet Amanda, the first thing you might notice is her cackle. When she laughs it reverberates around the room and can be heard as far as a kilometer. Her group, moonflowers, has an equally distinctive voice. Amanda says of the campers, "They are all different. Unique. Pretty awesome in their own ways." When it came to choosing a name for their group, many of the boys stared blankly but one ventured forth with an idea: Moonflowers. The next morning he handed Amanda a slip of paper with the following chant:
We are one.
We are one
We are one. Moonflowers.
They sign and chant it together as they walk about the campus.
You might think that working with two hearing impaired boys would splinter the group but Amanda says the opposite is true. "It's fantastic. It's more of an adhesive. None of the others are bothered by it."
Today, they participated with other teams in two games: a scavenger hunt and a bottle pass. It was a focus on team building and an introduction to leadership. In spite of their differences, Amanda says, "They are a unit. I really like that." It is not only displayed in the ways that the boys race together in the games, but also the leadership that Amanda displays. To better communicate with her campers, she is learning yet another language. And so are the campers. Everyone has a sign name (Amanda's is an index finger to the forehead) and is learning simple phrases in American sign language.
Amanda is hoping that during the week the boys might come more out of their shells and form genuine friendships. Her experience with the Peace Camp in August has taught her that is possible. In addition, she believes to empower Uganda women, boys need men to model respectable behavior. Camp BUILD? "This is the kind of thing we need."