Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#LetHadiGo....For Now....

I used to watch smugly, as a person who didn't have children, at the sad parents who were victims of their 4 year old's meltdown in the aisles of Walmart.  I would think to myself, "What happened to cause this?  My mother never would have allowed me to behave like that!"

Then again, I was raised in the days of spankings, backwards seats in wood paneled station wagons inhaling carbon monoxide from the fumes being sucked into the back of the car and no car seats.  Parents didn't put up with crap in the 70's.  Then again, they wouldn't have had social services called on them for yanking their bratty kid off the floor while simultaneously swatting their sorry ass.  Parents were quick to enforce discipline often with Spiderman like moves.  

I never had children....until I moved to Rwanda.  To all you parents out there who felt my judgment in a Walmart, Target or grocery store in America, while you're children decided to thrown down the manipulation tantrum, "I am sorry."

In November 2015, Team Rwanda, my boys, walked out one week before the Tour of Rwanda over payment not received from the 2014 Tour of Rwanda and for lack of insurance protecting them while training and racing for the national team.  When they told us they were going to stage a walk out, we talked to them about handling it in a more professional manor, they opted to strike.  Janvier Hadi, one of the riders I was closest to, was one of the leaders of the walk out.

Janvier is an easy kid to like.  He speaks English, he's charismatic, he's a leader, and has this megawatt smile which can melt one instantly.  That is, until you realize, the manipulation and darkness behind that smile.

Janvier is a survivor.  He was born in a refugee camp in 1991, three years prior to the genocide.  I believe it has shaped him as much as growing up in an idyllic two parent suburban home in Chicago and Kansas City did me.  I understand how Janvier thinks, why he does what he does, he's spent his whole life "surviving", that is something that is never erased from the neural pathways.  His greatest asset of surviving is also his achilles heel.  

In January, Janvier and I sat on the side of the porch of a rider house at ARCC weeping.  I cannot remember now what triggered the episode.  We were all on egg shells after the Tour of Rwanda walk out and trust and confidence were not part of our day to day world anymore.  I remember telling Janvier I forgave him for the November event but I also told him I would not, never, go through another.  If it happened again, if he instigated another walkout, I would leave.  I did not speak this as a threat.  I spoke from a place of such raw hurt and sadness.  I simply didn't think I could handle another betrayal.  Janvier and the riders had turned on us.  It was the most difficult time of my life.

I have had friends who have had children with addiction issues, drugs, alcohol.  I recall one friend telling me her daughter was on meth again, pregnant again, and had dropped out of school.  I felt for her.  How do you handle knowing you tried your best to give your child all the opportunities for a good future from the minute he or she was born and then having all the hopes and dreams for a bright future ripped right out of your soul?  I thought I understood the pain she was feeling.  Not even close.

Since that day on the porch in January, Janvier has slipped further and further away.  In June he left the Continental team he was signed to for the entire year.  After spending months securing his visa to Germany, he did a couple of races and then messaged us saying he was not being treated well and not being paid.  We immediately contacted his team owner.  Mr. AM and I had met with the team owner in Germany last year and know him well.  We also saw where the team was living that time.  It was undergoing a remodel but was still very nice.  The German town where the team house is located actually has many Eritrean and other African refugees.  He was with another Rwandan and a couple of Eritrean riders he knew well.  The Eritreans asked him what was in Rwanda for him and why wasn't he staying to race in Europe.  That is their apparently wasn't Janvier's.

I encouraged Janvier to stay in Germany.  He stated in a heated Facebook message exchange, "You can't make me."

"Of course I can't and I won't but I am going to tell you what will happen if you leave.  This is possibly your last opportunity to race professionally.  Things have not been good in Rwanda either.  We are not racing and the government is not paying stipends for races."  I wanted Janvier to know the reality and ramifications of his rash decision to leave.

2016 has not been a banner year for forward progress in Rwanda for several reasons.  That is how business goes, it ebbs and flows.  2016 was a definite "ebb" year.  We were struggling with a budget shortfall, the Federation was not on point, the Ministry of Sport had no money due to a large football (soccer) tournament at the first of the year.  Things were not communicated going into the year, we were left scrambling, the team was unhappy.  It was a serious "ebb" year.  

But in the end, we gave Janvier his "out".  He didn't need to deal with any of the issues we were facing this year.  He had a team and he could race, be seen and maybe parlay that into another team for 2017.  BikeAid was his stepping stone and he threw it back into the lake.

When I was a senior in high school I quit volleyball and track.  I was burnt out.  I was in so many extracurricular activities, I worked and I was a straight A student...and I was done.  I quit.  I understand pressure.  I tried to help Janvier through it.  In the end, he was more concerned about saving face.  His reputation performed center stage in the Rwandan media while trampling all of the people who had helped him along the way.  

The "journalists", I say that in quotes because the "journalists" giving Janvier the stage in the media to basically tear down everyone who had ever helped him, thought they were doing him a favor, telling "his" story.  They never once interviewed any of the other parties, MINISPOC, FERWACY, Janvier's coaches and even me.  There was even a tweet with yet another pro Janvier/throw Team Rwanda under the bus article which started #BringHadiBack.  

My heart broke.  

The lies, the accusations, the public dismissing of everything anyone had ever done to help Janvier reach his dreams, it was just too much.  

I told Janvier I would never go through what I went through in November of 2015 again with him.  I kept quiet for weeks, maybe months while he tore down everything good in his life.  And then another article stating he "retired".  At that point I mentally walked away from the kid laying on the store floor thrashing about for attention.  He let out one final scream and I walked away.

Have you ever seen a child have a really nasty temper tantrum in public?  It's quite the spectacle.  I've seen parents plead, threaten time out, yank the kid off the floor.   Rarely do you see them just walk away.  My mother would have walked away.  Sometimes, you just need to let them tantrum it out.  

When no one is left, when the child has alienated everyone, they are left lying on a dusty floor, alone, and further behind than when they started.  The other day, his coach, who was training with the team out on the road, saw Janvier.  Janvier tried to ride with the team.  Coach told him he could not train with the team.  He had retired.  He had said so publicly after weeks of lies and accusations.  He didn't want to be a part of the sport any more so there was no reason to train with the team.  

He was wearing his national kit.  He might be a 25 year old man, but he's still the scared child in the DRC refugee camp.  

I love Janvier like a son.  He created this world he's now having to navigate.  I cannot help him.  He needs to finish thrashing it out on the floor.

When he's done....I'll be there.  In the parking lot, waiting, because that's what someone who really loves you unconditionally does.   

#LetHadiGo....for now.


  1. Hi Kim,
    After reading your heart-breaking story with all the challenge of nurturing plus giving it all you had for Hadi's lost soul.
    I can only imagaine the pain that Hadi caused to you in person.He walked out on you but he also walked out on a career that you helped him achieve.

    He basically slapped the hands that directed him to the better him and completely forgot where he mushroomed from.

    I would regard him as a complete stupid senseless young man that is full of tantrum but on the other side i thought the worse as he is a dis-grace infront of Rwandans who he has let down too.
    You are a such a good soul-hearted person with whom iam worried that you may let Hadi in back again on the scene.

    Tell you what Kim?

    If i were you,i would never ever give a second thought again on her......Period!!

    Stay blessed and keep up the good work you are doing for us Rwandans.


    UK disaporan

  2. Well written Kim. What you wrote is the backstage to life where the world only wants to see the romantic side of the front stage is like. Backstage is where life happens and quite often it is a difficult cast who only want to be on the front stage according to their conditions. Your words said one thing to me which I am very proud that I know you and that is you love unconditionally. Everyone can love on the front stage, the backstage is where conditions change and they change rapidly and often. It is often a thankless job. Being in the shadows when the spotlight is on the front stage is tough. I have a postulate for living my life as I am usually in the back stages of others' lives. I "live my legacy today, so I can leave a greater legacy tomorrow." The very profound insight you share is a reflection of your deep beliefs and upbringing. People want to live on the front stage. They all want to be Tom Hanks or Angelina Jolie, not a stage hand. But the greatest virtue in people are those who can be honest with themselves. They have spiritual integrity. Most of the world has spiritual dis-integrity which is sad. They try to be something they aren't. You put it out there as an honest person doing the work God has called you to do. We know Jesus Christ did most of his work back stage, but He also moved mightily yet graciously onto the front stage. He was betrayed, humiliated, mocked and suffered because of the world where the front stage people rejected him. You won't know, none of us know how we have impacted people in our lives until one day when we are all together. then we will realize how much it was worth being backstage. But remember Kim, you will have chances in this life to be on the front stage. You will get more opportunities to shine. Sometimes God uses crises and relationships with only one intent, to draw you nearer to him. Others on the back stage are watching and there are some on the front stage watching. You will impact them in ways you don't know. Most back stage dwellers don't know how to get ready for the front stage. But you do. This blog showed us unconditional love, grace, sacrifice and commitment. No one can say you weren't ALL IN, aren't ALL IN or won't be ALL IN. Keep doing what you are doing and know there will be a harvest.

    1. Thank you Jake....I've had a good teacher :)