An early morning start, which wasn’t difficult as every motorbike or taxi that has a functioning horn started about 0600am (and continued all day until dark!). The Cameroonian approach to driving appears to be “if your side of the road is full, use the other side” and roundabouts and cross roads are a “free for all”. But we made it to “New Bell” school for 0700am to watch all 5000 (yes 5000!) students sing the National anthem and raise the Cameroonian flag. They all stood neatly in lines in the central courtyard area. The school was built 1940 and not had much upgrade since as the Principal informed us.
So after formalities ,down to work from “ Le cricket sans frontiers”. First session 120 keen 11-12 year olds with 2 of the teachers from yesterday’s training – Patience (a bubbly enthusiastic lady) and Sandrine who was in charge . James and Jules from Cameroon Cricket Federation helped with translation. Everyone is always so happy and helpful so our early nerves are soon settled. The children, in their pristine clean kit were so keen to do well but also fiercely competitive and wanted to win any competitions we did. Girls and boys mixed well (though as at home – girls seem to be so much easier to teach).
We worked out our way of talking about the message of HIV prevention, protection and testing. They were well versed in the messages of Abstinence, Being faithful, Protection and Testing and seemed happy to talk about it in each session.
The afternoon after another incredible journey through the middle of a market was to another school with even less facilities also in the “New Bell” district but were they happy to see us. The van was surrounded by chanting happy children. “Bonjours” and “Ca va”s abound . The heat of the day is now at its peak ( probably >35) and humid. The kids look great in their neat blue uniforms. We look red, hot and sweaty but “c’est la vie”.
We are all getting more confident at managing large numbers of children (about 270-80 today). We are also having fun with the kids – high fives everywhere, smiles and laughing to be heard all around , and there are learning at the same time, both about cricket and HIV. Language is seeming less of a problem now.
Fun moment of the day is that the children all think Dom looks like a TV star called Carlos from a series called Destiny so that name has stuck.
Great start. We are all “tres fatigue’” and ready for another early start tomorrow.
Finally after finishing we had our first “international” match against the Cameroonian coaches plus Sam who are helping with us. 1-0 Cameroon (5 over game). We will be back!