For anyone who thought we were coaching in hot sunny conditions, we are just slightly north of the equator in Laikipa and it is the Kenyan equivalent of winter out here at the moment… well as close as you can get to winter when living on the equator . It is more akin to English summertime, fleeting glimpses of warm sunshine but often grey, overcast with the immanent threat of rain just around the corner.
This makes heading out to Benjamen and Daniel’s home town Bendana more entertaining as the roads are mud tracks, and taking a minibus through mud is never going to end well. Following an attempt to drive through the African savannah and getting even more stuck in the mud, we leave James (aka Maverick who is the bus driver) to look after the bus whilst we take the last 2 miles by foot across the terrain. As we enquire with Daniel to the risk of being eaten by a lion, he duly informs us of ‘No chance’. When we ask about the risk of leopard, the simple response is ‘ You don’t want to know’. Crashingly reassuring.
We all make it to the school in one piece with only the sighting of a giant tortoise on route in terms of the wildlife, for which we were all grateful for. As we set up the coaching stations, the storm clouds out towards Mount Kenya to the east of where we are coaching are brewing and we are conscious that we will be spending the day running away from the rain clouds.
On the entrance to the school we read the pupils stats for the year, which show a steady increase of girls and boys taking their national exams (exams taken on leaving school). Like the school yesterday they have also started to take in girl borders, and have taken in two girls recently who were at risk of early marriage.
There is still a way to go to change attitudes. During the FGM awareness session Esther had a challenging conversation with two of the participants who could not understand what the problem of FGM was. As blog writer I (Jules) was engaged in a conversation where it was quite explicitly stated that the Maasai girls would do their primary education, up until the age of 13 if no gaps in education, but then would not continue as they were Maasai and that’s not what Maasai girls do. The Maasai girls stay at home.
It would be easy to condemn. On going on this project people ask ‘How can something barbaric take place in this day and age?’ This is something that is so entrenched in the culture, not just FGM but the severe gender inequality, that it is seen as the normal. If you think about it, its only within the past 100 years that back in the UK (and other developed countries to be fair) that women have had the right to vote, right to be heard and have broken down barriers to secure a living themselves. In reality there are women all over the world still battling for equality. Its only by challenging and breaking these barriers that women have been able to move forward.
This project’s ultimate purpose, through cricket, is to challenge what is perceived to be normal and to offer differing viewpoints for a generation who can make that change within their community, whilst also being there to support those battling inequality.
Day two stats
Number of schools coached: 2
Number of children coached: 450