Many people think of Kenya and associate it with safari landscapes, perhaps a beach resort on the east coast and a hustle to get out of Nairobi as quickly as possible. The lucky volunteers from CWB, may go home with a different perspective.
Having gone behind the scenes in Nairobi to explore and coach in areas not usually frequented by tourists, and a short stay in Muranga visiting four schools in a more rural area we will go home amazed by the transformation of a scratchy piece of land into a vibrant playing field in a matter of minutes.
On arrival at a school the unspoken thoughts are “so where are we going to set up” but after direction from Coach Nick and the addition of some cones, you can begin to see the change.
Add in a couple of hundred children – in school, in uniform, despite it being their half-term break – fully enthused by Coach Mathias and the session begins.
But we also see a transformation in the children – some shy boys and girls who, once encouraged to join in, show you the biggest smiles you’ll ever see, or who surprise you by being helpful in managing their friends during the session, just when you think things are going to run out of control. Take Michael, who helped me with a session delivering health and social messages. He and his friends were too old for the cricket session but were still hanging around (testament to their love of the game and great coaching). I asked if they wanted to help, and they jumped at the chance – helping to translate our flash cards and to encourage the younger children to think of worries they have about HIV and how they would support a friend who is HIV positive. It really helped get the message across.
And not forgetting the teachers, who are stern-faced, but supportive of cricket coaching being delivered in their schools. We also encourage them to join in and once again see stern faces being replaced by smiles and laughter as they realise there’s a little more to it than it seems at first.
Everyone will take their own impressions and memories home with them, but for me – it’s being able to turn a rocky, patchy, dusty piece of land into a games field where play can bring joy to children and adults alike.
written by Tanya Boardman