So, another trip to Kenya comes to a close and I arrive back in a cold and wet England with memories to last a lifetime.
Memories of our team, many of whom were first time CWB volunteers. Joe and Harry who work at Worcestershire CCC – great humour and real commitment to helping the children we met in Kenya. I can see Joe surrounded by a curious group of 10-year olds playing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes one minute and then the next sitting in a circle teaching them about how to avoid catching HIV. Neither of these covered in the Worcestershire typical induction training I suspect!!!
Jon and Freddie, father and son, both proud of each other and both throwing themselves into a tough schedule. With the heat and schedule everyone ends up having a tough day and it’s great to see the rest of the team rally round when this happens. I’ll remember Freddie teaching the Kenyans his version of the Barmy Army song (“the mighty, mighty Kenya…”) and who can forget Jon clinging on to a one-handed catch to dismiss Daisy the captain of the Kenyan women’s team in our friendly “international”.
Josh, our intrepid explorer, a 19 year old student from Nottingham University travelled for 24 hours via Addis Ababa to arrive in Kenya and eke out his budget. Amazing commitment and replayed in spades in the reaction of the children in Kenya.
And Tanya, experienced CWB’er who was so keen she stayed an extra three days and kept sending through pictures of additional groups of children she’d found and was working with!!
A really great team – energetic, funny, committed. How well a CWB team gels in such a short period is not to be underestimated.
Then there are our Kenya based coaches and volunteers who are working in schools all year, term time and holidays. George and Mathias have established a great network of schools they work with in Nakuru and Muranga respectively. Building such and enthusiasm for cricket that teachers say it’s the children’s favourite sport, but neither ever forgetting the most important aspect of CWBs work is much bigger than cricket – helping children understand how to protect themselves from the scourge of HIV.
We were sometimes joined by local volunteers. An amazing group of enthusiasts who the children loved and who loved them back. Most of them told me they’d discovered cricket through a CWB day themselves over the last ten years and fallen in love with the game and working with children. A really inspiring success for CWB to have its own next generation of coaches – perhaps in ten years’ time there will be coaches who were children on our trip.
And, of course, there’s Nick, the CWB country ambassador who has also been working with CWB for ten years. An ex Kenyan international who played test matches and ODIs against Ireland, he’s obsessed with cricket. He’s an inspiring leader that volunteers, Kenyan coaches, teachers and children fall in love with and who is guiding the whole CWB effort in Kenya with a gentle hand on the steering wheel, genuine humility and a constant smile.
Finally, there are the children. Always full of energy, keen to learn and impress, often thoughtful about HIV and as full of joy as any children playing in the sunshine. Their responses stop anyone feeling exhausted or down and I’m sure they teach us as much as we do them.
Kenya is a land of paradoxes. Cities with gleaming office blocks and new roads, alongside roadside shacks and poverty. Children sent to school in smart uniforms but often unable to afford the basics of a lunch or even shoes. A country of lush green beauty alongside harsh dry dust or pouring rain.
But we leave immensely richer for our experience and with memories and learning to last a lifetime.
Good luck Kenya and I’m sure many of us will return.
Asante Sana – thank you.