Anyone seen a Hippo? – Day 9

“Why did you want to go back to Kenya?  Surely you would like to visit one of the other countries?” I was asked this at our CWB training weekend by one of the new volunteers. “Well” I said “Simple. I promised the school children I would go back and you never go back on a promise to a child.”

I would love to go to one of the other African countries but to me Kenya is special, the country, the people but mostly the fantastic children. I also wanted to see for myself what has happened in the areas that we visited two years ago, was our visit in vain? Were any of the coaches we taught still active in cricket?  Had the children remembered our ABC messages? I knew that with the fantastic CWB team working in Kenya Nicholas, George and Derek, things would be good. The CWB work by these 3, new coach Mathias and the famous Maasai Warrior cricket team brothers Daniel (“Sniff the leather”) and the ever smiling Benjamin is positively thriving and it is all down to the fantastic work of these guys, our brief two weeks in Kenya is a drop in the ocean to the work done by these guys. 

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Just imagine as a cricket coach you have to take a 9 hour coach journey, spend two weeks away from your young family,  forever changing your schedule to meet the schools requirements and then get a 9 hour bus journey home.  Or as in the case of Mathias who loved watching cricket on TV, attended a CWB coach education course last year then gave up his job and started volunteering coaching cricket at schools: schools who had have never heard of the game let alone played it. One year on cricket Kenya came along to one of our sessions at one of Mathias’s schools and invited 2 players along to the Kenya age group trials. That is for me a cricket fairy tale ending.  Mathias is now part employed by cricket Kenya, not a full time position but a small help to supporting him and his family.

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Through cricket our ABCT and S messages are introduced and there is no better coach/educator than Nicholas. He has a special way with the children that is just pure African poetry, he can in an instance have a group of 250+ children in the palm of his hand chanting the ABCT messages or laughing at his introduction of the CWB volunteers! (By my next visit I am going to learn Swahili, as I am sure what he tells me afterwards is never true!)

This is only the end of week one but I have many fond memories. Firstly it was fantastic to find out that the lead coach of cricket in Kericho was a teacher called Shadrak from Kericho Primary School. Shadrak was on the CWB coach education course 2 years ago in my group so I was bowled over to find out not only that he had continued coaching at his school but was responsible for cricket in other schools in Kericho.  The festival in Kericho was held at Kericho Primary School and the pupils came across the field singing our song from 2 years ago “Who let the dogs out?!”. Thanks Vards and Collette!

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Shadrak (in the red jacket) at the Autumn 2014 CWB coach education now CWB lead coach in Kericho

My most poignant moment came today at our visit to Hovic Orphanage in Kisumu.  Two years ago our group had bracelets made by the children, I took a photograph of Tillen who made mine. Today I showed the bracelet to one of the deputy’s, told him the story, and showed him a picture of Tillen making the bracelet, he recognised Tillen straight away and told me he now had a foster mother and is in school. In fact of the 9 other boys in the picture only 1 he did not know about.  I blamed it on the dust blowing into my contact lenses but I did cry…….tears of joy!

Finally I have to apologise to my fellow team members, after many days  of telling them about the fabulous Hippopotamus’s at Lake Victoria, we visited Kiboko Bay Resort to take a boat to see the hippos, I stayed in the bar having seen them 2 years ago. Forty five minutes later the disgruntled passengers returned only having seen a boulder that resembled a hippo!  I think I will take them back on Tuesday!

Love Kenya

Big Jon

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