Apologies for the radio silence over the past 3 days, we have been having a hugely rewarding time in WiFi-free Homabay. On Wednesday we left Kisumu via Hovic, a Home for Street children to pick up some bracelets they had made for us and drop off some gifts. It was lovely to see the kids still holding the tennis balls we had given them on our previous visit. Although Hovic is particularly humble in resources and space, the welcome we received was always warm and they do make the most of everything they are given.
On our journey to Homabay, our final destination of the CWB adventures in Kenya, we took a couple of detours. Firstly we went to the Kit Mikayi – a huge rock formation in a rural setting populated by the Luo tribe. In spite of our footwear (predominantly flip flops and sandals) and some close encounters with some bats, we climbed to the top (or second floor, no lift here) of the formation to witness some incredible views. Our guide epitomised a clash of cultures – he described the sacraficial traditions of the Luo people extremely vividly and then had an extreme health and safety awareness more commonly seen in the UK, advising us precisely which rocks were slippery and exactly where to place our feet. Onwards…next stop the Equator! After a flurry of photos, we witnessed a science experiment performed by a local where he showed the water in a bucket going clockwise in the northern hemisphere and with a quick step over the line, the water went anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere. Mind boggled!
Next stop Homabay. A totally rural setting with all that comes with it. Starry nights, no food or Tuskers (Team crisis, quickly resolved by our wonderful team leaders!), gekos (or ghettos as Tim calls them) , sunsets, trickling cold showers, bats and hedgehogs.
With a completely different setting to the other three places we coached, there was a sense of anticipation for the first schools in this area. Homabay is known for producing excellent cricketers but it also has a real problem with HIV/AIDs in the area. On Thursday we coached 4 schools and we were well aware that the standard of cricket was higher than what we had experienced before. Sam, the local coach in charge of the area has excelled in nurturing the children’s talent. Our last school of the day was a bumper session of 2 in 1 (primary and secondary together) with the school team playing against each other on the artificial wicket on their field. After a jam packed day of coaching, it was time to head back to base to witness yet another stunning sunset – there are only so many places in the world where you can do a countdown from 10 as you watch how quickly the sun appears to move below the horizon. Mind boggled once more!
Friday morning and the last day of coaching so a few members of the team decided to start it with style. From watching the sunrise to performing yoga moves on top of the rocks to splashing around in Lake Victoria and a quick run to dry off, it felt worlds away from a busy commute in London. The last two schools we coached kept up with the high standards of cricket playing in the area and the children were receptive to the ABCT messages. To top off what has been an incredible two weeks with the team, a few of us got to ride on the top of Icemans bus on the way to Nakuru, our own open air safari including our own responses to the bleeting of goats and some wise words from Masai Warrior, Daniel. After arriving in Nakuru we had our last team meal where Nicholas and Jon led us in thanks for all the work the coaches had done and reflections on the last two weeks.
I was once told that when we travel, we must take only memories and leave only footprints. I hope and pray that the footprints we have left in the hearts of the children we have coached are that of a love of cricket, a greater understanding of how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDs and a desire to pass this knowledge on. As for the memories, the photos say it all….