Nakuru has traditionally been a strong cricket region in Kenya however with recent troubles at Cricket Kenya and the sad passing of local cricket legend and friend of CWB Martin Bentley participation in the area has reduced dramatically..
CWB first came to Nakuru in 2009 and is trying to play a small part in helping but nonetheless there is still work to do to encourage teachers to integrate cricket into their schools. There are the usual challenges of time, lack of equipment and finding champions of cricket within the education system. This means that the work that CWB does in sponsoring ambassadors and raising the profile of cricket and the benefits of integrating messages of HIV prevention is still important. Change takes time.
In the middle of the morning, what struck me was how this small effort had brought so many different members of the community together: school children, teenagers volunteering, younger adults coaching, teachers learning about the importance of sport, local health workers and of course us, as visitors, seeing how all these levels can integrate through play.
The cricket festivals that are organised on CWB project trips help to celebrate the cricket that is played in schools and local Ambassador George had done a great job in arranging the logistics to get 8 schools with two teams each to meet at the right time at the right place so that we could start on time. He had also found a number of volunteers from the local Nakuru Pirates team to help with umpiring, scoring and some general coaching advice. Useful for the team, as this was Sian and Rachel’s first experiences with competitive cricket.
With less formal work on the messaging of HIV prevention and gender equality it was a good chance to resume conversations started earlier in the week. This was boosted by the provision of HIV testing and further information from the doctor and his team. The CWB team talked about the barriers to getting tested with a bit of hand holding of those who were nervous about what a positive test result would mean for them.
As the school bell went for lunch, numbers lining up for testing were boosted by secondary school pupils who were on a break from lessons. Both boys and girls were keen to talk about HIV transmission, condom use and how HIV status affects their life. Over 100 people were tested and no positive results were returned.
A final conversation proved the benefit of what a CWB trip can do. Walking out of the school gate with Jael we heard how she used to play basketball but not many girls played so she wasn’t enjoying it. Trying out cricket at our session the previous day and being part of the tournament has encouraged her to take up cricket with her friends meaning she will keep active, build resilience and gain opportunities through sport during her teenage years. We look forward to seeing how her cricket career develops.