DAY 1 – Traveling to Huye, Rwanda from London.
The day has finally arrived and we’re off to Rwanda! To sit with modern communication times we have a group WhatsApp and it’s a constant barrage of “I’m excited” and “which terminal is it again?” messages. We all meet at ‘Spoons inside Heathrow and Claire and Iain were late, so we told them they were awful humans as we imbibed cool beverages.
It wouldn’t be a charitable trip if we didn’t bring some gear out with us for the kids to use, and we had A LOT. Luckily Commander Thom (now nicknamed Papa Gorilla) and Hope Dear (yes that is her real name) managed to do a big old bag blag and wave any extra costs. Congrats to them. A seven hour flight to Addis Ababa was ahead of us throughout the night… Hope Dear was confused to where Africa was (she thought it was near America – geography is not her strong suit) and she also slept on her food tray. There was a few hours layover in Ethiopia before a short 2 hour flight to Kigali. When we landed and were we greeted by Rwandan cricketers / coaches – Eric and Mary. Oh and Eddie, too. Eddie is driving us everywhere in his cute little white bus. Oh, and it was bloody hot.
Eric and Mary took us to the Rwandan Cricket Association where we had a random two minute meeting with them all and got a bottle of water – which was lovely. We weren’t staying in Kigali for long though because we were off to Huye… which was apparently a two hour drive but in Africa that actually means four. We were all entertained by the amazing scenery and engrossed people watching… and were all forming our first impressions of Rwanda and Africa in general. I can also guarantee that a Rwandan services is not like an M&S on the M40. After the long journey, we checked into our hotel base and made friends with a cockroach and millipede in our shower. Early to bed as we had to get up early to start the coaching fun!
Day 2 – Our first day out in the field.
Sleeping under a mosquito net is weird. I kinda felt like a princess doing some indoor camping. That aside, we had breakfast and there was marmalade which was very apt for my pseudonym.
Our first assignment of the day was to go to a school in Huye and help train some coaches, so they can teach cricket. We were pleasantly surprised by around 50 kids turning up and we had to quickly adapt the plan and split our resources into entertaining them and coaching the new cricket coaches. It was kinda difficult as a) we weren’t expecting the kids and b) we had to overcome the language barrier and the fact that most of them and never seen cricket before. Another spanner in the works was that fact that about 40 footballers were waiting to play a football match!! All in all, it was a success and a whole bunch more kids have had a go at cricket.
The afternoon session was a planned trip to a local all girl orphanage. When we were arrived, we were greeted by beaming smiles and massive hugs and high fives galore. A lot of them had played cricket before and were also super aware of all the HIV / AIDs messages that we were there to talk about. The message we are trying to get across is A (abstain), B (Be Faithful) and C (Condom). Of course we’re doing this in the most fun way possible – with dancing, singing and the odd conga. The kids seemed to get a lot out of it as did all of us.
On a personal level, all the kids are obsessed with my tattoos. Which is alien to me as they’re so ubiquitous in the U.K. I’d also like to compare coaching cricket to being in a band – you get to travel to cool places and show off in front of a bunch of people but this is far more rewarding and no one has to hear me play guitar badly. So to summarise the first two days – we’re learning quickly on our feet how coaching lots of kids with a language barrier works, John Fashanu’s ‘Awooga’ is a great rallying call and Rwanda rules.
Words by Jhon with a lot of help from Hope.
Pics by Suresh and Rob.