As we sat down for breakfast (omelette, omelette or errr omelette) on Sunday morning, the TV in the restaurant was playing out a scene from an African soap opera (think Hollyoaks but far worse acting…no I didn’t think that was possible either)…it was emotional stuff. It was due to be a relatively quiet day by CWB standards, and after some long, but totally rewarding days coaching cricket and spreading HIV awareness messages to over a thousand children in the Kayonza area, a trip to a local orphanage, and an afternoon of coach education session felt like a breeze. Well that was the plan…but as we have all quickly come to realise, plans don’t really count for much in Africa. If the emotion of Rwandas number one soap opera had us crying into our omelettes, our heart strings were about to be pulled to the max.
Firstly, quite possibly the cutest little puppy ever seen had become trapped in some wire just outside our hotel reception. Step forward Hope Dear, who put all thought of fried chicken to one side, and became CWB’s answer to Animal Hospital / Pet Rescue, freeing the little dude from its plight. That’s dust in my eye by the way, honest.
*cute picture alert*
And so, on to the Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association , a local NGO registered in Rwanda which works to protect and rehabilitate children who have been living on the street as well as preventing them from reaching the streets in the first place, and are doing some fantastic work.We were met by Valentina who runs the Kayonza branch and who introduced us to 30 girls eagerly awaiting our arrival with a hug for each and every one of us…300 odd hugs in 2 minutes. What a lovely welcome.After some brilliant dance performances from the girls (which had Iain and I quaking with fear that we might be asked to join in), and then loads more ace cricket games, Hope, already turned animal rescuer, finished the day off by turning her hand to a bit of break dancing, with quite possibly the finest example of ‘the worm’ Rwanda has ever seen…why wouldn’t you? The kids, of course totally loved it.Monday signalled the end of our stay in Kayonza, and the traditional festival for all the local schools that we’d visited. Hundreds of kids were there to watch, and the atmosphere was great. There was definitely a bit of competitiveness amongst the team to coach the winning school, as Claire demonstrated by covering about 20m with Boltesque speed to take a catch and dismiss one of the kids…finishing with a full on knee slide to celebrate (this may not all be quite true). Iain remains the most wonderfully charming English man abroad, insisting on a coin toss, and having his team so well drilled they set a different field for the left handers. He’s pure class.Tip of the hat to Jhon for his team’s fair play (take note Miss Hall), and to Bhob’s team for taking the honours. Sally’s bowling is coming on a treat, despite protestations that she was being ‘too fair’!I knew when I met Team Rwanda at the coaching weekend that we were a good bunch of folk, and we were gonna do a whole heap of positive things out here.It’s been an inspiration and an education to watch each and every member of the team step up and adapt to the numerous different scenarios we’re faced with at every coaching session. 50 kids can become 300 at the blink of an eye. Not a problem. Rain can force you to design impromptu games in makeshift sports halls. No worries. At the end of every single session, kids have run around, laughed loads, learnt a bit more about the beautiful game of cricket, and had lessons about HIV awareness delivered to them in the most fun, positive way possible. You only have to look at the smiles to know we’re dong a great job.
Thanks Team, it’s a total pleasure to be here with you.
Written by Rob Ayerst.
PS: When we left Kayonza all four puppies were alive and well and running about in the hotel’s hedge.