OK so what does a 62 year old teacher who has taken voluntary redundancy do for the next challenge, oh who also happens to like cricket? Join a CWB trip to a beautiful country – Rwanda. A few impressions, no litter anywhere, on Sunday once a month from 8 to 11 am everyone is required to help keep their area. Traffic wardens have pale blue shirts; those issuing parking permits, yellow shirts; hotel guards bottle green shirts; prisoners doing community service tasks yellow overall and the police are in black and do road checks as in the UK. A very colourful country!So for the next couple of days CWB are in the hills at 2,500 metres with 3 schools and 6 sessions booked for today, with the festival tomorrow. Kinihira is about 2 hours from Kigali, so 6 am saw us in the dinning room for breakfast, a little delayed but croissants made up for a lot! Eddie was also delayed so we set off for half an hour’s climb up through the trees with a group of monkeys, steeply terraced hills and looking down on the clouds. A loo stop and leg stretch before we started the last 20k on bumpy, dirt roads – mainly single track with versions of passing places for an hour. We drove along the flat surrounded by tea bushes and ladies picking, then up hairpin bends and constantly climbing until thoroughly shaken, if not stirred, we arrived at the top of a hill to a school with a grassy football pitch. hundreds of children greeted us as half the team left to go to another school.
4 drills were set up as the secondary school was first on, some excellent bowlers, accurate catching and serious batting followed, evidence of Landry, the local coach’s input and the keenness of the staff. However quite surreal with boys using sharp little curve knife to cut fodder on the outfield. Whilst the secondary were playing the tiny kids went two by two into the area around a shrine to the Virgin Mary for prayers.Hope was not on form with a lousy cold but when 180 junior kids arrived Ian took over and a 90 a side rapid fire game started, 9 at a time. World war 3 started as balls were smashed, thrown and collected with Bob as the umpire. The change of roles has the 180 streaming across the field, a sight to behold! (The other group were on the top of the mountain teaching 180 kids in a tiny space on a building site!).
Lunch was at the local tea plantation guest house, rambling rose over the door and when we walked around the side, WOW! A table with cloth, napkins and flowers was laid under the veranda in front of a tennis court leading to a viewing platform of the surrounding hills, tea bushes on the steep slopes below the platform! An amazing lunch and then the worst thunder storm of the trip started, within 10 mins there was an inch of rain on the tennis court. As it continued discussions were held with Eddie our driver who was not well and Landry. The road to the third school was deemed too dangerous we had to beat a retreat to Kigali, a real shame.
At the comfort stop we met an old bearded guy with large hat and pointed shoes curled up at the front, lovely guy. In now usual CWB fashion we changed and headed for the bar, out in the rain and there is a no alcohol policy at the Christian guest house where we are staying. However they put on a cracking buffet supper!
Wednesday again saw us having breakfast at 6 am, new bus driver Stephen as Eddie is still unwell. Our Stephen is slightly speedier and we climbed the hills swiftly, this time in glorious sunshine, only 2 monkeys out to play, one playing chicken on the road. The old guy was at the comfort stop again but as we turned off the tarmac road chaos hit us, market day in the nearly deserted village of yesterday. Fruit, veg, goats, pigs, chickens, tea, sugar cane, doors, rolled up corrugated tin, motorcycle taxis, bicycle taxis, blocked the streets and then more and more people coming down the track past the swollen orange brown river. Ladies with bowls on their heads full of veg carrying a baby on their back ad a bag in hand. Doors on the back of bicycles and in a field cones set up for learner drivers!
Anyway past the tea plantations, narrow terraces, some about 4 foot wide, up to the top of the hills, gardeners and tea pickers in their green aprons. Festival time with the school we had missed arriving so we had 8 teams, starting only slightly late. The primary kids being entertained catching balls hit by the team. Several discussions were held by various members of CWB ref the rules but all ended well with loads of games played. In my team I had a small tactician who laid the law down but unfortunately the tactics did not always work! The staff were as competitive as the kids shouting and clapping. There is a covered seating area where the primaries not playing shouted on their school, Thom had the home teams play there to avoid more chaos! Can those cricketers throw and catch, if they continue with the game Rwanda will have some amazing players.
Once the festival was over we had been invited back to the tea factory by the general manager, lunch provided in the same style, tour of factory, snorting noises at the tea tasting and back to Kigali to end an amazing day with hundreds of youngsters seen with the HIV message given and understood, repeated many times, ABCT at every drill and game. A glorious setting with some adorable kids – amazing!
So when you retire – do something different, it works!
Written by Sally Barrell.