Thursday was a big day for team Rwanda, not only was it our first coaching day in Kigali but it was also Hope’s 22nd Birthday! Due to some changes to our schedule earlier in the week, we had eight sessions to deliver, so we split into two groups. My group headed to a school in Ndera which thankfully had a huge outdoor space as the 100 primary school kids we were expecting unsurprisingly became almost 200! We’ve discovered that it’s always best to double any kind of estimate that’s given to you, whether we’re talking about kids, distances or time!Our second session was with some secondary school kids, with a mix of those who had played before and complete beginners. The group was a manageable 60 which also meant we could chat to them about HIV awareness. We set up a game with those who had played before and went through a few drills with the others. It was amazing to see how how quickly these kids picked up the basics of batting, bowling and catching.
We met up with the other group for lunch and a cancelled session meant we were reunited for our final two coaching sessions of the trip – 400 kids, hundreds of ABC chants and hundreds of Awoogas later, we collapsed in the minibus and headed for a quick look at the Rwanda Cricket stadium site that will open in October 2017.
Good communication isn’t one of Rwanda’s strong points, and a slight breakdown meant we would only be able to pay a quick visit to the Meg Foundation School – an amazing refuge for the poorest of children in Kigali that provides food, education and a caring environment, allowing them to benefit from the same opportunities as other youngsters in Rwanda. We were greeted with a song and big smiles before we handed over some t-shirts we had brought with us. It’s amazing the impact the smallest of gestures can have – each and everyone of those children had the largest of smiles on their faces. We were disappointed not to be able to do any coaching with the kids but left vowing to return if the opportunity arose again.
We couldn’t let Hope’s birthday go past without a bit of a celebration, so in true CWB style we found ourselves at Plus250 bar for a spot of ‘cara-oke’ with some of our Rwandan rivals from last week’s T20. Papa G became karaoke King and led the boys through a spectacular rendition of Westlife’s version of Uptown Girl. I’m not sure they’ll be winning the X-factor anytime soon but the crowds loved it!It’s fair to say we all felt a little ‘tired’ this morning but were super excited about our final festival of the week. We’ve learned during our trip that things don’t happen very quickly in Rwanda and some things don’t happen at all! Today was one of those days. For reasons unbeknown to us, no schools turned up to our festival and the children housed by the Rwandan Orphanage Project had been shipped out to the East of the country! You just couldn’t have made it up!Whilst the thought of going back to bed sounded appealing, we resisted the temptation and headed back to the Meg Foundation School to play some cricket with the children there. It was well worth it to see the smiles on those kids faces. We were greeted with hugs all round and got the whole school involved from nursery through to the teenagers. No trip to Rwanda would be complete without trying to understand more about its harrowing past. A visit to the Kigali Genocide memorial gave a moving account of the events of 1994 and how the past has helped shape the future of this beautiful country.
Although our final day in Rwanda didn’t go quite as planned, it did mean we had a few hours of downtime to catch up on sleep before heading out for our last team dinner. I’ve been lucky to share this experience with a great team of people. I’ve also discovered that Rwanda is a beautiful place with lovely people and I’d definitely like to return one day. Thank you Rwanda and Team CWB – it’s been a blast!
Written by Claire Hall.