Just to paint a picture, I’m sat outside mine and the rest of the lads’ room – watching a group of monkeys swing by a nearby tree… not something you can say every day!
One thing that has really surprised me is how picturesque Rwanda is. “The land of a thousand hills” is a fitting pet name for the country but doesn’t quite do it justice. The backdrops of our training sessions, meals and drives has continuously been absolutely stunning to say the least.
Anyhow, onto yesterday. An 8:45 start for a short drive to a local primary school and as has become the norm we was greeted by hundreds of local smiling children; waving and singing. Believe me, to date I have not found a better way to start your day. An accumulation of cones and wickets were set up to the delight of the children and off we went. As the session progressed it made me seriously question – how on earth do these kids maintain this incredible level of enthusiasm and activeness? In the baking sun with little food or water? Especially when you compare it to back home when at times you’re lucky to receive a grunt in response to a question.
As team CWB we were more well-oiled, the sessions ran smoothly with the health messages being incorporated naturally into the drills and games – because what has to be remembered on these projects is without these fundamental messages the cricket becomes irrelevant. A short break followed, in which myself and James wandered to the local football ground; Huye Stadium. A huge piece of stadia painted in the colour of the Rwanda national flag. Whilst we were there Nina and Sara found the local market which “sells everything you could imagine and more”.
The hour break quickly ended and back on the coach to school number 2 of the day – a slightly more rural school along a hilly, dirty track.
On arrival a simply incredible background of hills met us – the type of location that is going to make the local village fields at home we all coach on seem a little bit ordinary. A slight problem though… a 20-foot hill in the middle of the field. With that said, it has taken me less than 4 days to realise that improvisation is Cricket Without Boundaries specialty. So a batting station was formed into what I can safely say is the most amusing make shift net I’ve ever seen.
Again, the session went well with the children being coached batting, bowling and catching (as well as the health messages) to the on-looking village elders. On departure, the school sang their cricket song “O-Lay, O-Lay, O-Lay… Cricket is a good sport”. I mean it isn’t going to win any awards for the world’s best lyrics but the sense of love and joy that is radiated from these kids as you bounce too there songs is overwhelming.
Finally, a 2 hour session at a secondary schools after school club. Although it didn’t have the numbers of the previous session with about 50 participants it gave an ideal opportunity to work with small groups to talk about HIV, lifestyle choices and just an insight into their lives as a whole. Yesterday’s blog spoke about the future of Rwanda, personally I cannot doubt that it can only be positive with the aspirations and work ethic of these children.
One comment was made too me however which really touched me “My teacher said that in Europe, you have the cure for HIV but do not want to give it to Africa”. Myths like this spread hatred and slow down progress, whether this case was simply a misinformed teacher speaking his/her mind or something more sinister is irrelevant. The level of intelligence from this young man named ‘Eric’ was incredible. His dream to become a IT Technician, his desire to put himself in the best position possible to give himself the opportunity for an incredible future and his inquisitive nature about the UK and Europe… it was very clear to me he’ll be a success in life – however you want to measure that, and so will all Rwandan children with that mindset.
Bringing it back to the original quote though, false information like Europe has a cure for HIV could potentially prevent that and the only way this can be eradicated is through education for the young and old, the rich and poor and everything in between.
Anyhow, time for breakfast.