by Adrian, Jon and Thom
We woke up to a beautiful morning on our first full day back in Kigali. Rwanda truly is a land of a thousand mountains!
The naive amongst us assumed that the four schools scheduled for the day would be in and around the city? Never assume anything in Rwanda! The first school, Rugiseri, was a ninety minute drive away! It was a scenic drive, entertained as always with the teams wit, humour and Lee’s searchingly inane questions! The drive was worth it, however with a primary school of over 130 children, including a nursery section (“I am catching”) who were extremely focused and who enjoyed the cricket coaching and ABCT messages.
After leaving on a high we were quickly forced into adaptability mode when the district education administrator decided, upon arrival at our next stop, that we would not be permitted to set foot in the next two schools!
With fleet of foot we quickly arranged to visit two other schools back in Kigali, where we could coach and give the lifestyle and health messaging.
These schools, Kicukiro and Gahanga 1, proved to be both receptive and challenging to us and with great commitment and energy the team finished a potentially frustrating day on a high by being cheered out of our last school, with the students clearly understanding our message!
Our second day in the capital began with a charming visit to Ecole St Agnes, a primary school with a long narrow flat area. 100 children, skill stations and four adjacent games of rapid fire cricket later with consistent ABCTs our 2 hours just flew by.
Our second stop at SOS was severely rain affected and the 15 minutes we were allocated by the teacher turned unit 40 minutes of ad hoc, largely unstructured groupings catching high hit balls!
It must be noted that at before our final stop of the day the team managed to find Kigali’s newest and best pizza and fried chicken outlet for lunch.
The final stop, and one which has become a firm favourite of CWB and the volunteers who visit was to the MEG Foundation. Superbly trained by Tall Eric over the past year the skills development and HIV/AIDS awareness here is positively unrecognisable from our first visit in 2016.
Wednesday, and we find ourselves in Bugesera, 20 minutes outside of Kigali, and after lively negotiation with the principlal(s) at Nyamata two contrasting games got underway with a large group of sophisticated secondary students.
One game was highly competitive and required the umpiring abilities of our own Dickie Bird to settle the result. The other, a bit more relaxed, needed a good kick up to get moving. Everything came together with a great wrap-up where the students own concise and thoughtful messages on HIV and health were simply read out.
I (Jon) have to admit to being slightly skeptical that quite conceptual messages could effectively be delivered in a cricketing context – but now I’m certain that they can.
When the students already have some familiarity with the messages, then reminding them in a fun context clearly re-enforces; and when the familiarity is not there then the introduction prepares the ground for later work.
Anyway, a dust storm and an enormous threatening black cloud welcomed us to GS Ngoma and as we set up it seemed certain that all we would get was wet and dirty.
But yet again this inspirational team pushed on and were rewarded by the storm doing a last minute body-swerve to avoid us.
We were given 60 children which rapidly became 200 and a good solid round of constructive mayhem kicked off, finishing with more sensitive hammering home of the healthy living HIV awareness messages.
By the time got to GS Ntarama we were joined by fellow volunteers from Coutts Bank who gamely joined in helping to coach several hundred primary and secondary school students.
Our days in Kigali are usually rounded off, after dinner, with motorbike taxi returns to base, preferably when they get the destination wrong so you get another ride – but never for more than a quid!