Festival in Kigali

Thursday in Kigali was a day of two halves. As we sat on the bus ready to leave for our first session of the day at GS Kacyiru, we were delayed as the Exam Inspector dropped into the school we were meant to be coaching at so all was on hold. This was hugely frustrating, although on the plus side it did give us time for a second breakfast and a quick game of car park cricket!

As often happens, even when we did get to the school, part way through our games of rapid fire, break-time started so an extra hundred or so children tore straight for us and games had to be abandoned. This is a regular occurrence on CWB trips though so as smooth as clockwork we packed up the equipment (which has a habit of going missing during break-times) and started catching games with all the children to make sure everyone could be involved.

A barbed wire fence and ridiculously steep embankment didn’t deter the children from retrieving tennis balls following wild throws. The power of the tennis ball over here is phenomenal.

So after a slightly stuttering start, we headed off to LIFE, a private international school that CWB have never been to before, and what a treat it was. The children were incredibly polite and engaged and interested in asking us all sorts of questions in perfect English.

The ABCT message of HIV though wasn’t apparent in the students education. It’s always nice to be able to go into a school where these messages aren’t regularly taught and introduce the children to it. Blank faces at the start which by the end of the session turns amazingly into a good understanding of our work.

With this school, because the groups were small, we were able to have good conversations not only about the HIV message but also about other challenges in life that may arise and how they can respond when under pressure in any situation. There were some amazing young people there who we are certain will become the leaders of the future, and it was beautiful to watch them helping their friends, encouraging team spirit and discovering the joys of cricket.

Our last school of the day was EP Kacyiru. 200 smiling and cheeky characters who really enjoyed the games that we ran. As is usual the line of kids waiting to bat somehow grows exponentially and we seemed to spend most of the session identifying the culprits who were using ingenious methods to get an extra chance to bat!

Again, the kids understanding of the ABCT messages wasn’t great but by the wrap-up, wonderfully crafted by Rhino, we could see the messages getting through. And of course, there is nothing better when you are trying to drive away from a school, through the throngs of kids running after the bus, to hear the chants of ‘ABCT awooga’ drifting into the evening air.

Drinks at an event with the British High Commisioner gave us a chance to speak to lots of different people about the work of CWB and to share some of the funny, touching and sometimes faintly ridiculous stories from the project so far.

Friday began with a walk to the old stadium at IPRC to host our final cricket festival of the project. It was 9:30am and we were greeted by Sara who had landed an hour or so earlier from Tanzania and was already netting with four locals!

As the schools began turning up so did Gary, fresh off the plane from London! and the festival got underway in good spirit, a wonderful scene of six games of rapid fire spread around the ground.

Kids all storming round their respective pitches it all came down to two finals, one primary, one secondary. The latter a massive victory for Gahanga 1 by 153 to 88.

We headed off to freshen up before a visit to the Kigali genocide memorial, which was an emotional experience. The memorial is set in beautiful grounds and the exhibits although very sombre are incredibly informative. You cannot but help think about all the lovely people and children we have met over the course of the trip and not relate back to events 23 years ago.

We left in Eddie’s van without a word being spoken all the way home.

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