It is amazing how quickly two weeks can pass when you are having fun whilst challenging your emotions and getting out of your comfort zone. Our time in Uganda has finished for the majority – James and Michelle are staying on for a few days, and Graham has taken two weeks unpaid leave to show his girlfriend Tammy the delights of Uganda and Rwanda.
Facts and figures. I do not know how many miles we travelled in our bus or indeed how many hours we sat bouncing around, but I do know that our driver Joseph took very good care of us and did his best not drive into every pothole along the way, but even he could not avoid the speed bumps that are placed every 50 yards through small villages.
Our first stop over was the Lugogo stadium, home of Uganda cricket in Kampala. In order to dust off the cobwebs after an overnight flight, we coached some of the national Under 13 squad. After a quick lunch, it was a four and a half hour drive to Tororo – a town close to the Kenya border. At present, 10 primary schools and 4 secondary schools are playing some cricket. We were all impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of the 26 teachers who turned up for three days to improve their skills by taking the lead coaching 263 school children. Unfortunately the District Education officer had not been informed that we were due to coach on the fourth morning, so it was an early departure to our second centre.
Next stop was Iganga, a forty minute drive from our base in Jinja. 14 teachers from ten different schools, the vast majority experiencing cricket coaching for the first time, turned up, (some on time)! Once again the teachers showed great enthusiasm, if not an understanding of how many children they were asked to bring on the next two days – 365 pupils turned up over the weekend with their teachers.
After a well deserved break at Murchison National Park (funded separately by the volunteers), we moved on to our final centre – Masindi where we tutored 17 teachers. This is an area where a few primary schools are playing but secondary schools will not be starting until the new year when the Uganda Cricket Association are planning to send coaches and equipment. In spite of the relatively poor facilities for cricket, (we coached on a field where the grass was nearly a foot long), we came across some outstanding talent. 135 primary school and 50 secondary school children came with their teachers for coaching. One morning, the local co-ordinator, Christopher, had arranged a tournament for six schools starting at 9am. It got under way at 10.20 with 4 schools participating! Education and mock exams take precedence.
Of course, CWB are not only there to coach cricket. We place great emphasis on linking the game to HIV / AIDS awareness. Using the ABC’s – (abstain, be faithful, condomise), as well as testing, treatment and stigma – the whole team became comfortable delivering the message to both teachers and pupils. It is very satisfying to hear ‘abstain from hitting the air’ coming from the teachers when they are coaching their schools.
We also had a chance to go to the Family Spirit Orphanage in Masindi, and no one will forget the welcome that we received when we arrived with clothes, pens, crayons, colouring books etc. Another challenge to our emotions was the visit to the poorest part of Jinja arranged through Veronique who works for a charity called Street Child Africa to meet a lady who was HIV positive and was barely able to sit the previous day.
The team gelled very well and were an easy bunch to manage. Especially pleasing was the way that the ‘non coaches’ quickly became competent and confident with their new found skills. CWB’s new charity executive, Hannah, experienced first- hand the work of the charity which will help her promote our values and aims whilst Michelle was heard to say that she might actually have to admit that she quite likes cricket!
My thanks go to all of the team for their hard work, humour and fellowship over the last two weeks and to all of you for following us on the blog. Please tell as many people as possible about CWB and direct them to the blog, to the website: www.cricketwithoutboundaries.com, to Twitter and to Facebook. We are looking for volunteers for future projects in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Botswana.