Team Leader’s summary


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.

Mike Reeves

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 14 – Last day in Uganda

By Veronique

After a night of garlic vapour emission for some of us, we started our long journey to Kampala at 8am. Unlike Richard’s ‘flying coach’, we departed on time but Joseph is adamant his bus is not equipped to do the journey in 2 ½ hours but most realistically in 4 ½ – 5 hours.

I can’t believe it is already the end of our trip. The two weeks have gone so quickly. I have completely fallen in love with Uganda, the country and its people and I shall be back. On our long bus journeys, I have tried to absorb and store in my memory the scenery, the colours, the smells… all that makes Uganda so special.

Uganda has been full of surprises – I didn’t expect to see pine ‘forest’ and rice plantations. The scenery has been varied from Tororo to Jinja, Kampala and Masindi, making our long hours on the road more enjoyable. But wherever we have been the people have been extremely friendly and welcoming. I think we’ve all had a great time and a big thank you goes to Mike for this. He has led a very successful trip, with no major hiccups which can so often happen when arranging things from the UK. The team bonded very well and everybody pulled their weight without exception. So no eviction at the Big Brother Uganda House!!!

And the awards go to:

Best comment from a child (to James): “How did you get so fat, you look like a Jack fruit”.

Best fish: at the Rock View Hotel (only the first day)

Best bed: at the Rock View Hotel (Alan’s room) round bed with square sheets

Best suggestion for corporal punishment: “If you do this again, I will take you to the head master, he’ll tie you to a tree and hit you with a stick until your head burst”

Best lion spotter: No. 1 Joseph (nearly ran over it and then got out of the bus to check it was still alive), No. 2 Hannah

Best sign writing: “Descent Accommodation”

Best complaint: “I am not paying for 22 Waragis” (Michelle questioning our bar bill in Masindi)

Best party trick: James encompassing a pint glass (with his mouth)

Best attempt to save Uganda’s economy: Alan queried the bill thinking it was too little, it came back further reduced

Best video interview: James doing video blog while the rest of the team mooned and flashed (Graham in tears and in serious need of a tripod, take 42)

Best international snack: Europe type cakes in inflatable bags

Best shorts: Michelle’s pink ones

Best view: Paraa Lodge – the close up view of the crocodile opening its mouth

Best shower: Masindi Hotel, hot water at last!

Best menu description: Beef burger made with the aroma of the Chef’s desk

Best shop name: “God is able hardware”, “The divine hand cosmetic salon”, “Trust in Jesus Electrician”, “Mama’s love furnishers store”, “Brilliant high school”, “Jesus care properties brokers”

Best school motto: “We struggle for excellence”!!

Best PE kit: St Edwards Primary School in Masindi (colourful ra-ra skirts)

Best napkin folding: No. 1 Veronique’s ironed shirt, No. 2 Graham’s snot rag

Best welcome: Masindi Family Spirit orphanage – children hanging of our arms and singing lots of welcoming songs to us OR Joseph to James “Hello James you’re the same size as me!”

Worst behaved children: the children on the boat scaring off the wildlife and throwing litter into the Nile.

Worst toilet: No.1 a corner in a courtyard overlooked by two men where we were asked to urinate because the actual toilet was too dirty. No. 2 the toilet at the discotheque with a big hole in the floor and a generator creating 150C.

Worst road: the main road in Tororo, a.k.a pot hole alley

Worst noise to be woken up with: Joseph’s bus reversing with accompanying beeping

Worst dish: Chicken curry “Can you tell me what meat is in the chicken curry? Sorry I don’t know”

Worst massala chips: James’ chips tossed with tomato ketchup

Worst excuse for a hangover: Yusuf’s alleged malaria

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Day 14 – Last day in Uganda

Day 13 – Last full day of Coaching in Masindi

By James

The final day of coaching in Masindi began with the team saying farewell to our tutor Richard who was flying home today. Before leaving, Richard presented each of the self-named NCG (non-coaching group!!) of Michelle, Hannah and Graham with coaching certificates for all their hard work and enthusiasm along with the huge improvement they have made in their coaching skills – all are now talking about going on UKCC 1 cricket coaching courses when they get home.

The morning’s activity was to help run a tournament for the local Primary schools, we were expecting a boys team and a girls team from six schools but true to form only four schools appeared (all at different times of course!!), play finally got underway at about 10:15. It was pleasing to see that the skills coaching of the previous day had been worthwhile as the standard of play was very high. Our team was divided up and we were each assigned to a pitch so four games could be run at a time. I was joined on the field by Graham to umpire while Michelle organised the batting teams and acted as head cheerleader! The boys were all soon singing and dancing the umpires signals with every four or six that was hit. After playing two games of kwik cricket, the players were all presented with CWB “Bowling AIDS out of Uganda” wristbands while the two girls and two boys were presented with caps for outstanding performances during the morning.

After a successful morning the team jumped onto Joseph’s bus and we drove into town to find our favourite chapatti stall, before returning to the hotel to eat them. There was just about enough time for me to play two frames of pool against our driver Joseph (my Ugandan brother!) honours even as we won a frame each.

With Richard gone, Michael asked me if I would organise the afternoon session, the boys and girls from Masindi Senior Secondary School arrived on time (by Ugandan standards!) and Alan and Graham took them off to do some skills coaching that we had been unable to fit in yesterday because of all the rain interruptions. Two more schools arrived shortly after, Mike and Veronika teamed up to coach one school and Veronique and Hannah took the other. This left Michelle and I waiting for the final school to arrive…… In the meantime we decided to do a bit of coaching with two boys who were sat watching their school friends in Alan and Graham’s group but were hesitant to join in. The final school never arrived but encouraging the two boys to play and seeing the smiles on their faces as they improved made the afternoon a very rewarding afternoon for me. Again presentations were made as each of the schools were given a set of cricket equipment. I am sure they will be put to good use.

We returned once more to the hotel and very fittingly took tea and biscuits in the colonial style drawing room, watching as the rain falling outside. Thoughts turned to returning to England, but also reflecting on what has been an amazing two weeks in a wonderful country. Tomorrow we travel to Entebbe via a trip to the UCA in Kampala. I’m sure it will be another emotional day with the prospect of saying goodbye to our fantastic team. It has been a pleasure to share such an amazing experience with you all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Day 13 – Last full day of Coaching in Masindi

Day 12 – Coaching in Masindi

By Veronika

The morning came early. Too early for some of us who couldn’t sleep due to the assault on the senses that was our visit to the local watering holes and a dancing establishment.

After a quick breakfast we got our tired selves on the bus. Just before the playing field the three representatives of the HIV/AIDS group (Mike, Veronique and I) jumped off the bus and headed to the local branch of TASO (The Aids Support Organisation). TASO in Masindi work just of the main road on a site complete with a testing centre and a counselling village. One of the doctors, Dr. Sarah, found some time for us and we had a good chat about any possible cooperation in the future.

While the HIV/AIDS group visited, the rest of our mighty crew got stuck in with the primary school children brought by our yesterday’s teachers. There were over a hundred of children and when the team was reunited, everybody looked happy but tired. The heat we can cope with. The humidity was less so.

We finally experienced some proper local food in our last night’s joint. Mike had ordered our lunch – a selection of matoke, posho, fresh fish, goat and beef. A slight complication because all serving dishes were taken away from the restaurant to be hired out to a function and for fifteen minutes we just couldn’t understand each other with the staff. However, when the food arrived, we forgot all that arguing and with astonishment watched Yusuf piling mountains of food on his plate. That boy has got hollow legs. He also has a great talent for imitations – from animal noises to children begging for pens and t-shirts.

Afternoon coaching was supposed to start at 2pm but at 2.30pm we still had no secondary school children. By that time Isaac from the Family Spirit orphanage arrived and whisked Mike and me out for a shopping trip. Our local paper News & Views donated £100, Alan added £25 that he was given by John Lowland and Mike and I contributed £70. All this money went towards important things for the orphanage – rice, school exercise books, pens, bed covers, toothpaste, plasters, gloves, Calpol and other necessities. Amazingly enough Isaac suggested buying a few plastic chairs that could be used by the children and also could be hired out for private functions and so would bring some revenue to the orphanage.

The shopping adventure was interrupted by some very heavy rain and because we had the bus, we rushed back to the ground to rescue the team from an unscheduled shower. Another load of rain finished the coaching just before 4pm.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Richard, who is leaving early. His bus is supposed to make it to Kampala in 2,5 hrs!! He will be truly flying, as it will take us about 4 hrs…

NEWS ARTICLE OF THE DAY

‘Local police move to reduce the road carnage. In the last few weeks the police acquired a fleet of ambulances, so that the victims can be taken to hospital faster. The ambulances will be equipped with a health kit.’

That much for all of those, who are in favour of traffic calming measures. All we need are more vans with First Aid kit in them.

CZECH

Dneska jsme nakupovali pro sirotcinec, meli jsme nejake penize, prispevky od znamych. Nakoupili jsme ryzi, povleceni, sesity, tuzky, leky, naplasti, gumove rukavice (vetsina deti v sirotcinci jsou HIV pozitivni), prasky na odcerveni deti, zubni pastu. Taky jsme koupili 30 plastovych zidli, ktere budou pro deti a kdyz bude potreba, sirotcinec je muze pronajmout a tak vydelat nejake penize.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Day 12 – Coaching in Masindi

Day 11 – Masindi & the Family Spirit Orphanage

By Michelle

Breakfast seems to be the only let down of our new hotel, lack of choice but good food, so mustn’t grumble. Graham liberated a bunch of bananas from breakfast, so we could eat them at lunch. We have 4 poster beds with nets around, it’s all a bit Arabian nights! We made our way to the Masindi Municipal Offices, after having driven onto what looked like the playing field we expected to be coaching on, just to be told that we would be coaching on the field we had just left! Unpacked the bus with our kit and waited for the primary school teachers to arrive, Hannah, Yusef and I made our way to town to buy lunch and sort out some money. We came back to 10 teachers being coached. The morning session went well, Hannah and Graham set up a game with around 20 local children who turned up, whilst I played catch with 5 little ones. We went back to the hotel for lunch, as it was a 2 minute commute away from the coaching field!

The afternoon was to be spent coaching the secondary teachers, the first turned up just after 2, alone, Rich started coaching him, whilst Graham, Yusef and I waited for more to turn up (the rest of our team had gone to town, as we were only expecting 4-8 teachers this afternoon). Graham coached me with some more bowling, I was getting the ball on target, so Graham suggested I tried a run up to bowl…this is where it all went a bit pear shaped, I will get there one day! Eventually another teacher arrived so Graham took him off to start coaching. 2 teachers arrived in shirts and ties, they thought they were going to a meeting so insisted on going back to change into other clothes. They arrived back about an hour later, one of them not having changed his clothes! Hannah also had a bit of coaching from Rich and James today, the NCG (Non Coaching Group) will be no longer at this rate! We had 5 teachers this afternoon, lots of attention for each with the 10 of us coaching…2 more teachers arrived at 3:45, 15 minutes before the session was due to finish, Ugandan timing is great fun!

We were going to the Family Spirit Orphanage this afternoon. We were on our way there when Hannah realised she had lost her bag, with passport, money, phone etc in. PANIC! Everyone searched the bus for it, no success, back to the hotel to look for it, not there. Making our way back to the school where Hannah had been to visit, when Mike “found” the bag inside his, suspicious! Panic over, back on track to visiting the orphanage. When we arrived, Joseph couldn’t get much passed the entrance because of all the children running towards us, reaching through the windows to shake our hands to say hello. Getting out of the bus was also a challenge, as every child wanted to be holding our hands, arms or touching our legs! It was completely overwhelming but they all were so excited and lively that we didn’t have time to think about the situations they had found themselves in. We found ourselves with 4 or 5 children attached to each of us as we walked over to watch the cricket match that was going on out front, Yusef joined in, whilst coaching the girl batting with him.

So many smiling faces around us. One girl, Whitney, took Yusef and I on a tour around the orphanage. They have pigs, chickens, rabbits and vegetable gardens, it was now that we found out that Yusef fears pigs! Whitney was a very good guide around the orphanage, explaining that they are having a new block built for the girls to sleep in as at the moment they are cramped in the existing building. The children here are sharing beds, sometimes 3 or 4 to a bunk in the 3 tiered bunks, there are few mosquito nets to protect them from being bitten and the bedding is not in great condition. Mike had explained that we had a certain amount of money that had been donated to spend on the orphanage, it was decided that the money would be spent to buy mosquito nets and rice, both much needed items for the children. We have since been informed that mosquito nets for these 3 tiered beds are unavailable, so we will buy plastic chairs instead, the orphanage can then hire them out and raise money from this.

We all sat at school desks outside the front of the buildings, whilst a large group of the children marched to stand in front of us, to sing. They sang many songs to us, dancing as they sang about Jesus, God, love and being orphans. We had been joined by a number of the smaller children on the seats, some sitting on our laps singing along to the songs being sung. Two girls sitting with Rich and I were excited to be allowed to wear our CWB hats during the entertainment. The boys that were hanging onto James’ arms have re-named him Jack, as one had commented that James was as fat as a large Jack Fruit, a comment that the rest of the team found hilarious! James is now known as Jack within our team! The suitcases full of clothes, pencils, pens, balloons etc were moved from the bus to the orphanage office, these seemed to be gratefully received. The balloons were handed out by Whitney, as she attempted to organise the smaller children into class lines, there was far too much excitement around the balloons!

Whilst the children were distracted with the balloons, we made our way to the bus to leave. It was a visit that none of us will forget. It was a difficult but interesting experience to spend some time with these orphaned children, many of whom were so desperate for our attention throughout our time there. It is difficult not to bring our own Western values and experiences to a situation like this, but it is important to accept that we are visiting a very different culture and they have their way of doing things and we have ours. I am not convinced that our way is in any way better or more effective than here and am sure to think about this trip when I am back at work in a few days time.

We arrived back at the hotel to discover that the electric was still not back on, they seem to have numerous power cuts throughout the day and night at our hotel. Quick shower and change and off to the restaurant for dinner. Food was lovely again and enjoyed by all. All of us, other than Alan, made our way into Masindi for a pub crawl…Mike and Jack taking boda-bodas (taxi bikes) not realising that the rest of us decided to walk! We met them at the first pub in town, drinking black Smirnoff Ice, wondering where we had been! After a drink here we moved to the next pub, just to leave again because there did not seem to be any room, crossing the road we went to the pub opposite for a drink. A lot of laughter was to be heard from the group of Muzungu in this pub, as a rather drunken local had joined us to tell us about his father called David. Using Yusef to translate, Hannah tried to explain that she has a brother called David, but the man would not accept that there was anyone else in the world called David, as this was his father and his father has a diploma in education, it was an interesting conversation! Veronika and I asked to use the toilet, we were led out the back across a back yard, by mobile phone light and asked if it was to urinate, we confirmed this. The lady pointed to a corner of the yard saying that we could urinate here as the toilets were very dirty, we decided to pass on this option!

We made our way back over the road to the second pub, to discover that out the back was a dance floor and pool table. We all made our way to the dance floor and enjoyed a few hours of cricket related dance moves/shapes to the very Westernised R&B music! Yusef was throwing some seriously cool moves, to be kept up with by Jack! It was a fun night to say the least, to be followed by a very amusing walk home, involving impressions and Veronique almost falling down a hole…it was lucky that Yusef was there to save her. Back at the hotel just after midnight for a few hours sleep before more coaching tomorrow. Tomorrow is my nephew’s second Birthday…hope you have a brilliant day Sam, I will come and see you with a big Birthday hug and presents for you and Isabel from my adventure when I get back xx

PS: Yusuf’s brother is stable and on the mend so great news there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Day 11 – Masindi & the Family Spirit Orphanage

Day 10 – Murchison Falls National Park, the team on Safari

By Hannah

Hello everyone greetings from Murchison Falls National Park. A special hello to Matt, Phoebe and Owen. Today we went on Safari and it is my pleasure to guide you through the best wildlife that Uganda has to offer. Veronique and I awoke (on time) and were greeted by the Batman aka Mike who heroically guided us through the frenzy of bats that were hovering outside.

We boarded the bus and were soon on our way skilfully guided by Simon who assured us we would see many animals but he couldn’t promise the cats. As we drove away from the Paraa lodge the landscape changed dramatically moving from Rainforest to Savannah grassland. In fact there are four distinct types of habitat in the park, Rainforest, Savannah Grassland, wetlands and some other place I can’t remember but it has palm trees and the elephants eat there (apologies to Louise and Andy).

Within minutes of beginning the drive we saw Hart Beast, Water Bucks and Cobs which along with the Crested Crane are the National Emblem of Uganda. It was incredible to see these beautiful animals up close. As we drove along the sun started to come up exactly on time as predicted by James who is totally at one with nature, even asking our bemused guide what the chances of seeing a polar bear were.

The next sight we beheld was a herd of buffalo, these magnificent beasts live in big herds with exception of the ones known as the Losers who have been cast adrift by the group with three options for the future 1) To be eaten by Lions, 2)being shot by poachers each one of us hoped such a fate does not befall us!!

Michelle took an amazing array of spectacular photographs, she does however seem to have an obsession with their backsides and on several occasions made Joseph back the bus up to ensure she got the perfect shot.

At this point I discovered an unhealthy obsession with warthogs firstly mistaking one for a lion, and then quizzing Simon on exactly how many species there were as they all looked different only to be told they were just different sexes and sizes.

As I| glanced out of the window I saw a large animal paw print on the road, Simon came to investigate and said it was a Leopard print. We were quite excited by this as we surmised that this was probably going to be closest we would come to a big cat. How wrong we were as we rounded the next corner Simon became very animated and shouted that there was a lion asleep on the road ahead.

What a glorious sight it was. A beautiful pregnant lioness stretched out on the road who was completely unphased by the clanks and creaks of Joseph’s bus. As we all vied for the title of amateur photographer of the year we noticed that Joseph was no longer on the bus. It is now apparent that Joseph fancies himself as a bit of a lion tamer. He had spied a second lion asleep under a bush and had gone to have a closer look. Simon did not seem overly bothered by Joseph’s absence and when Joseph returned to the bus he announced with a grin that the one under the bush was a “Big One”.

Next up on the animal viewing list were giraffes, monkeys, crested cranes, fish eagles the list of beautiful species all observed in their natural environment was quite incredible.

We returned to the hotel for breakfast, a swim, a sleep and lunch before boarding a boat for our second safari of the day which would take us down to the spectacular Murchison Falls. So far on the trip we have discovered that Yusuf has a fear of cats, water and pigs. We soon discovered that Crocodiles were another thing on this list, and unfortunately for Yusuf, there were very many to be seen along the banks of the Albert Nile and the skipper of the boat wanted us to get the best view even backing the boat up to the mouth of one. We also discovered that Graham, one of the more reserved members of the group is extremely allergic to small, loud and badly behaved children who are on boat trips. This affliction presents itself with an uncontrollable urge to throw said children overboard. Fortunately Michelle, our team Social Worker, was on hand to help Graham through this difficult time.

The sight of the Murchison Falls was quite simply magnificent.

As we made our way back to shore the hippos surrounded us on both sides diving and lolloping around. One particularly acrobatic one treated us to a display of synchronised swimming the like of which none of us had ever witnessed before.

We made our way back to Masindi and arrived at the Masindi Hotel where Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart reportedly stayed during the making of African Queen. The Hotel is really beautiful and the service excellent.

Unfortunately there was some bad news for another member of the team this evening, Yusuf’s brother was injured in a road accident in Kampala. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Day 10 – Murchison Falls National Park, the team on Safari

Day 9 – Travel to Masindi/Murchinson Falls

By Graham

Today we left Jinja at 7am and headed north towards our next coaching destination Masindi but first we had a scheduled day excursion to Murchinson Falls National Park (paid for by the volunteers, not the charity!).

The journey took us via Kampala and we witnessed some heavy traffic (not helped by the ever useless traffic police) on the edge of the city plus some immense pollution which left a heavy haze over the slums that surround the city. The slums are built on wetlands and are often destroyed when the floods come and this unfortunately results in loss of life.

Once again we were greeted on our journey by some great signs. This time they included the Brilliant High School, God is Able Scrap Metal, Jesus Cares Property Broker and my personal favourite Descent Accommodation. We also saw 2 good newspaper stories with CWB being mentioned after our work in Iganga and a crazy headline after Uganda’s defeat in the football (see photos).

We arrived in Masindi after 6 hours on the bus and had a quick stop before we started the final 2 hours to hotel in Murchinson Falls. The 78km journey along a single dirt track road was pretty special. The scenery was still as green as we have seen all over Uganda but we saw pine trees and other trees and plants we hadn’t yet come across. We then saw warthogs, thousands of butterflies, huge birds and baboons! We tried to encourage our driver Joseph to slow down so we could take photos but he was very nervous about the potential highjacking by the evil baboons!

We finally arrived at the Paraa Lodge after 8 hours of travelling and after greasing the palm of the ferry man (3pm ferry to the hotel conveniently cancelled just as we arrived). Across the river were 2 herds of African elephants and hippos to welcome us.

The hotel is very luxurious and the views over the Nile are amazing. We had a well deserved relaxing afternoon by the pool and took the chance to recharge some batteries after many early mornings and some very long and hot coaching days. After a swim we enjoyed some tea and cake and Rich easily polished off 3 (or 4 but who’s counting?) cakes.

Dinner was one of the best meals we have had so far with a buffet with plenty of good options for everyone. Most of the team went for 3 courses making up for 3 days without any lunch!

Early start tomorrow for the game drive and boat trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 8

By Alan.

Finally persuaded to put digit to keyboard. It’s our last full day at Jinja, at the nessun dorma Paradise on the Nile. Those who managed to sleep were awakened to heavy rain, which ultimately stopped play, or even travel to the ground until late morning.

It’s Uganda Independence day today, when those nasty British finally said there was nothing more to extract from the country (49 years ago). There seems little real celebration of this, although late morning we did see a combined march which could have been in commemoration, or simply on their way to church. Perhaps our presence here is putting something back – I do hope so.

Rain stopped about mid morning and we made our way the 45 minutes or so to the 3 schools we were to work with. The group split, and all worked for about 3 hours with the newly trained teachers. Again, lots of happy children. Those who know me will recognise the Pied Piper who appears once a group of children come together. All of this group of us here together have the same effect.

Personal perceptions of this country are quite different from those which I anticipated. Everywhere is exceptionally fertile, and we have yet to find the middle class or wealthy. There are poor, and some of the sights which we have been privileged to see have been humbling. However, the children we deal with, although clearly poor, are polite, very clean, and without exception incredibly keen to learn.

Having returned to our “haven” (honest Jane it’s not that bad!) we all went off in the evening to the “Source of the Nile”, about 20 minutes away, and a boat ride into the lake and the start of the river. This proved to be an outdoor aviary, with far too many birds spotted to name or remember. Yet another assault on our senses.

Half way in on our mission as I write in the evening. As a group we work well and have no prima donnas (I hope the others will agree). I am humbled in not having the words to describe or remember all that we have seen so far, and, although we still have a long week ahead of us, am delighted to have selected for Uganda, and would heartily recommend anyone thinking of such a venture to plump for this fascinating country. Just remember to bring your own earplugs if you want to sleep in Jinja.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 7 – The split team

By Mike

After a lot of organising and excitement, three of our team, Hannah, Graham and Yusuf, left Jinja for Kampala to watch the African Cup qualifying football match between Uganda and Kenya.

In the meantime, the rest of us were split even further to coach at two venues in Iganga. Michelle, Mike, James and Alan stayed at our old haunt and waited for the promised 90 pupils from three schools. Richard, Veronika and Veronique went further into town to Iganga Town Council primary school to meet their promised 60 children from two schools.

So that was plan ‘A’, but this is Africa. Plan ‘B’ was quickly introduced which involved the first group coaching 138 children and the tutor led second group having 31 (including our driver Joseph). Fortunately Michelle is becoming more and more confident and was able to take on a team of 23 to practice their skills. At lunchtime, Richard and the two V’s were told to relocate to another town school where another 31 children awaited them. The difference in ability and language could not have been bigger.

So how is the team doing after the first completed week? I have now worked with Richard in Uganda three times, so when he puts a cutlery basket and napkin on his head to look like Tommy Cooper, I am neither worried for his sanity nor unduly surprised. Veronika, aka the Water Goddess is still forcing liquid down us in alarming quantities but sharing bottles of red wine from Veronique. Graham is enjoying more food choice away from Tororo. We had resorted to ordering our dinner at breakfast time to allow the chef time to get in supplies, but the shortage of minced beef was still a problem except for lumps of it in the vegetarian samosas. On the first night there, I asked the waitress what the meat was in the chicken curry, but she was unable to enlighten me. James and Michelle are also enjoying the delights of Jinja. As they have got to know the team better, James is entertaining us with his impressions and Michelle comes out with amusing insights. Hopefully this double act will be seen back in the UK performing at children’s’ parties. Alan’s accounting system for the team’s money has relaxed in recent days to the extent that he is now happier to spend our contributions on luxuries such as food and water. Hannah is gaining invaluable experience of a CWB project. Her front foot drive off a cone is a work of art – not sure what would happen if the ball was not stationary though. Veronique is still queen of the pull, (shot that is). Overall they are a pretty easy lot to manage.

So our first week is over. We are looking forward to more challenges (including trying to find internet access in Masindi – a town well known for power shortages) in the week ahead.

Part Two – We Go, We Go, Ugandan Cranes we go. By Hannah

A once in a life time opportunity to watch Uganda V Kenya in the African cup of nation’s qualifier presented itself whilst we were here. Uganda has not qualified for the AFCON since 1978 and a win against their neighbours would secure it. With the support of the others (for which we are truly grateful) Yusuf, Graham and I got tickets and shirts and were excited about what awaited us. The 8.30 leave we had arranged the night before suddenly became a 7.30 leave at 7.05 when Graham knocked on the door to say we were leaving!! The mini taxi ride into Kampala was a real eye-opener. The taxi doesn’t leave until it is full and we picked up a variety of people and vegetables!! The journey took around two hours and we arrived at the ground around 10.00.

The atmosphere was already building with the yellow, red and black of Uganda everywhere. After queuing for a short time the ever resourceful Yusuf found a man who, for the princely sum of 2,000 shilling each (50p), could get us in via a short cut. We entered the stadium around half ten a grand 6 and a half hours before kickoff and so the wait began. Now you might think that we were a little keen to be there so long before kickoff but it soon became apparent that we were the wise ones. The Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Nambole officially holds 45,000 people but there were an estimated 70,000 tickets sold and everyone was determined to get inside.

As the hours passed the stadium became more and more full and it soon became apparent that we were not going anywhere including to the toilet, it’s a good job we all have strong bladders!! The atmosphere built and built and the excitement was at fever pitch. The noise from the crowd and their accompanying vuvuzelas was, quite literally deafening.

Eventually the game began, only to end with bitter disappointment for the Ugandan Cranes who despite being by far the better team, failed to score the vital goal. The disappointment was tangible and, being a long suffering West Bromwich Albion fan, I felt their pain!!

After enjoying the delights of street food, chapatti and samosas both excellent we found a mini taxi to take us back to Jinja. Having experienced the best thrill rides Florida has to offer this ride home rates as number one.

We arrived back in Jinja at 9 and were thrilled at the prospect of an early night. Graham assured me he knew the way home so I was a little surprised to find that the ten minute walk back to the hotel took half an hour, still his friends will confirm he has previous in this area!!

Today has been an experience I will never forget and one I am unlikely to repeat, unless of course I ever want to become permanently deaf.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 6 – Iganga

By Michelle

After such an emotionally draining day yesterday, we were back to coaching today. Yesterday had reminded us of why we were here and the importance of helping to spread the awareness of HIV/AIDS through our cricket coaching and spurred us on with our work. Plan A consisted of going to Inganga Boys Boarding School, Yusef’s school during his primary years. This is not where we were going to be coaching, so it was a quick stop here before travelling onto the next school. Plan B….. Joseph parked up the bus and we unloaded the kit onto a surprisingly flat field just outside the school. Plan C…we were asked to use another field around the back of the school, so not to distract the classes from their work. We loaded the bus back up and moved onto the next field, which was slightly less flat!

After Joseph skilfully manoeuvring through a very narrow, some might consider un-driveable path due to the dangerous looking pot holes, we parked up and unloaded the kit, again. We were expecting to be coaching the teachers today, followed by two days of coaching the children…here Plan D was needed as we were told that the teachers had turned up yesterday for their coaching and children were expected today! The teachers were also coming back today for their session…nothing runs smoothly here in Uganda but it keeps us on our toes!

Veronika and I volunteered to do the lunch run, so we went off with Joseph on the bus to find a supermarket to buy food and water for the day. After passing at least 3 supermarkets, Veronika having shouted to Joseph that they were there, she was told to be quiet and he carried on driving! Slightly concerned that we were being kidnapped, we finally stopped at a supermarket and got the lunch and water for the day. We were ready in time for 40(ish) boys from Inganga Boys Boarding School to turn up for the morning session, along with 12 teachers.

After having to put our first four plans into action, the morning went well. Considering how terrified I was about coming on this adventure…particularly due to my complete lack of cricketing skills, I seem to be doing ok. Today I was able to coach/demonstrate the high catch to the children and took a third of the group to support them with their front foot drives and pull shots! The boys demonstrated some brilliant cricket skills and seemed to enjoy the morning. I am still fighting against admitting that I like cricket but am sure that day will come very soon!

The afternoon consisted of a tournament the boys were as competitive as the children in Tororo and displayed some fine cricket skills…clearly thanks to their amazing coaches! The boys ended the day by singing us their school song, which always pulls at the heart strings of our group!

As far as safeguarding is concerned, here in Uganda communities run on trust and care for each other and each other’s children. Children as young as 1 or 2 can be seen wandering around the streets and green areas without adult supervision, they are perfectly happy playing with stones and other such objects, with the other children around them. The children here in Uganda have so little but they are happy, I have yet to see an unhappy child.

We travelled back to the hotel, had 25 minutes to shower, change and be ready to visit the Bujagali Falls. The views were amazing, well worth the wait, with the powerful water lashing through the falls, whilst African men played music and danced on the edge of the water. Yusef impressed us by busting some moves along to the music!

Straight onto dinner, from the falls we went to Mezzanine, tapas restaurant and pizzeria, located on the edge of the Nile. The food was amazing, all enjoyed their mains…followed by another, due to the size of the first! I did not enjoy using the toilet along with two Geckos running around the enclosed space…small screams could be heard by those within a 5 mile radius! After dinner, we went to the water’s edge…it was beautiful; so many different animal sounds could be heard (James slightly nervous by the sound of frogs)! Along with the magical sight of the fire flies moving around everywhere you looked. Veronika discovered by walking out onto a small ledge and crouching down, the sound changed and was intensified, so Veronique and I joined her, the three of us crouching down listening to the sounds of exotic animals and watching the fire flies right by our feet, out of this world (Isabel and Lucy would’ve thought they were surrounded by fairies)! James, Mike and Alan went next…when a splash in the water was heard; James and Alan could be seen sprinting back up the ledge in fear of a crocodile, to the hysteria of the rest of us, who had seen Rich throw a stone into the water!! It was another good day enjoyed by all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments