Day 12

Luke writes…

On our first day in Fort Portal we ran a day of training for around 25 teachers from the local schools.

The group contained a number of people experiencing cricket for the first time as well as several who informed us they had been using the sport as a tool to teach HIV/AIDS awareness ever since a CWB visit in 2011.

Despite an apocalyptic thunder storm over lunch time the day went well, with the teachers proving an enthusiastic and engaging group with a real desire to learn.

On day nine the blog mentioned two inspiring women that we met during our time in Kasese.

That write-up told the story of Grace the teacher at Bulemibia Primary School who is living with HIV.

Today’s diary entry touches on the strength and courage of her colleague Allen Mary who has used cricket as a tool to help her community recover from a devastating natural disaster…


AllenMaryBlogThe public holiday of May 1 2013 was supposed to be a day of family, friends and celebration in the idyllic rural mountain town of Kilembe.

But it turned into a terrifying ordeal with people forced to  flee for their lives in the face of the worst floods in living memory.

A raging torrent of water ripped through the valley destroying more than 100 homes, killing six people and injuring many more.

Bridges, roads and anything else that lay in its wake were simply swept away.

Living in a wooden house alongside the normally peaceful river, Bulembia Primary School teacher Allen Mary’s family home was the first to go – smashed to pieces by a brutal surge of white water, boulders and other debris.

Along with her neighbours – many of them children from her school – she grabbed what few belongings she could carry and headed for higher ground.

The following day the flooding had subsided and Allen Mary (pictured with her son Alex above) returned to her school to find much of it changed beyond recognition. Only 68 of the 600 pupils attended and the staff discovered that one of their colleagues had been killed.

AlexBlogWhat was left of the large playground normally used by the younger children was covered in boulders and rubble (see pic below).

The toilets and washrooms that remained standing were three feet deep in silt.

NGOs quickly moved in to help the community installing temporary toilets and tents to replace the worst hit classrooms but the events of May 1 have left lasting scars on the community. As well as the visible wreckage of buildings left behind, the other dreadful legacy has been the psychological impact on the people who live there – particularly the children.

Allen Mary says the students at Bulembia have been left traumatised. Many have lost their homes, some have lost loved ones and all of them had to live in a state of flux while life slowly returns to normal. She also told me that the pupils’ education has suffered hugely with many struggling to concentrate and maintain the levels of achievement they had managed prior to the flood.

But the children we found on visiting the valley five months on were among the most joyful, bright and enthusiastic you could wish to meet.

And they love their cricket.

To say that the game has healed the community would be an overstatement but led by Allen Mary it has played a small but hugely significant part.

It has put smiles back on faces and brought fun to children that have been through the toughest of times. Throughout the nine schools in the valley cricket has become the game of choice and provided a wonderful escapism

The four days that we spent with them will live long in the memory and one again showcases the power of sport – and the work of Cricket Without Boundaries – at its best.

The charity’s use of cricket as a tool to educate on HIV/AIDS remains its most important mission but as proved in Kilembe, there are many other ways that it is making a positive difference.