When I signed up as a first time CWB volunteer and was offered the opportunity to join the Uganda project, it was with a hope that the trip would be rewarding, challenging and enjoyable. What I didn’t expect was to have experienced all three of the above within the first 2 days of the adventure!
Here’s my reflections from day 2 in Kabale
Tuesday saw the group split into two teams to visit four primary schools across the day, with my team comprising Coach Bill, Bob and Lionel led by SJ.
After a period of friendly “negotiation” on arrival, SJ was able to emphasise the important CWB equality and cricket for all messages to the headteacher and the school finally delivered approx. 70 boys and girls to take part – rather than the “elite boys” group they had handpicked.
The fields were a lot drier than yesterday’s swamps, but the knee-high grass and scattered cow pats still required some improvisation when setting up the practise stations. I was on the bowling station and although a keen cricket enthusiast I’m not a qualified coach, so the session set up, running and related clear consistent health/equality messages that CWB champion keep your brain working overtime as I attempted to pull it all together. Whilst far from perfect in my early delivery the knowledge and tips from the training weekend + learning and listening to experienced members of the group stand you in good stead. When you do lose track, a simple high five, silly song or dance puts a smile on the children’s faces as you try to regroup!
From a cricketing perspective the rapid uptake and improvement of the children’s skills during just one bowling session is impressive. During our afternoon at Kabale Prep School the children listened and followed demos and went from throwing to bowling within the space of a short 20-minute session. To see their smiling faces when you praise and encourage gives you a lift when you need it, as they genuinely seem to enjoy and respond to the visits.
When the children engage with the cricket and respond to the health message it gives you the hope that you, via the project, can make a difference.
I’ve now given up on being a global pop idol, but I got a taste of what it must be like on arrival at the school this afternoon, screaming children leaning out of classroom windows, running alongside the CWB bus and desperate for a high five or a fist bump. The teachers were also hospitable and proud to show us the CWB Uganda 2017 banner in pride of place in the lunch hall. It’s always nice when people are pleased to see you, and the least you can do is deliver the session with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible!
An unexpected bonus today was a visit to the local Lake Bunyoni for dinner following the afternoon session after a chance meeting and tip off to Chris from an ex pat missionary in the café at lunch. Wonderful views of the lush landscape overlooking the lake and fresh tilapia fish was a perfect end to a busy day.
A slightly thrilling ride home in the bus made some team members a bit nervous and tested Ciaran’s already delicate tummy!
We look forward to what day 3 brings………