The Rains Down In Africa

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and this morning’s chorus consisted of an array of exotic birds, dogs howling, the buzz of a boda-boda in the distance and the singing voices preparing for the Easter celebrations in a church across the valley. After a hearty breakfast courtesy of Ineke and co at Rwenzori View it was time to hit the road.

The team divided to coach 2 schools – Bill, Bob, Lionel, Manny and I headed to Kyabambe Primary School. When I went to introduce ourselves to the head teacher I saw a lot of very ‘girl-focussed’ messaging. I asked the head about this and he told us that for the first time ever there were more girls than boys at his school. He was unsure why this trend had happened but that there had been increasing numbers of girls over the past 3 years at his school. In the main office there was a chart on the wall ‘Action Plan For Improving Menstrual Hygiene Management’ I was impressed and heartened to see the direct and dynamic approach towards this issue, which, as a woman and a mother, is of real importance to me.

The cricket session ran well – we ran 4 stations – each with a focus on an ABCT message and concluded with a great game of rapid fire. I was able to spend time chatting with children and collecting valuable M&E feedback.

The children were clearly aware of the messaging and were able to talk about a range of ways to prevent HIV….. they had some pretty good cricket skills too. All too soon it was time to pack up and move on to pick up the rest of the team for lunch.

At the moment we are sheltering from the tropical downpour which arrived with impeccable timing at 4 pm, just as we finished our afternoon session at Buhinga School in Fort Portal. 170+ very excited children welcomed us with a cheering crowd surrounding the bus as we arrived. After negotiation with the teachers in charge, we reduced numbers from 200+ and organised relays and cone pick-ups which raised the excitement level even more……

Everyone played their part in crowd control by taking on big groups in their stations, however at one point there seemed to be chaos ensuing on the Cross-Fire station which also happened to lead to Ciaran dancing to a Ugandan song!

Leading on from the above – one of the challenges that arose today and from past school visits, is the balancing act of feeding off and using the children’s frenetic energy and excitement whilst not ‘over revving’ them to the point of anarchy! This was painfully brought home late in this afternoon’s session when some particularly boisterous students hyped up by Richard, broke rank at the bowling station, hurling balls all over the shop including one directed at the hapless coach’s groin region! The mix of fun vs the message is a tricky but key skill to master.

As we approach the final few days of the trip the team is steeling itself for a final push, raising our weary bodies and minds to finish off on a high in Fort Portal. The top notch pancakes at the guest house set us up at breakfast – the equivalent of one last 5 over blast from the pavilion end is required, give it all you’ve got!

CWB Written by: