In Lugazi, at what has to be said is a fine cricket facility, the project to combine cricket coaching with HIV/AIDS prevention education – CWB’s raison d’être – could be observed as a definitive reality. In a tent beside the pitch the Mehta Free Medical Clinic set up shop. Staffed by some wonderful nurses from the Mehta Hospital, this mobile clinic that travels around the country, is an HIV testing station.
A steady stream of adults and children came to be tested throughout the day whereupon they were given a thorough questionnaire before having a blood sample taken. The result is available in five minutes and is given in a separate room with counselling available. Promoting the testing regime is a key component in the fight against AIDS as early diagnosis is important and it can help in countering the stigma attached to the disease
To have the testing station as part of the day is very important to us as a team, for the project in Uganda and for CWB as a whole.
Every day is colourful but today was especially so as we were treated to two sessions of entertainment, pitch-side, involving a group of drummers and a troupe of traditional dancers – all children. The absorbing rhythms of the Tom-toms, bongos and djembes developed into crescendos of rhythmic frenzy whilst the dancers, wearing long scarlet robes with akalibas – long hair goatskins worn around the waist – absorbed the polyphonic rhythms to control their mesmeric whole-body articulation.
It was a sumptuous show, totally engaging, with the 200-strong audience completely captivated. It is part of the FASBEC project – Family Strength for a Better Child.
A heavy rain storm curtailed the cricket in the afternoon but didn’t dampen the mood. Whereas in England we are used to humming and hawing when rain starts – should we go off?/should we stay on? – here, simultaneous to the rain coming, all the 200 children belted for cover as one, without a by-your-leave. Astonished coaches stood around bemused in mid-bowl/shot/catch.
Today Paul the Poet was not with us: he caught a dose of White Water Rafting – level five he proudly informed us. It sounded like a bone-crunching, joint-jarring, psyche-scarring, very wet experience. Apparently there are water snakes in the Nile which swim well but are harmless (personally I’ve never bought the idea of a harmless snake). There are also cobras which definitely are not harmless but they don’t swim well so no need to worry…(huh?). And there is a crocodile in the rafting area but Paul’s group didn’t spot it (too busy crunching bones, jarring joints, blowing mind and getting wet I suppose) so that’s ok then. He had a great time.
Back to the Testing tent. The four brilliant nurses who are running the programme – Lillian, Joy, Catherine and Janet – are based in the Mehta Hospital and they noticed I was limping with my sprained ankle. They decided to sort it out for me applying Penodex ointment, giving me painkillers and massaging the painful areas on my foot. It worked! Within half an hour I was able to walk almost properly and the swelling was significantly reduced. Lillian insisted I went back for more treatment in the afternoon and after that the sprain appeared to be almost healed with completely free movement and the chance to pull my weight in the team again rather than just supply them with regular hydration.
So special thanks go to the nurses of the Mehta Free Medical Clinic.