So the final day of coaching has arrived. Manny had a full schedule planned for us today, 7 schools and a visit to Family Spirit, a local orphanage. By now we know the drill, breakfast at 7.30 am (soggy bottomed toast today due to a prolonged power cut), then bus at 8.30 am, school visits by 9.00 am.
We dropped team Manny off at Kihande Muslim Primary school and our team proceeded to St Edwards Primary School. You can tell that you have a lively one when all the children chase the bus into the school waving and blowing kisses, it’s a great way to be greeted.
Our first session was with around 90 younger primary children who were very excited to see us. It passed with little incident but after the session we did seem to have ‘lost’ a large number of tennis balls. A tennis ball to an African child is a treasured possession, so often they do accidentally slip into a pocket or find there way into the long grass to be retrieved later. With the help of the teachers, several sheepish children offered up the ‘Lost balls’ from behind trees, shorts pockets and bags. 10 balls retrieved, high five!
The next session was with slightly older children from the Army school. As you can imagine they were well disciplined and very competitive. We started them off with some relays and they were just getting into the swing of things when 4 long horned cows appeared in the field. Initially this did not seem an issue as they looked to be tied up and they had a cowherder with them. However…….it soon became apparent that they had been untied and were running towards the kids (and us) at some pace, these animal have massive horns so panic set in. Rita screamed, then Sarah and Rita, with child safety at the forefront of their minds, ran and hid behind the kids. By this time the kids were swinging cricket bats at the cows to little effect and the cowherder was strolling about waving a twig to try to gather the cows. After much screaming and general hilarity the cows were brought under control and tied to trees at the bottom of the field.
So after the Cow induced stoppage, play was able to resume with only minor incident, one cow broke loose and decided he would like to feed from our tennis ball bag. Two brave volunteers, Nick and Sarah, wrestled the bag from the cows chewing jaws and sent him packing.
As we left the school I did see the same cow give out a long moooo and then stroll into a cubicle in the boys toilet. Some small child will be getting a surprise later…
It was a busy final coaching day for the team Manny. We coached 3 sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon with the odd dash into a classroom when the heavens opened.
Everyday you spend coaching out here with CWB is a bit special. The enthusiasm and engagement from the children, their sheer joy of having you visit them and of course reinforcing their HIV knowledge.
However, today I had that bit of icing on the cake as I got to share this experience with my son Tom as for the first time on this trip we were paired up to actually run sessions together. There is no doubt Tom has been the loudest member of the team and revels in winding the kids up. I was not entirely sure this wouldn’t drive me nuts.!However there was only one way to find out! I have to say team Father & Son worked perfectly with our contrasting styles complementing each other. Me asking the questions and describing the drills, Tom providing the energy and excitement. We even managed to sing a few songs with the kids together. (I use the word sing in the loosest of terms). It’s safe to say I got my ‘proud dad moment’ 🙂
And then it was the time for our final coaching session of the day and of the Uganda trip! We arrived at St. Theresa secondary and boarding school around 4:30 PM, it was a special session, as both the teams came together to deliver this session, after doing several sessions throughout the trip in two groups. It was an impromptu plan to do something different for this session. There were eight stations running in parallel covering different set of activities, ranging from netball, cross fire challenge, rapid fire, to bowling, batting, and catching sessions, with excited kids moving from one station to another station enjoying themselves. It created a festival like energy and environment. It was a perfect sight to see where several volunteers were running the stations independently, be creative, and quickly adapt based on the mood of the hour, and children (which would be hard to imagine two weeks ago!) and successfully engaging a large number of children after school hours!
I opted to run the bowling station, which was one of my first session on the trip with Rob. Children were really enjoying themselves, especially the wiggle 🙂 I could see there was an element of learning (basic bowling technique), a healthy competitive spirit as well as the engagement on HIV awareness topic through myth buster avert cards and of course a bit of fun!
Having never played cricket before or neither did I have any prior coaching experience, I felt that in last two weeks, I have come a long way to be able to confidently deliver a session and engage the kids. After we finished the session, a group of girls came along hugging me, holding my hand and telling that they really enjoyed the session and would want to become a confident women like me when they grow up! That was such a humbling and satisfying moment of my journey, I felt worthwhile to have inspired a few girls.
This is just one example of how far the CWB volunteers have come along in two weeks, and the various ways we are able to inspire while sharing smiles and joy with the children we coach!
Written by: Lucy Holroyd, Rob Munson, Taruna Bhagtani