It’s crazy when you think about it. One day you fill out an online application form, potentially chat to a stranger from the charity for half an hour to discuss roughly what to expect and before you know it you’ve agreed to join a two week project to Africa. As somebody who has been on multiple trips, I think it is sometimes easy to forget just how brave that actually is. We all did it once though and regardless of how well travelled and prepared a volunteer may feel, there is always a leap of faith involved when embarking on your first CWB project. However, the common denominators for all volunteers is courage, a sense of adventure and an even stronger sense of simply wanting to try and do some good in the world. I have no doubt any previous volunteers reading this will instantly recognise those character traits, for it is what binds us together and helps to make CWB the special charity it is. In that sense, this project is no different and as our time in Uganda slowly draws to a close I am pleased to write that this team has demonstrated and upheld those values throughout.
The success of the trip hasn’t happened by chance though and there has been a huge amount of planning and replanning that has taken place throughout to make things work. An example of this was Friday’s festival – the third of four – which was originally planned for Saturday. However, we recognised that although the children would undoubtedly be enthusiastic about playing, we knew it was very unlikely the teachers, including several who had attended coach education earlier in the week, would be willing to give up their valuable weekend time. Therefore, while the rest of us coached,Manny and Lee sprung into action on Thursday afternoon and hastily contacted the primary schools to rearrange it for Friday.
It worked, and yet again when the team arrived at Masaka Secondary School’s ground at 9:30 we were met with a field full of excited primary (and one secondary) school children ready to pit their wits against each other in a tournament of Rapid Fire. A vibrant morning followed, filled with balls being hit and fielded with the usual competitive enthusiasm, health messages reinforced, with the whole event wrapped up in thousands and thousands of beaming smiles. Most teams won at least one game but the stand out was Hill Road Primary – who most of us agreed were the most organised team we have seen all trip – with 5 wins and a draw.
And so onto the afternoon, and with Thursday’s discussions still in our minds the majority of the team opted for another visit to St Gerald’s where we met with many of the same teenagers from the day before. This time we decided on skill stations before setting up two raucous games of Rapid Fire. However, the reason we really wanted to be there was to continue some of the challenging discussions we had started previously. At the end of the session therefore, again we offered to stay for as long as it took to answer any questions the students wanted to ask us. This time, breaking off into small groups we managed to cover a range of topics including sexual health (busting the myth that condoms give you cancer and that some are deliberately designed to have holes in them!), politics, religion, education and, of course, question after question about our lives back home in the UK. It was brilliant and so refreshing to talk to some highly intelligent students and we are confident that when we left this time, to hundreds of high fives, we had made a lot of new friends. We even had an impromptu dance off with them – I’m sure you can imagine how that went for us…
Our last stop of another epic day was back to Masaka Secondary where Lee had gone to work with the cricket team again. This time there was a real structure to the session but it was a final piece of news that put the gloss on another amazing day. Here we learnt that twelve students from Kasese – an area that CWB introduced cricket to a few years ago and Manny has been visiting since – were now on cricket scholarships. Five at Masaka Secondary and another seven at a school further East in the country. There will be more to come on this story hopefully, both via our CWB channels and the press, but if there was ever an example of how CWB can have a direct effect on improving children’s lives, this was it. Proud? You bet we are, and so should everyone who has ever been involved in a project in this amazing country.
So, perhaps filling out that application really isn’t such a crazy thing to do after all!