Thursday, 29 June 2017

A wonderful adventure part 2

A wonderful adventure part 2

Back at the beginning of the year, i told you about my friend Clare who was off to do some amazing work with the children in Uganda.
Clare, an out and out cricket fan, wanted to use her love of the game to spread important information,

I recently had a proper catch up with her about her adventure.

Clare it’s been a couple of months since you got back from your brilliant adventure in Uganda
Tell me what your initial reaction to the country was, that feeling when you stepped off the plane
Well, it was 4am when we landed, so it was dark – but very warm. I could hear crickets in the background but other than that I kind of felt that I could be anywhere warm. Once aboard the team bus we set off on the drive to Kampala and it was still dark. I remember feeling a little disappointment that I couldn’t really see anything and didn’t get any sense of what the country was like.
What was your first job when you got there?
Our first job was to drive to the Ugandan Cricket Headquarters in Kampala – to the Lugogo Cricket Ground to collect our CWB t-shirts. When we arrived it was still dark, no-one was about and I still couldn’t really see anything – apart from the turnstile at the gates – it was one of those golden-oldie traditional types – lovely. Anyway we waited a while, until the T-shirts turned up on a moped and we hit the road again.
However, our first real job – after driving ‘the World’s most dangerous road’ from Kampala to Masaka and booking into our rather lovely hotel – was to deliver our first coaching session. Talk about in at the deep end!!
Safe to say I slept that night!!
Tell me what a typical day was like
Hmmm, a typical day…. Although the schools and areas changed a typical day was every day apart from our one day off!
Team breakfast – toast, eggs (however you like them), fruit and coffee between 7 and 8am.. Team talk, malerone reminders, plan for the day
Head straight out to a school or a local recreation ground ready for coaching from 9am… with flexibility for what is commonly known as ‘African time’
Sometimes there would be 100s of children ready and waiting and other times we would be hanging around – or playing various versions of golf or cricket
Sometimes we would split up to cover more schools
Sometimes we may have 3 or 4 schools at a time
Sometimes we would have 2 schools and then another may arrive, and another
Lunch – anytime between 12 and 2pm – light snacks/ street food and water!
Afternoon sessions ran from post lunch as long as the schools were available. Sometimes 4ish, even up to 6ish
Return to hotel – group chat – what worked well and what could we do better (inc 90 second restricted feedback from Manny – our local Ambassador and Ugandan cricketer – he could talk for hours)
shower and change, dinner, chill out and bed by 10 most nights!
We saw that you visited an orphanage whilst you were there, what were your feelings when you got there?
I prepared myself to cry buckets. I did not. I guess I thought I would find a desperate environment, filled with sadness, hopelessness and poverty. Poverty is a really strange concept and is hard to evaluate
How well do you think using cricket to get your message across to children is?
Cricket’s inclusivity makes it a perfect vehicle for getting the ABCT messages across to children. The way the training is structured, each cricket skill links to a part of the message, for example
A is for Abstain – in cricket when we are bowling we Abstain from bending our arm…. What things in life could we abstain from in order to keep us safe and healthy?
Participants then have the opportunity to practice their bowling action and volunteers reinforce the Abstain message throughout the session.
So the messages are clear, they are linked to a cricket skill and all participants have the opportunity to test their skills and knowledge – perfect!!
How hard was the HIV/ AIDS/ FGM message across?
In Uganda we did no work around FGM
I guess what I quickly realised (and I changed my emojis accordingly) is that the AIDS and HIV messages are the most important part of what we do. They are embedded into every part of our introductions, wrap-ups and throughout and during the coaching – the raison d’etre. So in this way it was not hard to get across. We had to get used to shouting condom and talking about AIDS and HIV – I think it was more challenging for us than the children. And because the way the coaching is structured – each cricket skill is linked to one of the A, B, C, T messages – it is unavoidable
Were the children aware of the issues?
Yes, some of the children were aware of the issues and the ABCT messages; however, our M&E figures clearly demonstrate the increased awareness of the issues post-sessions compared to pre-session.
How cricket aware were the children?
Most of the children have heard of cricket and some had played before – some had no knowledge at all – what was evident was the amount of fun they had learning about the great game!
You got to meet members of the Ugandan national cricket team, what were they like?
It was a fabulous end to our trip. The last day followed a night of thunderstorms and began with torrential rain – and it was chilly. We went to the school where I final festival should have been only to find that the Head teacher would not let us use his facilities – that, coupled with the rain seemed to spell a rather disappointing end to our trip; however our local Ambassador Manny, would stop at nothing to ensure the festival went ahead.
As luck would have it, the Cranes (the national team) should have played at The (Entebbe) Oval on that day too, but a hole in the covers meant that the wicket had a puddle in the middle of it so the game could not go ahead.
So we held our final festival day at the Oval – and the players supported us to deliver the sessions. They were great – they gave tips on skills and teamwork and provided hands on support with batting grip etc. They were down to Earth, helpful and keen to give something back to the youngsters. This provided the perfect conclusion too my trip.
Have you been bitten by the bug (no!!! not the one that did really bite you), the CWB bug?
In a word – Yes. I have already applied to go back next year and am planning (in my head) my fundraising ideas in preparation
It’s funny but when we went on the training weekend – the organisers talked about being part of the CWB family; and at the end of our 2 weeks, Greg reminded us of that and now you have mentioned it – I must say that I do feel part of the CWB family – I have defo been bitten by the bug.
How many words would it take you to sum up your 2 weeks in Uganda?
One, two a few or a book…
Totally awesome
Best 2 weeks of my entire life so far.
Challenging, inspiring, fun, rewarding, and motivating: I learned a lot about myself and the world around me and shared some of my lived experiences with others. I loved feeling satisfied and tired at the end of the day. The weather was just about right for me (hot and sunny). I have made some friends for life
And next year?
If they’ll have me I’d love to go back to Uganda and do it all over again

Thank you Clare for sharing your wonderful experience with us.


Lee Booth said...

Lovely blog and great to have you as part of the CWB family

SJ said...

I'm hoping we can do it all over again together - friends for life both in Uganda and here :)