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Portland stalwart Neven reflects on Uganda trip
6:30pm Monday 18th March 2013 in Sport
PORTLAND Red Triangle’s GRANT NEVEN reflects on his trip to Uganda with the charity Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB)
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language that they understand. Sport can create hope where there once was only despair. It’s more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” – Nelson Mandela
NEVER has a truer statement been spoken. Having had time to reflect on my recent trip to Uganda, I have many memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
When first asked what the trip was all about, I tried to explain the CWB mission and the difference that a small group could make to AIDS/HIV awareness through coaching and playing cricket.
Some cynics replied ‘Oh I see, a free trip and a bit of cricket’ – if only they knew.
The first big challenge was getting to know the group, whose ages ranged from 19-68 and whose members came from all walks of life.
I was very fortunate in that the group gelled from the start and throughout the trip, mucked in, laughed and cried together and rose to the many challenges that presented themselves. Lifelong friendships have been formed and many in the group plan to meet up on a regular basis.
Uganda itself proved to be everything I expected and more. The people were amazing, friendly and full of hope, even if their time-keeping was set to the Ugandan ethos of ‘once we get there, it will all be done’.
The country itself was beautiful and yet as mad as a fish. Extreme poverty, a fragmented infrastructure and roads that daily tested the strength of your spine took nothing away from a country that had pride in itself and wished to progress.
As a group we were based in three centres during the trip, Kampala, Jinja and Masaka. Each centre provided us the opportunity to train up teachers to teach cricket and pass on the AIDS/HIV awareness message for years to come, and they all proved to be willing pupils with a thirst for knowledge and experience.
The children themselves were a joy not just to teach and play cricket with, but all were so enthusiastic and willing to learn. At times, their natural ability was awesome and all was ach-ieved with a huge smile and continual thanks to all us coaches.
Of course we had some free time and this was not wasted. We visited orphanages and Aids clinics in each centre where we spent time with the staff and children, learning about the battle that countries like Uganda face in their fight to obtain medicines and support.
To sum up – time well spent, knowledge gained and passed on, new friendships formed and a sense that our efforts as a team will help to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, help to promote education through sport and leave a lasting legacy for the future.
Finally, I would encourage all to have a look at the work done and achieved by CWB – it is hard work, challenging but rewarding.
Could you be the next volunteer? I for one will be returning – the job has only just begun.
To find out more about CWB visit their website at cricketwith outboundaries.com