Jem Warner: Rwanda Report April 2016

Jem 3

I’ve come to appreciate a few more of the quirks of Rwandan life. People insist  – with rigour – that there is ‘no problem’, when sometimes there quite clearly is.

They love to call white people ‘muzungu’ and for some reason ask if you want your beer cold or warm. Who wants a warm beer in the heat of east Africa?!

I’ve been spending my weekends in the capital Kigali. It’s a place that has been transformed in recent years and looking at previous pictures, it has come a long way. I’ve visited the Genocide Memorial Centre, and various burial sites around Kigali, which have been deeply moving.

After finishing my time at SACCA, the street children’s project in Kayonza, I moved 10 miles west to the town of Rwamagana. I’ve been working at the Excel Bilingual School teaching Maths and English to the slightly older primary school children.

I’ve also been teaching them cricket, and helping to sort out the school library.

The lessons are interesting to say the least. There are nearly forty to a class, and they are all so appreciative of the fact they are in education. Their English is actually very good, considering it is their second language and they’ve engaged brilliantly with me.

I was kindly invited to lunch with the headmaster of the primary school. Being the ‘guest of honour’, the host insisted – as part of tradition – that I ate a part of the chicken I didn’t think was actually edible. I had to grin and bear it though!

I’ve also been training with the national Rwandan cricket team, and it’s been such an experience. I’ve even played a few inter-squad friendlies for the Rwandan team. Does this mean I’m now an international cricketer? Sadly I don’t think it does!

They play their cricket at the Kicukiro school, on an artificial wicket that certainly isn’t worthy of a team of such talent. And poignantly, the very grounds the team plays and trains on is the site where 4,500 Rwandans were murdered during the genocide.

Luckily, the Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation is in the process of building a new international standard cricket ground nearby, which will be completed over the next couple of years.

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