Feels Like Home
CAC Self-Directed Learning coach Turner Humphries blogs about our first week in Uganda in 2015 with Ndejje University and his return to the country.
March 30th 2015. I jumped into a matatu, a ubiquitous taxi van, usually crammed with more people than there are seats. From Kampala it was just a short drive to Bombo where Ndejje University is located. It was there that I would be spending the next week with my colleague, Kelly and our Community Impact Coach from Tanzania, Nico. As soon as you escape the big city commotion and chaos of Kampala you find yourself surrounded by a myriad of trees, each with different subtle shades of vibrant green. Despite a harsh dry season the plant life had refused to succumb to the intense equatorial rays of the sun. It was only seven months ago that I had called Uganda my home. I had lived in Kampala for the better part of a year and I never imagined I would be returning so soon. With the sun beaming through the window of the matatu beads of sweat began to form on my forehead, soon I would be fully drenched. The conductor of the vehicle shouted out the route we were taking to potential customers, competing with the blare of hip-hop music blasting through blown out speakers. Careening down the bumpy road narrowly avoiding people driving 100cc motorcycles I could not help but smile; I was most certainly back in Uganda and I was happy.
Our first day working with Ndejje University was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie opening, or at least how I would imagine one to be. Five different media houses were on hand to capture how we integrate various social messages into football games. The Vice Chancellor of the University as well as the Sports Tutor said a few words to kick off our training and expressed their excitement about the future of our partnership together. Around one hundred coaches participated in the first ever program at Ndejje, many of whom were representing outside organizations. Being a year one program we were careful to take time on the basics, the majority of the participants had never heard of football for social impact before, so much attention was given to the fundamentals of our curriculum. One particular moment that highlights our Self-Directed Learning model came when it was time to put everyone into teams for our ‘Ronaldo for Fun’ game. Coach Kelly instructed everyone to organize themselves into six equal teams. The initial reaction from everyone was focused stares on the CAC coaches, as the participants undoubtedly expected to receive more pointed instructions. Realizing that no further directions were coming confusion began to creep in. “But we don’t have bibs!” “How many players in each team?” Shouted many of the participants voicing their frustration. We shrugged our shoulders and told them to solve their problem. As time passed groups of players began to form as they started organizing people into teams based on the color of their shirt. Before long, six equal teams were ready to take the field. Kelly could have easily told the group to get into six teams with twelve players on each. Instead we used the opportunity to allow for participants to work together to arrive at their own solution – creating Self-Directed Learners in the process.
One thing that stood out to me about this program was the genuine openness and curiosity the participants had regarding our sexual health and HIV games. We played a game called ‘Can Adebayor See HIV?’ In this game two teams of players line up facing each other. Players on each team stand close together with their hands behind their backs. Players close their eyes and the coach puts a bottle cap in the hands of one person on each team. In this game the bottle cap represents the HIV virus. Keeping their hands behind their backs, players then open their eyes and take turns guessing who on the other team has the bottle cap, representing HIV. This game serves to show that you cannot tell if a person has HIV by simply looking at them, the only way to know is to get tested together. Many of the participants came up to me during water breaks to ask me further questions regarding HIV. Showing my own ignorance about the disease many of their questions required me to seek out answers on the internet. It was great to see how inquisitive they were about a topic that many people find difficult to speak on.
Our week at Ndejje University encompassed many of the things that make Uganda such a great place to visit: welcoming jovial people, picturesque landscapes, and genuine laughter and smiles despite the hardships faced by many. Many thanks to John Kaddu and the rest of the Ndejje University staff for making our stay so memorable. Webale ssebo!