• It’s Going To Be Muddy

    May 2nd 2015. “It’s going to be muddy,” said Phelix, a Community Impact Coach from Tanzania, after learning that our team was heading to Mbita for our next training. His declaration proved accurate as the torrential rain held up just long enough for us to get to our guest house that looked right out onto Lake Victoria. The following morning we had a very slippery and puddle filled journey to the field we would be using for the week. Kicking off the mud from my sneakers I sought out to inspect the pitch. I expected to sink into the rich, dark and wet soil that explained the many maize crops bordering every road into Mbita. To my surprise the field had sustained the downpour and was ready to welcome the many coaches and leaders from BOYCHILD and the community. By implementing sport for development programs in local schools and offering agricultural training BOYCHILD strives to impact the lives of young boys in Mbita who they see as most at risk in their community.

    As with every training we began with a game called ‘Circle of Friends.’ Starting in a big circle, some players begin by doing an active exercise into the middle. They then find a player on the outside of the circle to exchange with. As you exchange places you shout out various things about yourself. For example, we usually start with players simply stating their name. Then progressing to players stating their favorite football club or something they like about their community. This game is a great way to warm up our bodies and learn more about the people who we will be with for the week. Being a year two program the coaches at BOYCHILD have seen their fair share of ‘Circle of Friends’ so it was our goal to get the participants to come up with new exercises and exchanges. Seizing the opportunity Lillian, a mother of three, boldly entered the circle, completed an exercise and to exchange with a player proclaimed, “I am a leader!” It was great to see such fearlessness on the first day – no doubt giving us a glimpse as to what we could expect from this group of coaches.

    Following the end of the third day of our training Joseph, a director of BOYCHILD, took our team to visit a family in the area that BOYCHILD helps support. We spoke to the parents who have seven children, five of which are both physically and mentally disabled. With Joseph helping to translate from Swahili we heard from the father who spoke about how much he enjoys life and only wants to see his children grow up and be happy. The father went on to explain how he had recently lost his job as a school teacher and is now removing weeds from peoples farms to earn a living. Making it all the more difficult to provide for his seven children. I cannot begin to imagine the challenges that he and his wife must face on a daily basis. To raise five severely disabled children with limited resources and with the complete absence of health care is no small feat. In parts of Africa there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding disabled people. These myths have served to further alienate disabled people, making their lives all the more arduous. BOYCHILD does their best to provide the family with maize, flour and sugar and has helped raise the capital for the mother to start her own second hand clothes business – providing a sustainable source of income.

    I continue to be amazed by the efforts being made by people all over the world trying to make their communities a better place to live. Meeting people like Lillian and Joseph force you to be optimistic about the future of Mbita and Kenya. This diverse country possesses a diverse group of people who have different ideas on how to solve their problems.