I’m Tracey and I’m a Clinical Academic PhD student here at Southampton and a neonatal nurse at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust. In addition to my clinical academic nursing career I volunteer as the Kenya Country Manager for the charity ‘Cricket without Boundaries’, and I also run my own charity ‘THEY are Africa’.
In February I’m planning to travel to Kenya to help deliver a ground-breaking project to help empower women to tackle FGM (female genital mutilation) issues in the country.
My charity background
Cricket without Boundaries (CWB) is a charity that uses cricket as a vehicle to teach HIV/AIDS awareness messages to young people in various parts of Africa. The charity has been running since 2005 and has successful projects running in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Rwanda and Cameroon. Over 90,000 children have been coached since the charity began, and over 3000 adults have been trained to be cricket coaches.
My role as Kenya Country Manager involves me organising the projects in Kenya in partnership with Cricket Kenya, the official cricket board in the country. We have teams of volunteers that go out to Kenya a minimum of twice per year. One team is currently in Kenya now, and at the end of this month another team will go out to a different part of the country. Each team will be delivering cricket and HIV/AIDS awareness messages to thousands of children and teachers, and HIV/AIDS testing centres will be set up and delivered at some of the cricket festival locations.
First project of its kind
On a recent visit to Kenya in spring this year myself and fellow volunteers were approached by the locals who pleaded with us to help them campaign against FGM (female genital mutilation) in the country. The locals asked that we use cricket in the same way we use it to tackle HIV/AIDS awareness, and apply it to the FGM issues.
Since returning from that trip in March 2014 I, along with the CWB team, have been planning and organising the FGM Kenya project which will take place in February 2015. We are working in partnership with the charity ’28 too many’ and with the Maasai Cricket Warriors, who are already involved in FGM campaign work in Kenya.
Six experienced volunteers, including myself, will be embarking on the challenge next spring that aims to work with two secondary schools in Kenya, a health centre, health workers, midwives and a local rescue centre. We will be delivering cricket to empower women and young girls to have a voice, to shake up the cultural issues of women being oppressed; if they can be seen as cricket coaches in the community they can feel powerful too. We will use cricket to promote good health, and the importance of healthy living, we will teach the communities we work with about the health risks associated with FGM, such as haemorrhage and HIV/AIDS.
The FGM project is the first of its kind for CWB, and a risk too. We are stepping out as a charity but I’m doing this because I believe that sport can be used to transcend cultural boundaries. Sport is a universal language that everyone can understand and relate too. CWB believes cricket can open the eyes and hearts of the people it meets and give them hope for a better, healthier, empowered community. I’m totally passionate about making this project a success for everyone involved, not least those in Kenya who it will help most, for the better.
In my next blog I’ll tell you about all the preparations for the trip itself!
With best wishes,