I always tell people who are interested in coming to Africa that South Africa is a good, easy place to start. Cape Town is a like little Europe, and the whole country has wonderful animal parks with easy roads and great infrastructure. Kenya on the other hand has pot hole filled roads, layers of fine dust that gets into everything, and corruption in the government which leads to the bad infrastructure. However, Kenya provides something that countries in Southern Africa don’t quite have, that wild Africa feeling where the animals still rule. The beauty of the wild animals, the incredible views like the endless savannas, the rift valley, and volcanic geology, and also amazingly nice people are what make Kenya so special. Over the last few days we have driven through herds of zebra and wildebeest in the savanna, we sipped a cold coke out of a glass bottle while overlooking the rift valley, but the most memorable things have been our interactions with people in different communities through our teaching baseball.
Looking back over our first few days of baseball it is a wonder that it has gone so well. The difficulties with the program started before I even landed in Africa. Checking the Africa news while on my layover in New York I read an article about how all of the public school teachers in Kenya were on strike which meant the schools were closed. Since we teach baseball at the schools I was a little worried. Turns out the teachers go on strike quite often (about every 2 years) because the government can follow through with a deal for a pay raise that was struck 15 years ago! So after landing in Nairobi, Kenya and following up with the teachers and games masters of our baseball school we realized that teaching there at the moment is impossible.
Luckily my father, Jim, has made many wonderful contacts here in Kenya over the past decade of baseball4africa who have been invaluable to the sport here. In fact one of these friends, George Kinuthia, met us at the airport and helped us problem solve were to start this baseball season. George manages a community sports program in his district of Kabete so that was our first stop. He actually opened up his house for me, Jim, and Jack to stay at where we met up with his son Tyson, and wife Njeri. We stayed there for two nights while training the Kabete Vikings baseball. They caught on very quick and really took to the game. I think they have a bright future with someone as passionate as George taking the lead.
The next day we traveled a few hours north to a town called Elburgon. This was a team that Jim had previously outfitted and trained with the help of some of the Japanese Embassy folks. I was blown away when we drove up to see the kids already on the field playing a game. I did not expect to see that level of knowledge of the game way out here. We trained with the kids here all morning and into the early afternoon, showing off different skills, games, and then even challenging them to a game; all of them against Jim, Jack, and me.
Food is very important here in Kenya, and if you have all of the neighborhood kids out all day, George instructed us that something like bread and juice would be greatly appreciated. So we brought about 12 loafs of bread and two big juice concentrates to mix with water which in the end fed about 70 kids. All of that for $17. Its things like this that change your whole perspective on things. So the first two days of teaching baseball were a great success. That's when we met the Chief of Twitter and things really got rolling. To be continued...