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Kenyan and Canadian cricketers visit Boys’ Training Centre in St. Lucia

© UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2007/Howell
Maurice Ouma, batsman for the Kenyan cricket team, teaches one of the children at the Boys Training Centre in St. Lucia to perfect his cricket skills during a friendly game.

By Lisa McClean-Trotman

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, 16 March 2007 – Twenty-seven young boys living away from their homes and families – some abused or abandoned, others in conflict with the law – got a special treat when cricketers from the Kenyan and Canadian teams took time from their busy schedules to visit the UNICEF-supported Boys’ Training Centre in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, where the boys stay.

With the children acting as their tour guides, the six cricketers – Steve Tikolo, Peter Ongondo, Maurice Ouma and Tanmay Mishra, all from the Kenyan team, and Kevin Sandher and Umar Bhatti from the Canadian team – took the opportunity to view the carpentry, woodworking, mechanics and agricultural talents of the boys, who range in age from 14 to 16.

“It’s great that they are here,” said one of the boys, Elton Jan, who has been at the centre for almost 18 months and beamed with pride as he showed the cricketers the work he was doing on the farm.

Rules for success

“If you want to succeed in life, you should always focus on the three D’s – discipline, determination and dedication,” the captain of the Kenyan team, Mr. Tikolo, told the children. He spoke to the boys, who listened attentively, following an interactive cricket game in which members of both teams played with them for almost an hour.

“The rules for succeeding in cricket and sports are very much the same for succeeding in life,” Mr. Tikolo reminded the children.

© UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2007/Howell
McGuyver, 15, demonstrates for members of the Canadian cricket team how he makes cricket stumps during his woodworking class.

Mr. Sandher, spin bowler for the Canadian team, was clearly pleased with the visit. “It is good what they are doing here at the centre,” he said. “Here they are not just sitting in a classroom learning academics, but they are also learning skills, which they can use to contribute to society when they leave.”

The wicketkeeper on the Kenyan team, Mr. Ouma, called the visit “a very humbling experience,” adding: “Often we tend to take things for granted, especially if we have had a bad day at cricket, and we don’t realize there are others who have been through worse experiences.”

Boosting self-esteem

The cricketers’ visit to the centre is one of the outreach programmes organized by UNICEF offices in the Caribbean as part of the alliance between the International Cricket Council, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership to spotlight issues concerning children and HIV/AIDS during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

Health Education Specialist Elaine King of the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said it was clear from the boys’ overwhelming response – and the pride with which they demonstrated their work – that the cricketers’ visit had boosted their self-esteem and would encourage them to strive to reach their full potential.

Ms. King noted that people often do not make the link between risk factors for HIV and other vulnerabilities. When children have a poor self image, she said, it affects their decision-making and negotiating skills, and how they deal with peer pressure on issues concerning their sexuality – as well as other social issues such as violence and drugs abuse.

The Boys’ Training Centre was opened for children in need of care and protection relating to these areas of concern.



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