In October, last year, Sebastian Grace read about the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation which had enabled the building of the Gahanga National Cricket Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda. The Cricket Builds Hope Charity, is the legacy of that foundation and now works to raise awareness and funds to effect social change in Rwanda through cricket.
“Cricket is only twenty years old in Rwanda but it is already playing a major role in the drive toward reconciliation following the terrible genocide in the country,” said Seb.
Seb got in touch with the charity, who were surprised at the immense amount of media coverage their project had received in the UK, given the small size of the organisation, but was delighted to hear they were very excited by the prospect of him coming to volunteer and support their work.
Keen for the charity to continue to play a major role in the movement for social change in Rwanda, they were encouraging volunteers like Seb to become involved and help to work towards social change through cricket.
In support of this work, back in the UK, Seb set up a JustGiving page and raised over £5,500. He put systems in place for the collection of cricket kit, here at Malvern, as well as at his brother’s school and his local cricket club, acquiring a lot of kit and clothing through generous donations from many who got behind the project. In July 2018, he set off for Rwanda to be with the charity for a period of three weeks. He stayed with the charity’s local representative who runs the project on the ground.
“It was a tremendously busy, rewarding and fulfilling time,” says Seb. Rwanda were hosting the ICC World Cup T20 Africa B qualifiers, attended by Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, all taking part alongside the host nation, which revelled in their first official ICC event.
There was a lot to be getting along with on the logistical and organisational front for the tournament, and Seb also coached cricket, helping the charity to make a difference and making the most of the chances that he had to share his love of cricket with many young Rwandan enthusiasts and future stars! He says, “I have learnt a great deal from my experiences this summer and I am very eager to return for a longer stint in the not too distant future.”
Cricket Builds Hope has received funding from Comic Relief for their gender empowerment program, and the organisation is fast becoming a permanent fixture in the community.
“Their work for the gender empowerment program was very impressive. Professional coaches, locals trained by the charity, taught techniques that helped other local women to acquire skills such as self-advocacy, self-confidence and public speaking, before the Rwandan Cricket Association trained coaches used the second part of the sessions to put these learned skills into cricket scenarios and skill practise drills, designed to encapsulate what they had learned in the classroom.”
“I have witnessed, first hand, that independence and determination are crucial in building resilience in individuals. Cricket’s major role in furthering the progress of reconciliation throughout Rwanda is truly inspiring. The charity’s amazing work is indicative that sport has an enduring influence worldwide and can be a real force for change”.