Umm‰Û_SD‰Û_What?! SDX = Sports Development Expedition Catherine, our Expedition Leader who just can’t leave Kenya will fill you in… The first SDX began 3 years ago in Muhaka near Diani, in partnership with students from Bournemouth University and is now in its 4th year (The Bournemouth team are blazing away at Camp Makongeni this very moment). But this is the first of it‰Ûªs kind to be run here in Itinyi, and with a new partnership called Umoja comprising 3 Educational institutions from Bristol (Bristol University, University of West of England and Filton College). The proud team of Camp ImaniCamp Imani is set in the small village of Itinyi in the Taita Taveta region of Kenya, surrounded by wildlife reserves and spectacular scenery habitated by the ‰Û÷Big five‰Ûª. The camp is run by the Imani Women Group lead by the inspirational Mama Mercy ‰ÛÒa trail blazing stalwart of the community who has organised training and created income generating opportunities for the high proportion of uneducated women in the area, as well as providing counseling and care to the many HIV sufferers and their families. So, that‰Ûªs where we are, but what are we doing here?   Well, Itinyi has two schools just a few hundred meters apart ‰ÛÒItinyi Primary and Marungu Secretary. Primary education in Kenya is up to 14 years and Secondary from 14 to 18. You get to go to Secondary if a) you get good enough grades and b) you can afford it, so for those who don‰Ûªt meet those criteria, their formal education largely ends there. Typically the young men of the village spend their spare time/unemployed hours taking drugs and alcohol, while the women are married off young and soon find themselves trying to bring up a family. The purpose of the SDX is to engage with the local youth, both in and out of school, through sport, to generate all the benefits we so often take for granted back home ‰ÛÒteamwork, confidence, friendship, pride and achievement. To be part of something, especially a team, can be both a huge comfort and motivation for young people who are denied so many of the opportunities available to us. Wilmslow The SDX programme is largely divided into two parts; the morning project work is spent clearing, preparing and making sporting pitches and facilities around the two school grounds, and the afternoon is spent coaching anyone who wants to be coached!åÊ The 13 students and staff from Bristol are working with Camp Kenya and the local people over 3 weeks to create a sporting centre for the community where the youth can socialise and play. We also aim to create a sporting legacy, by setting up and improving the school and youth teams through a daily training programme, and by engaging and training the teaching staff and community members in the rules and methods of coaching and refereeing the different sports. In this way we hope that the young people of the area will continue to engage in sport throughout the year and succeed in interschool and community tournaments. The whole programme here at Imani will culminate in a two day Sports Festival where those who‰Ûªve taken part in the free training programme will compete in teams against one another in Football, Netball, Volleyball and Cricket, and be crowned the first Bristol-Imani SDX champions! Wilmslow In order to do all that, A LOT of work has to be done. Work is already underway on making some gabions (strategically placed hand dug trenches filled with stone and wire mesh) to divert the flow of water that currently erodes gullies over a meter deep across the current football pitch during the wet season. Diverting the water will save the pitch, and will also save the local church‰Ûªs foundations that were being worn away. Some may call it divine intervention‰Û_needless to say; we‰Ûªve made a good impression! Once that has been the work doesn‰Ûªt stop there though. Also the to-do list is: ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ Leveling and marking the football pitch and fitting new goal posts at either end ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ Clearing the secondary school netball court of thorny Acacias and stones ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ Clearing stones from the primary netball court, fitting new goal posts and marking boundaries ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ åÊMaking a new primary school volleyball court and fitting new volleyball posts ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ Marking out and fitting new Volleyball posts for the secondary school ‰Û¢åÊåÊåÊ Finishing clearing and marking a brand new cricket pitch ‰ÛÒthe first in the area! Three days in, here‰Ûªs a blog from Ben, one of the SDX students: ‰ÛÏAfter a 10 hour flight and a 4 hour drive we finally arrived in the beautiful setting of Camp Imani. We wasted little time in introducing our knowledge of sport to the community. They are so friendly and eager to learn. By Tuesday we were inundated with children from the school and the village who were so excited to see us there and couldn‰Ûªt wait to play football, netball and cricket. The joy on their faces let us know that what we are doing is appreciated so highly by the local people. Tuesday was our sports introduction. We trialled the children and were amazed at their talent. With the right guidance they could become fantastic players! They have never had proper coaching and this was hindering their athletic talent. On Wednesday we got into some serious coaching, running fun warm up games, skill drills and matches. The children were full of energy and didn‰Ûªt stop running. They were having the time of their lives. They would have played all night if the sun hadn‰Ûªt gone down. The sunset was stunning. It really is amazing to be in such a wonderful country. We are all starting to realise how much we take for granted back home, and are thoroughly enjoying living the African way. In the evening we met Peter, a funny, bubbly Kenyan man who taught us the language of the Swahili people. This turned out to be very useful as the following day our sessions ran so smoothly. We were able to communicate better with the Kenyan children and introduce a bit more order to our training. The afternoon began with netball and cricket, with a massive football session later, which everybody got involved with. Before all this though, there was a lot of hard work to be done. We needed to save the football pitch from soil erosion during the wet season by digging trenches and filling them with stones. This will prevent water from flowing down and destroying the only leisure resource that this village has. It will also divert the water away from the church. On Thursday evening we had a truly inspirational talk from Mama Mercy, who set up a women‰Ûªs group and has done so much for the community. She really opened our eyes to why we are here and how much they appreciate the work we are doing. We will work so hard over the next two weeks to create a more developed community that can be maintained after we leave. This project is so much more than just sport. It is all about improving the lives of the community here forever.‰Û Ben Brown, UWE. 25/08/11