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Andrew Ference's African Diary, Day 3

Wednesday, 07.18.2007 / 1:53 PM / Features
By Andrew Ference  - Special Correspondent | BostonBruins.com
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Andrew Ference\'s African Diary, Day 3
Andrew Ference recently traveled to Africa with "Right to Play." The Bruins D-man kept a diary on his journey and you can read his thoughts about the trip in this seven installment series.

[ Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7Photo Gallery ]

I don't know if there is a sweeter sound than 200 children singing songs in the morning.

For me it is a pick me up that a double shot of espresso could not even come close to matching. 

Today, we had a sports day at Msimbazi primary school, which was kicked off with these songs and followed by a quick warm up led by Steve Montador and myself.  Stretches like arm swings, leg kicks, and a real crowd pleaser, the bum shake, got us ready for a day of "games."

"Right to Play" incorporates important messages into its games that educate the kids while they are having fun. 

Yesterday it was a follow the leader type of game that had the message of killing mosquitoes and getting rid of malaria.  Today it was a British bulldog type of game that had five children symbolizing rats trying to catch all the other kids. The message is if you see a rat in your house or neighborhood get away from it and don't let it touch you.

The very sad fact is that this is a daily occurrence for these kids and it's an important lesson for them to learn to avoid disease.

Steve (left) and Andrew play tag in Dar
Handball, volleyball and, of course, soccer were played by everyone after these initial games and it was great to see such equality between the girls and the boys. They played with and against each other with seemingly no discrimination or lack of respect when it came to battling for a ball or picking a teammate to pass to.

The common opinion is that equality and empowering young girls and women is the biggest factor in stopping the spread of HIV and also the large problem of domestic abuse. 

The only thing so far to really catch me off guard was how easy it is to fall in love with these kids. They are honestly some of the warmest, most genuine people I have ever come across in my life.  There is no sound as sweet as their singing and their smiles are brighter than the African sun.

They spontaneously break into dance as music is playing constantly in the background of our games. Whether it was after good save in handball, or in the middle of a dance circle, I saw some sweet moves from the kids. They found out that hockey players are horrible dancers but urged us on anyways when we put forth our best efforts for them. 

There is a busy schedule of visiting different programs and we will see many more groups of kids but it has been difficult to leave every single one so far as you feel an immediate emotional connection with them.

We are flying over the African plains right this moment on our way to Mwanza where tomorrow we will again transfer to Mugumu to visit some more "Right to Play" programs.

I have a keen interest in landing in an hour or so because Mwanza is the community featured in the documentary "Darwin's Nightmare." A powerful movie I recommend to everyone except the people of Tanzania because the government has banned it here. 

It is a study of the introduction of an invasive species, the Nile Perch, into Lake Victoria and the effects it has had on everything from the economy and environment to AIDS and gun running.

It left a pit in my stomach when I was half way around the world so staying in the city will have more significance than just a stopover.

[ Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7Photo Gallery ]

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