Brixton student to build Rwanda’s first international cricket ground with fundraising ‘year of hell’
A Brixton student is looking to help heal Rwanda’s wounds on the 20th anniversary of the country’s genocide by enduring a fundraising ‘year of hell’.
Hamish Adams-Cairns will complete three marathons, two triathlons, two long-distance bike rides, a Tough Mudder and a Three Peaks Challenge – as well as going teetotal for 2015 to help build Rwanda’s first international cricket ground.
He believes this would bring joy to the African nation as it recovers from its traumatic history.
“It’s so much more than a sport to them – so, so much more,” he told South West Londoner.
“When your country has such a horrific past like that, and has such a tarnished name in some countries, the chance to represent your country in a new and up-and-coming sport is a fantastic achievement.”
He was amazed by the reaction of Rwandans when he first visited the country and taught people cricket in 2011.
He said: “There was such a passion for it – they get so much joy out of the game.
“We just could not believe how many people were up for it, were interested in it and were passionate about it.”
After the genocide cricket was introduced to the country by Indian immigrants and the sport quickly gained popularity.
Due to the poor quality of facilities however Rwandan cricket is stuck in limbo.
The national team spends the majority of their funds travelling as their current ground is rented from a school and is not good enough to host international games.
Hamish described the pitch as being covered in ant hills, with several players being injured due to the uneven surface.
The Rwandan players also play without pads which strongly affects the way in which they learn to play the game.
Despite this, Hamish explained that the players are positive and hopeful, something that continues to amaze him.
“Any joy, any laughs, any smiles or jokes that I see a Rwandan make is a huge testament to their hope,” he said.
He described of playing with people who then shared devastating stories with him, something that he feels is unimaginable in Britain.
He said: “The past 20 years are indescribable and unimaginable for anyone who has lived life over here.”
Hamish is keen to emphasise fun and quirkiness in his fundraising challenge, which he has dubbed the #dareyourselfcampaign.
This has led to a pledge to run the Barcelona Marathon in March dressed in a Borat-style mankini.
He has also decided to go teetotal for 2015, something which he believes could be the biggest challenge.
He said: “It takes a lot to impress people, particularly the young.
“Everyone gets letters saying ‘I’m running a marathon’, but something like going tee-total is so alien!”
He is asking people to ‘donate a pint’, and contribute the cost of their favourite drink to his campaign.
Hamish began his fundraising slog this weekend, when he ran the Florence Marathon.
He hopes to raise the £600,000 needed to build the ground, which will include dormitories for visiting players and two pitches.
The current total is more than £520,000.
To donate to the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, click here.
Black and white picture courtesy of Andrew Parsons, with thanks