Kenneth and Conner swapped jersey game at Kyambogo was a hit Right to Play came to lead some games Trevor always plays hard I finally got to meet Kid Ivan just sparks when he plays I had to say good bye to my friend Edgar Time to leave Coach Dean gave his last encouragements Jay and Ruth. It all started with them

Jan 21st was our last day in Uganda. So very quickly the trip was coming to an end. Although I had been exhausted from photographing during the day and editing/filing the images at night, my spirit could not help but pick up when I see the kids. They have so much joy on their faces, especially when they play. On this last day we played at Kyambogo, Ivan’s home turf. It felt like a picnic and party. Tents and BBQ were set up by the field. There was music blaring. Right to Play came to lead some games for all the kids. Of course by today the kids were best friends. They sat together, fooled around, played some really good baseball, and finally, it was time to say good bye. There was a little bit of tears ( mostly the adults… ), but if I had to describe it in one word, I think without a doubt it’s “hope”. The kids are going to be just fine, and I am excited for them for their bright future. Baseball is not the magic bullet to solve all the problems. Nothings is. But through baseball, I see enormous strength and wisdom in these kids. Uganda, Canada, the world. We are in good hands if we create more experiences like this for our future generation. Our kids don’t need us to hold their hands.  They just need the opportunity to go out and play. They are more than capable of figuring things out on their own. More often than not, there are many things we can learn from them. Thank you guys for allowing me the opportunity to be part of this amazing journey. I am very fortunate to be inspired by you all. The sincerity, curiosity, and joy. I am learning, but I hope one day I will be like you guys, always running at full speed with so much joy.

This is the end of my diary for my Uganda trip. Sportsnet also came along to Uganda to make a wonderful TV documentary. It’s airing this Sunday  on Sportsnet at 2pm PST and 5PM EST. Here is a link to the preview: http://righttoplay.akaraisin.com/YouthBaseball. If you are inspired by these kids, please consider donating to Right to Play. 

Sportsnet Magazine is also running an iPad special on this story this month with my photo essay. Here is the link to purchase the magazine on iTunes. 

As part of the Pearl of Africa Baseball Series, the Canadian and the Ugandan teams travel together to a couple of other cities in Uganda to put on baseball clinics and play with the local team. On day 7 of our trip we went to Jinja, the lush and beautiful town known as the origin of the Nile River. It was pretty awe inspiring looking at the river and thinking that spot is probably the beginning of human civilization.. or specie. Pretty powerful stuff.

In Jinja we played with this very good local team coached by a Japanese volunteer Couji-san. Jimmy Rollins also still traveled all the way with us to Jinja. I don’t know if any of the local kids recognized him, but to me it spoke volume of Jimmy’s character when he took the time to approach the local kids and shared his baseball knowledge.

Also I think for a lot of us it was the first time we hear a timeout called by the umpire because a motorcycle was racing through the centre field. After a few friendly innings, the Canadian parents treated everyone with a peanut butter jelly sandwich picnic lunch. I got a kick out of looking at the amazing sandwich assembly line the parents put together. With their teenage sons I am sure they have had plenty of practice.

In all it was another great day filled with baseball, friendship, and laughter. Our time in Uganda was almost coming to an end. We leave Uganda the next day, but we still had one more game to go. I didn’t want it to end.