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Former British PM in to bat for cricket in Rwanda

David Cameron was at The Oval this week to speak about cricket in his role as patron of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, the charity that is building a cricket ground in Kigali as the country continues to rebuild from the genocide of 1994.

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David Cameron

The new cricket ground in Kigali will help Rwandans catch up on their African rivals on the field but improving a country that plays in the lower echelons of the ICC competitions is only one part of the story.

As Cameron said in his opening address on Wednesday evening there are perpetrators and victims of the genocide playing alongside each other in the Rwandan team. Cricket is a tool for reconciliation.

The RCSF has raised more than £1m (another £150,000 was pledged at the Wednesday night’s dinner) and the ground will be opened in October with a gala cricket weekend featuring Brian Lara and Michael Vaughan.

Later this year the project will be expanded into an initiative called Cricket Builds Hope, which will take cricket to the refugee camps on the Rwandan border with Uganda. For Cameron the project has a personal edge. It is the brainchild of the late Christopher Shale, his former constituency chairman in Oxfordshire, who died in 2011. The project has been taken on by his son Alby, and the ground is close to completion.

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Eric with Joe Root; with the kids at refugee camps and with the Rwandan national cricket team.

“Rwanda is an amazing country. People thought the recovery from the genocide couldn’t possibly happen. But it is a great African success story,” says Cameron. “Some people say aid does not work and African countries do not work, well, if you want a heart warming, uplifting and genuinely inspiring story, then this is a good place to find one.”

Mutoni Jolie

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