KZN is starting to warm up, the humidity is rising, the rains have begun ... and yet WKU continues at a pace that doesn't and WILL NOT slow! As long as the children of South Africa remain under the threat of HIV/AIDS, WKU will continue to work at providing children with life skills to gain their goals in life and remain HIV negative AND to support their rights to a life in safety and without violence.
Last Friday (October 5th) we celebrated another WKU World Cup Tournament. 192 children who had completed their week long WKU football and life skills course came to the Grand Finale celebration.
The day began with the threat of rain but soon the clouds dissapated and the sun was shining. The WKU team were joined by a number of volunteers from Durban: a group from HPP (HIV Pathogenesis Program), a football player from a local club, a business woman plus our ever reliable group of referees. Without these wonderful people, WKU could never run the day as smoothly and efficiently - AND the kids love the attention and the novelty of having someone from outside of their community to support and cheer for them.
This group of children were particularly enthusiastic - the excitement was palpable! They played with such energy, working as a team to try and score or defend their goals. As soon as school was finished we were joined quite a number of their fellow school mates who cheered loudly for the teams.
The competition was fierce - a number of games were drawn and it fell to penalties. But in the end there can only be one winner. Switzerland (under the management of German coach extraordinaire, Stefan) and Portugal (managed by local football player, Paul) battled for the WKU World Cup in the final with Switzerland recording a resounding victory.
Congratulations must go to ALL the teams and their managers for making the day so much fun! The children went home beaming in their new Africaid Football kits, medals hung proudly round their necks, their school friends congratulating them on their achievment.
The volunteers went home, tired but happy that they played a part in providing a fun and exciting day, that reinforced the motivation to attain life goals and prevent HIV, that we KNOW will not be forgotten!
While Stefan and Hannah were preparing for the Tournament, Marcus and myself were supporting our UK experts who were providing training for the upcoming Teen Clinic. Tomas and Cathy ran a 6 day workshop on counselling techniques which was attended by our WKU trainers and 6 local counsellors.
It was great to have so many along and we all gained from the expertise and local knowledge.
It was particularly wonderful to have such experienced professionals from the UK as WKU is currently working with at least 10 cases of child abuse. Tomas and Cathy provided some onsite counselling for these children and our work with the local Edendale counsellors has given us further referral systems to work with.
It can be so frustrating in these cases - whilst we have reported them to the local Child Protection Authority, the cases take time. There is very little support within the social system and it is mostly handled by NGO's within the community. A Child Rights Bill is going through parliament but with all the social problems within South Africa it is difficult for the government to place a priority on so many things.
You can rest assured that we are continuing to support the children that have been brought to our attention and we are constantly hearing of and working with others. Every child has a right to feel safe, to be protected! Their voice is small but it IS heard and we will make it louder - please help us to make these children heard and to continue to give them hope for a better future