A Short but Busy sOccket Stay!
posted by Oli Walsh on 31 July 2009
Hi everyone!
My name is Jessica and I am here visiting WhizzKids United for a whirlwind 2.5 weeks from the US!

I am currently working on a project called the sOccket, a soccer ball that captures the energy of motion to store and charge LEDs and batteries. Marcus and his team were kind enough to invite me and my 6 prototypes here to get some feedback from the many children who go through the WhizzKids program. Next week will see more in-depth surveying as we head to Edendale and Lamontville, but the feedback so far has been positive!

In the few days that I have been here, I have already had the opportunity to do so much.Yesterday, Marcus took myself and Henryk on a road trip up to the Drakensbergs, where we had the chance to vist another NGO. It was a really great chance to see and hear about all their accomplishments.

These past few days have also allowed me to sit in on a number of WKU trainings, all of which have been a blast and really informative for me! I have to admit that I myself almost forgot the importance of having goals -- a no-goals game (or life!) is truly not as fun!

Thus, I′m excited to continue rolling out the project next week -- wish me luck!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Jessica
Vuvuzellas!
posted by Oli Walsh on 24 July 2009
Marcus returned from Australia this week, with really positive feedback about the implementation of our programme in an Aboriginal community, four hours North of Sydney, so another country that WhizzKids is now present in! Watch this space as we continue to roll out our programme, both in South Africa and into new countries!

The highlight of the week however was away from work, the Kaiser Chiefs against free spending Manchester City at the Absa Stadium, perhaps a taster for what it would be like at the World Cup next year. Nine of us went to the game, definitely a different crowd and atmosphere to the rugby games, with the deafening noises of the Vuvuzellas ringing out for the whole game.

When we arrived to sit in our seats, there were people already in them, who would not move! So after talking to stewards and supervisors, we were told they would not move and moved from our seats near the halfway line to behind the goal, next time we need to get there earlier as reserved seating seems to count for very little! The game itself was not that exciting, Manchester City winning 1-0, although the Chiefs had a great chance to equalise at the end, which was missed and was followed by the whole stadium calling for the player to be substituted and throwing items onto the pitch in disgust!!!!

Tonight it is a local rugby derby, Sharks v Bulls!!!
Demonstrations
posted by Oli Walsh on 17 July 2009
This week Marcus has been in Australia so we have been left to run the office!

So on Wednesday we went to Edendale to protest about the long waiting lists for ARV′s at the hospital and to remember those who had died while on the waiting list. We were unsure what to expect; how many people would turn up, would there be lots of police, what would the atmosphere be like, would it end in a riot?!

As it turns out, Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo had addressed a meeting at the hospital on Tuesday night, and promised that more staff would be employed at the hospital and that nurses at Edendale′s 17 feeder clinics would be trained to manage stable patients on ARVs to alleviate the burden on the hospital. So it was more a vigil and remembrance of the people who died and favour swayed in favour of Dhlomo, rather than against him. Henryk even made his own WhizzKids placard to protest (see pictures).

Then on Thursday we ran a tournament at Groutville, in Ilembe, who had been running a series of summer courses using our WKU life skills programme. Despite the predicted rain it was a beautifully sunny day, perfect tournament weather, unless you forget your sun cream! We left the house at 6.55am, arriving at 8am to set up goals for a 9am start. The tournament eventually started at 12, once all the kids arrived and were sorted into their teams. There were a record number of 0-0 draws but Spain ended victorious, probably because they had the biggest kids!!!
Back from holiday
posted by Oli Walsh on 10 July 2009
After two weeks in the UK, this is now my second day back in the office and alot has happened since I was gone!

Paul has disappeared on holiday to Europe for three weeks to coincide with the school holidays here and Marcus is off to Australia today to assist with the launch of our program in Aboriginal communities.

While I was gone, Marcus presented our project at the FIFA Football for Hope Forum in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, alongside UN Aids, with the presentation and workshops receiving positive feedback from all attendees. It was a great chance to meet other network members and important decision makers around the FIFA World Cup, so lets hope some new opportunities arise, both for the expansion of our project into new areas but also some new funding avenues.

We have also been running a holiday camp in Ilembe which Henryk has been overseeing in Paul′s absence, with a tournament next week to celebrate their graduation, It may be the start of tournament season again with six planned in the next few weeks so a chance for volunteers to get out of the office and interact with the kids that we are here to help!

Have a good weekend

Oli
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