After my first office week my German Volunteer colleagues (Marlen and Micheal) and I got the chance to support Stefan and our Life Skills Trainer Siphelele with our Tournament for the Emthethweni Primary School in one of the biggest Townships close to Durban, called Umlazi. It was the first time for us visiting a township and we were shocked about the dimensions. According to Wikipedia Umlazi is home for more than 500.000 people who live in very poor conditions. Moreover I was surprised by the warmth and the joy of the children. After each goal the kids started singing and dancing. I will never forget the moment when I stood in a crowd of kids and all were singing the South African anthem and different Zulu songs. For me, it’s hard to imagine that German kids of this age would react as they did.
On Wednesday we ran the tournament only for Grades five and six. More than 200 children joined the fun and each of them was extremely motivated and ambitious to win the World Cup! We counted the children and split them into 32 teams, but that is not as easy as you think! For this amount of young kids you have to be well organized and you need a good connection to kids. But because of that I was very fascinated with Siphelele’s relaxed and sensitive way while working with the kids. At the end of the tournament Greece was the lucky winner and able to take the World Cup home. On this day North Korea received the silver medal and team Algeria was chosen for the Fair Play trophy.
The first problem we had to deal with on the next morning was the weather. As so often in recent days it was raining so that the principal called the tournament for the children of seventh grade off. But after a weather check and an assessment of the field we convinced the principal to run the tournament. Wise decision, it stayed dry! Team USA beat Nigeria and team Serbia was able to take the Fair Play trophy home. All in all we ran two successful tournaments in Umlazi. I enjoyed the time with the kids and I think the children had also a great time. Afterwards I can say that the tournament in Umlazi was a great experience and I am very grateful that WhizzKids United gave me the opportunity to gain these unforgettable experiences!
Last Thusday I left my parents and friends in Germany for my adventure South Africa, a 6-month voluntary placement for WhizzKids United. After my 5 hour Stop-over in Dubai and the 9 hour flight to Durban I arrived at my new home. I was very exhausted and also quite excited to meet my new roommates. They greeted me warmly and I felt immediately at home.
My first days in the office were very interesting, because I got a detailed insight into the work of WhizzKids United and into the different projects they work on. And of course I got an introduction to my potential role in the team. I will be the Media and Event Coordinator! It’s a completely new task and a challenge for me, but I will do my best to contribute to the success of WKU!
I chose WKU because I am convinced of the idea to deliver effective HIV prevention through the medium of football and on the other hand I want to improve my English skills and see as much as possible from this beautiful country South Africa. I am looking forward to my time with WhizzKids and to all the upcoming tasks and challenges. I am pretty sure that the next 6 month will be very exciting and instructive for me!
After a short few weeks of fundraising for the Sani Pass Sponsored Hike our challenging trip began at the “Sani Pass Backpackers” at the bottom of the valley, where we left at 5:30 am and set off on a 22 km hike (about 13.6 miles). We walked up from the backpackers to the South African border which is about 15 km in around 3.5 hours. Once we got the stamps in our passports we started heading for the summit, and into Lesotho. After the South African border control we hiked uphill for the next 7 km, about another 3.5 hours and about 1400 m in altitude. The hike was so beautiful up through the Drakensburg but also VERY exhausting for some of us. Especially for Marcus it turned out to be a very hard trip, blisters set in shortly after putting on the never-used hiking boots. He decided to make it even more hard core and walk in flip-flops! He was probably the first one ever, to have reached the top under these tough conditions. However, fortunate enough for us the weather held off and was relatively nice for most of the hike. After what is called the Zig-Zag portion of the hike, which is a very steep part, we finally saw the sign saying "Welcome to Lesotho" – what a relief! For me (Aled) it was a very special moment to cross the border into Lesotho, as this is the country where I was born and it was my first time back to my birthplace, since I left when I was 1 year old.
On the top we stayed one night in a simple backpacker accommodation, which is surrounded by many of the typical round huts where the locals lived. It was very impressive to see how the locals live with only the very basics. It was really a great atmosphere to be in Lesotho but to also be amongst the locals and not surrounded by the tourists that were staying in the lodge nearby. After the long hike and a taste of the local Masuthu beer (Maluti) we relaxed in Africa's Highest Pub and enjoyed the unique landscape outside.
We are all very proud of ourselves, that we made it to the top and managed to raise close to 1000 pounds so far, which can be spent for the benefit of our WhizzKids!
Thank you very much to everyone who opened their wallets to help us through our hike and to allow WhizzKids United to continue to do the great work it does in South Africa and around the world.