On the week of January 17th to the 21st Stefan and I traveled to Rustenburg, in the North West Province. The purpose of our trip was to run a Train-the-trainer workshop with 8 possible candidates to become WhizzKids United Life Skills Trainers. The workshop was not the same as other workshops I have run. This workshop was not focused only on 1 manual but instead it focused on 2 manuals, the 3 session and 8 session manuals. The reason we have trained our Rustenburg Life Skills Trainers on both manuals is so that we can reach our goal of working 3500 children by the end of the school year. While I was running the intense week of training Stefan had his own hectic week. He spent a lot of his time travelling from one school to the next and discussing the WhizzKids United Life Skills program with school Principals, trying to have them accept our offer to work in their schools. Though the week was a stressful and busy week we had some great results at the end! Stefan managed to get 6 commitments from schools, to work over this next school year, as well as trying to develop partnerships with local clinics. The other exciting outcome from our week was that we have a great group of Life Skills Trainers, Lebogang, Buang, Moeketsi, and Elsie, after a very long week of training. Please view their staff profiles on the WKU website. All 4 of them have the skills necessary to be great Life Skills Trainers. A story that exemplified this was when Buang, during lunch one day, decided to begin some icebreakers with about 5 children in the school playground. Within a few seconds the number grew, and before I could turn around again he had about 150 children in a huge circle around him all copying his exact move. It was a motivating sign that he has the experience and knowledge of how to get children involved and keep them smiling! This is just one example of how these four trainers stood out as excellent candidates for the position. Looking back at the week it was a very productive one. We have now expanded the WhizzKids United life skills program, reaching more children, and in the end expanding the knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support through the medium of football to create a HIV free generation.
Recently, South African schools started in the first term of the new year. That means, many hopefully highly motivated kids had to return into the class rooms and had to say goodbye to their lazy days. The relaxing holidays are also over for the WhizzKids United staff and now everybody in the office has quite a busy time, as there are many things which need to be organised and discussed at the beginning of a new school term.
Last week for example, I went on three site visits in the greater Durban area – one to Umlazi and two to Northern eThekwini. In Northern eThekwini I visited our partner MCDI (Medical Care Development International) who funds our programme in that area, as well as the Trenance Park Primary School in order to make final agreements with the Principal so that our Life Skills Trainers Slindile and Phumlani can start their work there as soon as possible.I also drove to Umlazi, which was actually my first site visit I’ve ever done all alone! After I managed to find my way to the township in the South of Durban (without any GPS or Google print-outs!) I met with our Life Skill Trainer Siphelele. He was positively surprised that I already waited for him at the bus stop, where we usually pick him up – well, that is what I call German reliability and punctuality ;-)! Together we went to the primary schools Bashokuhle and Emthethweni to discuss the Life Skills and Peer Education Programme, which will start in the schools this week. Beside the work related talking it is always interesting to have a chat with Siphelele about the Umlazi Township, where he grew up. Do you know, for example, that women in some sections of the township are not allowed to wear trousers (otherwise it is seriously life-threatening!) or that Umlazi is the biggest township in South Africa in terms of area?! No? Well, you live and learn.
For me, being in South Africa is an amazing life time experience and I am very proud to work for WhizzKids United. I am sure, that truly every one of us is very committed and works hard to ensure a successful start of WhizzKids United in the new school term. GO, WHIZZKIDS, GO !!!
My name is Thomas and I am from the city of London with a background in Finance and I shall working as a volunteer for the next three months. I write this towards the end of my first week which has gone by very fast and it been great seeing how WhizzKids work and meeting every one. It's been great coming back to Durban which I visited about 10 years ago and this time coming back trying in some small way help in the fight against HIV. I am a bit older than your average volunteer a have two children my son David who is 26 years old and a daughter Anna who is 22 years old. She is off to another part of Africa next month to also volunteer. Am glad to say that my age has not be a problem and every one been very nice and kind to me. Especially in the volunteer house which I call the Big Brother house as will be having to leave it on Saturday to make way for some new volunteers. It was nice being in the house as was able to meet the others and took them out for dinner when it came to my turn to cook for the week! I told them that will come back in a few weeks and cook for them after taking some lessons.
I was at the Health Academy on Wednesday which is about 70 miles from Durban were I was able to help with the office work and also spend time helping one of the volunteer's with his spreadsheet skills. This I found very rewarding compared to some of the training that I have done in the past in London. Also seeing the children coming into the Academy which was only opened last year with smiles on their faces. It is a great facility with a lot of potential as there is a computer centre with 6 pc's and hope that I will be able to contribute towards some training in the future there. My first week has gone by so quickly that I just hope am able to contribute in a small way as its a fun place and when you see the children going to the Academy it makes it worth while.
Our WhizzKids United staff for the first quarter of 2011 is almost full! Last week we had to say goodbye to our German volunteer Michael. He had to leave WhizzKids United for new tasks beyond the organization. Among other things he was in charge for our Mixed Gender League at our Health Academy in Edendale. WhizzKids United wants to say thank you for your input and your boundless commitment in ‘Delivering excellence in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support to youth worldwide through the medium of football’. We wish you all the best for your coming tasks. We miss you greatly!
In the same breath we welcome our new volunteer Thomas from London, England. He will support the Operations team and share his knowledge of finances and accounting with WhizzKids United for the next three months. We are happy to have you here! Furthermore we expect two new volunteers by the end of next week. We are waiting with great anticipation for Erica and Lauren!
In addition to the coming staff changes everybody looks forward to the start of the new school year on Wednesday. All the staff are working and planning at full speed! In this context our program team is on tour for the next couple of weeks. Tour Stops are Rustenburg, where Stefan and Aled are running a one week workshop with our Life Skills Trainers before Marlen accompanies Stefan for another one week workshop to the Western Cape. Beyond that we have some site visits this week to our partner schools in Umlazi and North Ethekwini on our to-do-list. More over we develop a social media strategy for the organisation. One of our main goals is to increase the number of WhizzKids United supporters around the world through various online platforms. We are always looking for new volunteers, new partners and sponsorships which are necessary to extend our programme. We have been focusing on Facebook and Twitter and provide daily news, pictures and videos about our work in townships, the program itself, football and a lot of more. If you are one interested in our program feel free to join us on Facebook or Twitter, write comment and upload pictures or whatever you want to do.
Our Health Academy in Edendale, is kicking off the New Year with the roll out of a reach out program which will use their volunteers to go to schools to run our 3 Sessions Manual to encourage the students to get tested.
My week this week has been spent travelling to Edendale to train the 5 very competent and motivated volunteers on how to run the WhizzKids United Life Skills program in school and ways to promote the Health Academy within the community. The volunteers will be going out to schools within a 5 Kilometer radius of the WhizzKids United Health Academy to encourage the students to access the youth friendly clinic for its many services, most importantly getting tested and knowing their status.
After this weeks Train-the- trainers workshop and evaluating the volunteers I am very excited to see how the program will be used to impact the community at large. I honestly believe that through the volunteers enthusiasm and continued interest in the material they will do a great job in encouraging the students to access the WhizzKids United Health Academy.
This coming week, Stefan and myself will be heading to Rustenburg for a Train-the-Trainer workshop with potential candidates for our program in school's in Rustenburg.
Aleds, Michaels and my holiday road trip started on the 18th of December in Durban and took us 19 days and more than 3000 kilometres along the coast to Cape Town. Fortunately we explored South Africa by car so we were able to see a lot of this fabulous and colourful country. We stopped in Port St. Jones, Coffee Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Buffalo Bay, Hermanus and Stellenbosch before we finally arrived in Cape Town where we spent one amazing week. We celebrated New Years Eve on the rooftop of our backpackers overlooking downtown Cape Town.
On our journey we drove through beautiful landscapes and small rural towns, stopped at beautiful beaches and saw stunning houses and neighbourhoods. All this has opened my eyes and showed me how huge the gap between poor and rich in this country still is and puts into perspective the work that we are doing. Furthermore I was really surprised by the variety of nature which South Africa offers. On our trip we experienced the diversity of South Africa. We caught some waves in Jeffreys Bay and Coffee Bay. We visited the green and hilly Wine Country, which honestly look pretty similar to the German vineyards. We hiked up to the top of Table Mountain and watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. We explored downtown Cape Town, went shopping, did sightseeing and of course, we got to know Cape Town by night.
All in all, I had an unforgettable journey through a stunning and exciting country. We met a lot of interesting people and spots and I would recommend this trip to any potential WhizzKids United volunteer. Take your time to see the beauty of South Africa. I am very glad that I got the chance to make this trip and I just want to say a big thank you to my two handsome companions and WhizzKids United volunteers, Aled and Michael. It was a pleasure to travel with you and to spend Christmas and New Years together. I definitely had a lot of fun with you guys - lakka bru`s!