You may not know me but my name is Stefan Kunze. I am a 28 year old German and I work for an incredible organisation in South Africa called WhizzKids United (WKU) that uses the power of football to help fight HIV and AIDS among young people. I manage the Programmes Team and get to travel all over the country implementing life saving programmes. I am truly passionate about this work ...
This year I am running my first marathon, the Berlin Marathon, and will be raising funds for WKU along the way. We believe that working together we can do more so I am recruiting an international team of citizen activists who are running the Berlin Marathon to help me. Together I hope that we can raise 4000 Euros. If I recruit 10 people, that means 400 Euro each. If I recruit 20 people, that means 200 Euro each. The more activists join me, the easier it will be to reach our collective target !!!
So how can we do it? It's actually very easy. WKU is linked to an online giving page called givengain.com which aims to link activists like us to causes like WKU. All you have to do is:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can catch me on skype, my name is der_steps. I will keep you informed every step of the way as we go on this journey together.
On July 23rd, our CEO Marcus McGilvray and friend Anthony "Danny" Coxhead began the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile excursion from the United Kingdom to Mongolia. The purpose of this journey is to raise funds and awareness for WhizzKids United. Yet, in this long travel, Marcus and Danny will have to encounter five mountain ranges, three deserts and a numberless amount of obstacles before reaching the finish line.
For their first week on the road, Marcus was able to communicate with the staff via email about his daily whereabouts and observations. Please read along as we present a collection of Marcus' insights from the first week of the 2011 Mongol Rally:
I've just seen on the news that buying cheap locally distilled vodka can be dangerous to your health and lead to blindness. As I said to Danny as we packed the car for Mongolia this morning that news is a bit late.
Made the first 150 miles to Goodwood - practically broke the back of this rally! Got two chips on the windscreen but no fish!
Of the 200 odd cars taking part in the Mongol Rally we ended up being second to last on the grid. Driving much of the night and day at a steady 55mph (saving on fuel!) we've now reached Colditz in Germany! It looks closed though so we might be the first Brits ever to break in!
After a long night of sensory deprivation and torture, due to Danny's snoring, I feel I can empathise with the boys who were held captive at Colditz Castle!!
Danny and I have made some rules for our Rally. No driving over 60 MPH (keep fuel use down) and no motorway driving as this defeats the spirit of adventure and ensures we find every cobbled street in Europe! (As per the picture taken just inside Austria). We met our first dodgy police yesterday in Czech Republic. At a crash scene one policeman waved us on but the next one pulled us over and issued us with a 2,000 Czech Koruna fine. He then offered us a special discount and bonus - bringing it down to 200!
Reached the border of slovenia and about to push on through! The route: England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Rep, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Kazhakstan, Mongolia!
What a long night sleeping by the roadside in Croatia. I slept across the front two seats with my legs poking out of the window. They were wet in the morning - it had rained! Now driving on to Serbia where we're starting to feel the heat. The car is like an oven. Nothing to what the Gobi desert will be like!
If you are interested in donating to this courageous cause, then please visit Marcus' justgiving page for further details.
From the 18th to 21st July 2011 I was able to attend the CHIVA (Children's HIV Association) workshops on Youth Friendly Services in both Durban and Pietermaritzburg on behalf of WhizzKids United. All days were well attended which meant that I was able to meet various different people who work in a similar profession to myself.
In Pietermaritzburg, Dr Neil McKerrow (Chief specialist and Head of Paediatrics and Child Health in Pitermaritzburg Metropolitan Hospital) took charge, whilst in Durban Dr Kimesh Naidoo (Principal Paediatrician at King Edward VII Hospital) welcomed us. The rest of the days were very similar in content and therefore I was able to run a Youth Empowerment Skills session for various different people every day of the workshop. The other topics covered included, 'Talking to adolescents' by Fiona Makia (Senior Clinical Research Nurse), 'Sexual Health for Adolescents' by Dr Eve Jongmann, 'Taking a Sexual History' and 'Family-based Action Plans'.
During my presentation I was able to fully engage the audience in the WhizzKids United Programme. I ensured that everyone knew about the history of Africaid as well as the WhizzKids United Health Academy and the services we offer. I also explained how WhizzKids were able to incentivise attendance to the Health Academy through football with our Mixed Gender League, as well as our other growing list of recreational activities.
The workshop was incredibly interesting for me as I had a very active audience that was keen to learning more about WhizzKids United and the topics I was covering. They were all asking questions and wanted to know how we started and how we managed youth as they are generally seen as the difficult members of the community. With the help of my colleagues we managed to solve their queries and gave them chances to give feedback, ask questions when they didn't understand and give clarifications.
Hospitals and clinics that were hearing about Youth Friendly Facilities for the first time gave their Action Plans and promised to go back to their own facilities to initiate Youth Friendly Services. They will then give the report to both their Managers and WhizzKids United in order that we can work in partnership with as many as possible to ensure the adolescents we service are able to gain the best service possible.
Waking up at 5:45AM is never my ideal way to start the day. When I look out my window and see that I beat the sun in even rising, it's a battle that I never enjoy winning. Groggily stepping out of bed, each step is a challenge as I put on my clothes, brush my teeth and grab my traditional AM meal of muffins and a banana. Still not feeling truly awake, my mind is serenading my body with Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song" in hopes of returning me to bed. Yet, as my colleagues and I all pack into the car, I began to realize that sleep will have to wait. The reason being that we have over 150 kids ready to participate in our World Cup-styled, mixed-gender soccer tournament.
On July 21st, WhizzKids United hosted our very own tournament for the ninth grade class of KwaPata Secondary School. Located in Edendale, South Africa, the purpose of our tournament was to congratulate and reward children who completed our "On the Ball" Life Skills programme. Our Life Skills programme is a sixteen hour curriculum that uses soccer as an analogy for reinforcing sexual health education and making positive life choices. For example, a drill of handling a ball around cones is not only an effective soccer practice on control but also a life lesson on knowing your opponent and overcoming obstacles. With likeminded drills in place and great trainers to lead the way, the children of KwaPata excelled in our program with flying colors and were more than ready to showcase their skills on the field.
The children were broken up into a total of 32 teams. Each team consisted of three boys and three girls and represented a country that participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Once the teams were established, Nathi, our tournament manager and Life Skills trainer, explained that the games were self-refereed by the teams themselves. Nevertheless, every game must be operated under FIFA Fair Play rules, a system that encourages a friendly game strictly without cheating or fighting. As an extra incentive, similar to how FIFA works, the player or team who demonstrated outstanding behavior during the day would be awarded with our Fair Play Award. After the kids received the rules of the tournament, it was time to begin the games.
My role for the tournament was to serve as a field manager for four teams. But, as soon as the ball dropped, these kids made me a fan rather than an extra official. All of the children played the game beautifully. Despite their young age and still-developing bodies, the ninth graders of KwaPata successfully emulated the moves of global stars such as Wayne Rooney, Marta, Leo Messi and Abby Wambach. Each team featured players that possessed incredible speed and precision that I could only obtain in my dreams. Watching the angles at how they attack and kick the ball, I was constantly amazed at their skills; thus often yelling in excitement and giving high-fives as if I was participating in the games as well.
As the tournament drew to a close, one team did arise among their peers en route to the championship. In dominating fashion, team South Africa shut out team Paraguay with a score of 3-0. Opponents and peers alike were so excited that team South Africa could perform astonishingly well and represent their home country proudly. In addition, team England won the Fair Play Award for displaying great sportsmanship throughout the tournament. The tournament was a successful event as children were able to compete among their friends yet play in a fun environment promoting the game of soccer, the importance of health and life.
Driving back home, I couldn't help but to finally fall back asleep. Even the excitement that Adele's "Someone Like You" drew from my colleagues wasn't enough to prevent me from falling into a passenger-seat slumber. However, I was extremely happy to participate in an event where we were able to give back by providing an event for children. The best memory of the event was watching the pure competitiveness from all the teams yet still witnessing excellent sportsmanship displayed by all members. With this memory and images of various goals scored all day, I kept my eyelids closed as it was sleep well deserved.
'There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children' - Nelson Mandela
On 18th July 2011 Nelson Mandela turned 93 years old, in honour of the father of a nation, WhizzKids United, along with many others, spent 67 minutes celebrating his 67 years of fighting for the rights of humanity. The idea is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good.
As a member of Sport for Social Change KZN, WhizzKids United offered their support to Mandela with the revival of our Mixed Gender Football League at the WhizzKids United Health Academy. In our inaugural Mixed Gender Football League, 62 out of 64 participants received HIV counseling and testing services as well as life skills training courtesy of the Health Academy. With the return of our Mixed Gender Football League, our purpose is to continue promoting the Health Academy as a center for sexual health and reproductive services while standing as a firm advocate for gender equality.
Prior to the first game, the staff played a Mixed Gender Football game against some of the kids who regularly visit the Health Academy, whilst the staff put in a good show, the children won the game pretty convincingly with a final scoreline of 3-1!
Following this game all 48 children involved in the new Mixed Gender Football League joined in a few rousing choruses of 'Happy Birthday' in both English and Zulu, led by our Life Skills Trainer and Choir Master, Neli, along with a dance across the football pitch. The highly-anticipated first game got underway at 4pm between 'Liverpool' and 'Chelsea' and whilst the Mixed Gender Football League will continue for another 8 weeks, WhizzKids United ensured that all the children involved were able to gain extra special treatment on Mandela day, enjoying food and music and an electrifying atmosphere!
It was a great day and on behalf of all of WhizzKids I would like to wish Nelson Mandela a fantastic birthday and we look forward to many more Mandela Days!
'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world' - Nelson Mandela
I’m used to this by now. This feeling of leaving behind the well known. Walking away from the comforts of your home, your family and your friends. I’m familiar with the duty and emotion of saying goodbye to people you love and things you cherish. I have constantly been down that road of transitioning into your new place of employment and residency. My family calls me awe-inspiring and daring. My friends call me brave and courageous. Although I am experienced with moving to new places and accepting new challenges, the difficulty of the process is never easy.
My name is Theo Mitchell and I am the new Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Africaid's WhizzKids United (WKU). Based in Durban, South Africa, WhizzKids United is a charitable organization that teaches children HIV and AIDS prevention by using soccer as a medium of communication. To fulfill this objective, this organization produces life skill workshops and health academies that are accompanied by soccer games, tournaments and mixed gender leagues to reinforce the lessons. My role with the NGO will be to enhance WKU's online marketing and social media presence as well as the marketing plan for the health academies.
I'll never forget the day I accepted this volunteer position. It was April 19th, 2011. Nine days after turning 26 years old. Literally, four weeks before completing my Master's program at New York University and graduating at the illustrious Yankee Stadium. I remember feeling proud yet incredibly nervous. I remember calling my mother to tell her the news. I was confident in the decision yet a little unsettled about financial challenges and being far from home again. In my mind, I kept asking myself the same question all day. How can I accept a job that fits my strengths and ambitions but can also add financial burdens and even more distance away from my family?
Before enrolling at New York University, I was an English instructor in Naruto, Tokushima, Japan. For two years, I would rotate daily among eighteen elementary schools teaching classes as a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. The opportunity was amazing because it provided me the opportunity to work and live abroad for the first time. Plus, I accomplished goals that I only thought you could obtain at a much older age. I truly built a global network, learned personal financial management and received extraordinary life lessons that goes beyond any office or classroom. Once I remembered these gifts, they simply outweighed any worry I possessed about my decision, WKU or moving again to a foreign country.
As I write this entry, the clock says that I have less than four hours before I can officially announce the completion of my first week at WhizzKids. Yet, the journey from April 19th to now has been undoubtedly rewarding. First, I have been blessed with an outpouring of love from family and friends. While fundraising in preparation for my move, my family and friends tremendously donated to my cause; thus raising over $5,000USD towards my plane ticket and the ability to handle daily circumstances in Durban. Secondly, I have been warmly welcomed by an uniquely global staff. The beauty of WKU is not only working beside great people for an important social cause but also working with those who care just as strongly about professional development. I am beyond fortunate to work alongside people who truly wants to help you and has your best interest at heart.
I am definitely excited by what this job has in store. Yes, it will be tough and I have already found myself a little overwhelmed at some points this week. But, I am ready for this position. Dealing with anything new is never as simple as you wish. But, at the same time, unchartered territories and new horizons can often bring so many unforeseen benefits that will serve you greatly in life. In addition, I always take pride in coming back home and showing my family and friends all of what I've newly learned, which is the best part of moving away and taking on challenges.
On Wednesday last week the Health Academy were lucky enough to be visited by Sfiso Mtolo and Dumisa Zondi from KwaZulu-Natal YMCA. They were visiting to conduct a workshop with our staff in order that we could learn how to start and run a Support Group, particularly for the adolescents who are registered with us and are HIV positive, but also in the future so that we will be able to provide Support Groups for the wider community and families of the children who access our services.
Dumisa and Sfiso have vast experience in community development, and particularly the HIV and AIDS field and therefore we were very grateful for them taking the time to visit us.
The workshop covered all aspects of Support Groups, such as:
- How to start a good Support Group
- How do we sustain our Support Group
- Challenges that we will face
- Different types of Support Groups
- The rules that must be obeyed in order to ensure the Support Groups run effectively and confidentiality remains.
We will continue with these workshops this week. I am extremely grateful as I feel I have learnt a lot and I believe Support Groups will really enhance the work that we do at the Health Academy, so I am very glad that we will have these services available for the kids.
My name is Nelisiwe Phoswa (or Neli), I am 22 years old and live in Imbali near Pietermaritzburg. I matriculated in 2006 from Fundokuhle Secondary School where I was also a gospel choir member which led on to me singing with the Soung of Salutation Junior Choir. Originally I wanted to become a nurse, however unfortunately financial issues mean that this is not possible yet, but it also means that I took a different path and ended up working for WhizzKids United! Throughout 2010 and 2011 I have been given amazing opportunities by WhizzKids. I trained as a Life Skills Trainer, learnt Business Studies, and achieved my Computer Literacy Certificate. I started as a volunteer at the Health Academy, working hard for 6 months, and thanks to my hard work I am now a full-time paid Life Skills Trainer.
I work in partnership with Nathi in KwaPata High School in Edendale. I really enjoy working at the High School because they have a much better understanding of the language of life and most of them have experienced some of what we are talking about. I also feel I have made friends with the kids but it is still unusual to be respected and called 'Miss'!
I feel that I do still have certain weaknesses, such as being too sympathetic, however my strengths lie in the fact that I am down-to-earth, always open-minded, and willing to listen. Being part of the WhizzKids team has helped me to develop as an individual, particularly as I now a trained Lay Counsellor following a course in February with ATICC. As a Counsellor and trainer I have to link these duties together and work on my weaknesses in order that I can work even more effectively with the children I teach.
After working at the school in the mornings I go to the Health Academy where I have the chance to use my singing skills and teach a gospel choir and Zulu dance classes which I formed earlier this year, I also have extra help from Zanele Thabethe when I am unable to attend.
My main duty though is to give information about HIV Prevention using Soccer, for example, playing in the field without a goalkeeper is similar to having sex without a condom. This term Nathi and I finished working with KwaPata Grade 9's and next term we will be starting with the Grade 10's. I would like to take the opportunity to say farewell to my Grade 9's and to hope that you will use the information and always 'Think on your feet, not on your back'!