West Coast Community Foundation (WCCF) is an NGO operating in the West Coast region of South Africa. Over the last two years a partnership between WCCF and Africaid made it possible for the WhizzKids United “On the Ball” programme to be implemented in the West Cape. In an effort to strengthen ties between Africaid and WCCF and ensuring that WhizzKids United remains in the Western Cape; Jeremy Maarman and Lesline Timotheus visited Africaid from 23 – 25 March 2011.
The purpose of the trip was to see how WhizzKids United is implemented in two schools in KwaZulu Natal, since the West Coast programme is currently implemented after school and at youth clubs. We were able to talk to very passionate principals and teachers, but above all we have been very impressed by the efforts of the WhizzKids trainers who displayed such humility and professionalism in their dealings with the young people. We are so proud of these trainers (the one’s we met) and want to congratulate the Africaid team for discovering such passionate and committed young people.
We are now pleased to share that we will continue with WhizzKids United in schools in the West Coast region. A massive thank you to the entire Africaid team for ensuring that our stay in Durban was most enjoyable.
Jeremy and Lesline
The Mixed Gender League at the Health Academy has made a difference in the lives of many of the youth who were part of the league: from players, to supporters, to family and friends. We have 64 children that are part of the league and attend the Health Academy weekly in order to participate in the league and access services. These children act as ambassadors of healthy living in their own schools and are firmly part of the WhizzKids United family.
It was with much sadness that we received a call notifying us about a loss of one members of the MGL. His name was Nkosinathi and he was twelve years old. Nkosinathi had lived with his gogo and sister, as he had already lost both his parents to HIV and AIDS.
The 19th was a very emotional day when we heard that Nkosinathi was killed at his home for a cell phone. He was discovered in an outbuilding toilet by his neighbour. He had been stabbed to death.
The school principal urged all children to attend counselling sessions at the Health Academy as it would be important as part of the healing process. The WhizzKids United staff will continue to offer their support for the community and Nkosinathi’s family.
May his soul rest in peace.
This blog entry is written by Sophie Tepler, 9th Grade. Sophie visited South Africa and WhizzKids United together with her father Isidore Teplar in March 2010. Isidore Teplar is one of our supporters from the United States of America.
During last year’s spring break, I traveled with my dad to South Africa. Dr. Bruce Walker, director of the Institute for AIDS Research at Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital, invited us to spend time with him and his collaborators in South Africa. Our base was in Durban on the east coast. I had the great privilege to interact full time, for more than a week, with the extraordinary people that are trying to fight the illness and poverty that plague South Africa. More than half of the world’s HIV/AIDS population lives in Africa, 63% of whom are children. In South Africa only 10% of people with AIDS are receiving life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
There are three programs in particular that have taken creative approaches to deal with this daunting situation. The first is located at an AIDS and TB ward at Edendale hospital, which is often called the “ground zero” of the South African AIDS epidemic because it is the largest government treatment site.. 90% of people hospitalized at Edendale have TB and AIDS and only about 40% will survive their hospitalization. At Edendale, in addition to traditional doctors they are using “TB warriors” to combat the spread of disease. These “warriors” have no formal medical training but they know a sick person when they see one, so they identify and “fast track” the sickest patients amongst the hundreds of people that come to the hospital clinic each day. A major breakthrough was when local traditional healers were integrated into the system. These healers are trusted in the community and speak Zulu. They have been given certification to be AIDS/TB counselors, and they bring the sick people in the townships to the hospital. All of these strategies: the use of Zulu counselors, the outreach programs, the use of triage warriors, were thought up by iTeach – Integration of TB Education and Care for HIV/AIDS. Two remarkable women run the program: Krista Dong, an American trained doctor from our neighbor town of Wilton, CT, and Zinlhe Tabethe, born in Durban.
Africaid Whizzkids United: uses soccer as a metaphor to teach life skills and health lessons. In soccer, just like in life, you need to set goals and make a plan, and have the motivation to carry it out. You need to pick the right teammates. All of these are important to win in soccer but also to succeed in life. Soccer is the most important sport in South Africa, and it was the site of the last World Cup Tournament just two months after our visit. The Africaid Whizzkids counselors visited the public schools of KZN once a week, at the end of their classes. These kids are at the beginning of adolescence when, of course, risk of catching AIDS is just beginning The kids debate very frank subjects such as: whose responsibility it is to make sure contraception is used; or whether boys can have 2 girlfriends, but not the reverse. The girls debated at least as fiercely as the boys- I was proud of them! And of course, we played some great soccer!
CAPRISA – Center for AIDS Program of Research In South Africa funds on–the-ground projects, rather than laboratory research. Its headquarters is at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, where we met with the co-director of the program, and, Mendesa, whose grant proposal had just been funded. Mandesa’s proposal was to set up a learning and counseling center for AIDS Orphans at the site of her mother’s home and burial ground. Even after apartheid ended, the newly elected black leaders of South Africa denied that AIDS was a problem in their country. At an official conference where the President of South Africa was meeting with another Head of State, Mandesa’s mother publicly announced that she had AIDS. When she returned to her township, she was stoned to death. Mandesa had to run away to Johannesburg and was raised by a pastor and his wife and was now returning to the townships of Kwazulu Natal to carry out her mission. We visited AIDS orphans in what look like regular homes with women who act like regular moms to these babies.. At the Lamontville township you can see the bare-bones shelters that people live in. I volunteered at the regular school taught in English, and visited the Sunday school where Bible skits were translated into Zulu for the preschool kids, who had not yet learned English in school.
This trip was, for me, an amazing, life-changing experience. After growing up in Fairfield County, my exposure to this other world of poverty and sub-standard health-care was initially very difficult and shocking , but I feel that I am still absorbing these experiences whenever I think back on them. Knowing there are so many creative and caring people working on these problems gives me great optimism for the future. I now truly understand why young people like me, who have had it so good in life, should aspire to help the less fortunate in a different part of the world. Our lives will be enriched at least as much as those of the people we are helping and befriending
This week on the Program teams list we made a site visit to Edendale to see our staff perform the Life Skills Program with the students at Kwa Pata High School. This was the first time I had been to see our newest Life Skills trainer, Nellie, running the program in front of the learners. While watching the trainers perform I was very encouraged to see how well our trainer team was working together, it was a heart warming sign to see Nathi, our more experienced Life Skills Trainer, take Nellie under his wing and really try his best to train her to reach the required level. Before the sessions Nathi made sure to review the upcoming session with Nellie, and then allowed her to take the lead role in front of the children. She did just that! Nellie did an outstanding job presenting the session on “Knowing your Position” to the students. Her enthusiasm and passion for the material covered was reflected in the student’s attentiveness.
It is always refreshing to visit a program area and see how a trainer can take the information and training provided and take ownership of the material. I am confident in saying that Nellie is on her way to becoming a fantastic Life Skills Trainer for us here at WhizzKids United.
Not only was Nellie outstanding for our visit but we also had a visitor from the Department of Education who came to observe a session. I honestly believe that it was a strong reflection of the interest the students have, and the impact that the program has on many of these students lives. I am sure good things will come from the visit from the Department of Education visit, but also from our trainer team in Edendale who continue to have a positive impact, through football, on the youth in their community.
Finally our Life Skills trainer Phumlani Stan has his personal blog section on our WhizzKids United website! In Phumlani`s Playbook he will provide news and stories about his work and his experiences as a Life Skills trainer in Northern eThekwini every second week. Phumlani joined the WhizzKids United team in November 2010. Since then he and his co-worker Slindile have run our Life Skills programme successfully in the schools in the area of Northern eThekwini. One of the determining factors for Phumlani`s Playbook was that he is intrigued by writing and filming as well as interested in photography. Due to this he will also get the opportunity to visualize his experiences and bring them together into a video blog. Phumlani`s Playbook will give you a detailed and personal insight in the everyday work of one of our Life Skills trainers. All I can say is we are excited about this new intiative, so don’t miss his first blog release in the beginning of next week!
I am Lindokuhle Phewa - a Life Skills Trainer for WhizzKids United. I am working in Northern eThekwini since November 2010 and the best thing about my job is that I can have a positive impact on other people's life.
Seeing young people transforming daily from being someone without a clear vision of what they want to do in life to someone who have goals and determination of achieving them - that's really what motivates me as a Life Skills Trainer! During the December holidays I started teaching the WhizzKids programme to children and straight from the beginning I had the feeling that they were happy to get to know something about life skills and football basics.
At the beginning of 2011, I struggled in establishing a partnership with a school because the first term in a year is always very stressful for school principals and teachers. But when Hambanathi Higher Primary School accepted the WhizzKids programme at their school, I believe that this is the best thing that ever happened to the community of Hambanathi. Hambanathi is a township known for bad things such as crime, alcohol and drug abuse. By implementing the WhizzKids programme we will help the kids a lot because it will make them to see a more hopeful side of life which is often missing for them. Even though there are some challenges which will come across (e.g. the football ground is a bit further away from the school), we have a very good support from the teachers.
I just hope and pray that everything will go alright with the Life Skills Programme at Hambanathi Primary School and that the kids will learn something important for the rest of their lives.
This week will be completely different to my everyday work over the last 4 month and I am excited about these new experiences I will gain. Today, an American film team is coming in town to shoot a documentary about WhizzKids United or rather about our Life Skills programme in Lamontville. WhizzKids United, Grassroots Soccer and the Peres Centre for Hope are all organizations that will be featured in this documentary called Changing the Game. Shilpi and her crew will accompany two young girls, Zime and Siphumelele by running our Life Skills programme in a group of twenty children in the Lamontville. Both girls participated in the FIFA Football for Hope Festival last year and represented the South African team. Our Life Skills trainer Sithule worked twice a week with the girls to teach them how to utilize the 6 session manual and to become an advanced Peer Educator.
Yesterday Paul and I visited the venue in Lamontville and watched their final practical-run through of Session 1 before the kids start attending today. Beyond that we briefed the kids about the activities that will take place in the next week and tried to take their fear off the camera and the film crew by encouraging them and telling them that this documentary goes to Hollywood or at least it will shown on international film festivals. Finally we handed out kits for each player and the delicious peanut butter sandwiches ensured even more motivation and honestly how couldn’t you be motivated now? The kids showed us their gratefulness in their own language by singing and dancing in their new outfits. Everything is well-prepared though kids and trainers can’t wait to become international film stars!
In addition to the incidents in Lamontville I will accompany Stefan to a WhizzKids presentation on Thursday at the Vega brand communications School in Durban in front of a bunch of graphic and media design students. WhizzKids United is part of a course of the students. To gain practical experiences they have to have to deal with real clients. We already had a meeting with the lecturers on Monday to see what is possible and in which direction the students might go, so that we have a win-win situation in the end. In this regard eighteen students will work individually on a sub page for our website on the WhizzKids United Health Academy. In the end we will have eighteen different versions and designs and maybe one will hit the spot and the taste of our management team and get launched. It’s a strange and also a funny feeling for me to be on the other side now and try to make clear which expectations WhizzKids United has. It’s only one year ago that I was sitting in these courses and working on “real projects for real clients”. Anyway I am really looking forward to this week and the final results either projects!
So, it has been a few weeks since I arrived at WhizzKids and I have definately started to get into the swing of things! I have begun working as the liaison between the WKU Health Academy and the Durban office. This has been great because I am able to visit the staff at the WKU Health Academy at least once a week so we can talk through ideas or issues, which ensures that everyone in both areas are on the same page, which is obviously essential for an organisation like ours. Plus I love going to the Health Academy because everyone is friendly and happy and the environment is so welcoming, it makes me realise why children always go back there for the services provided, because they are treated with respect and warmth, and I believe that is one of the most important elements to the WKU Health Academy.
A great piece of news from the WKU Health Academy is that a few of the staff went on a computer course in order to learn Microsoft Office to a high level, and the best thing was that every one of them passed with a 1st class, which according to the course administrators has never happened before! The staff have also begun drum majorettes for the girls and boys who are not as interested in playing football, this is fantastic as I have already seen a big increase in children attending the WKU Health Academy and using the services there thanks to the new activities they can become involved in.
We are also in the process of co-ordinating our involvement in the national HIV, Counselling, and Testing (HCT) programme. This takes a great deal of organisation and time but will certainly be worth it in the end as the final goal is to test 322,000 in the uMgungundlovu district of KwaZulu-Natal in 2011. This will mean, through our involvement, a great deal more children and young people attending the WKU Health Academy in order to receive their treatments and counselling, and as the WKU Health Academy is able to provide such a safe and non-discriminatory environment, this can only be a good thing.
I have also been working on fundraising proposals which is hard work but again, will be worth it in the end! I attended my first corporate breakfast yesterday (well the first in which I haven't been one of the waiting staff!) which was interesting and very worthwhile in terms of networking.
So things have been pretty much go go go since I have arrived which is great, tiring, but great! I definately feel like one of the WhizzKids family and can't wait to see the work I am doing come to fruition.
Social media has quickly become a growing marketing tool for the business world. We also recognized that these useful gifts play a big part in marketing nowadays. Social media marketing gives WhizzKids United the opportunity to extend our international network, to spread out our mission in the world and maybe the most important fact for us as a nonprofit organization, to market WhizzKids United for free or rather on a low budget. According to that I did a social media introduction workshop with our trainers last week. Because not only the Marketing Director and the Media and Event Coordinator should know the advantages and chances of social media but also WKU staff and in particular our Life Skills trainers should at least have an overview about the possibilities. Our trainers work with the kids in the schools, so they are present when the change happens which means they beat the whole office team in telling the best stories! All these success stories are just waiting to be told!! In this regard I gave the really interested group of trainers a short introduction on our Social media workaday life or rather in “You-Bloggin-Twitt-Face”. WhizzKids United's work features on different platforms mainly on facebook, twitter, youtube and of course on our WhizzKids United website. Beside the daily updates we feed our online community with polls as well as with pictures and videos about our work in the townships, the programme itself, football and a lot more. Now our trainers got an impression of the social media work we do and of the importance they play by presenting WhizzKids United from different points of view. I am convinced that one or the other trainer will share their sweeping stories, pictures and videos in the near future with you I am already looking forward to these days. If you are a WhizzKids follower on facebook and twitter you will definitely be informed about current actions!