The excitement that took place at the WhizzKids United Health Academy last Wednesday for World Peace Day still lingers with the staff and children of the Academy. It was truly a day filled with celebration of peace, sportsmanship, and excitement.
Of course, the biggest story from the day that still emanates is the visit from our esteemed guests, the players of our local team, Maritzburg United Football Club. The children at the Academy are still talking about how awesome it was to meet Michael Morton, Kulegani "Chiilies" Madondo, Diyo Sibisi and Peter Peterson as well as coaches Ashwin Sutton and Ronnie Kanalelo. It is clear that the encouragement and advice the children received has been held in high esteem. We hope to have the photo of the children, staff, and Maritzburg United players framed on the wall soon.
All staff at the event also took part in a fun spin on fundraising for the Academy. As directed by Neli, the staff was given the ultimatum to wear the school uniform from a local school, Mthethomsusha Primary School, or pay 5 rand for each article of the uniform not worn. It was a pretty even split for the number of staff that wore uniforms and the number of staff having to pay up. Needless to say, great pictures were taken and a few staff members got mistaken for students skipping school in the morning.
Along with the uniforms, the Academy staff spent the morning in the kitchen baking muffins to sell for 2 rand. The muffins were delicious and sold the minute they left the oven. The kitchen was also busy preparing hot dogs for the children which nearly disappeared as quickly as the muffins.
The day was a great success thanks to the Maritzburg United players, Peace One Day, the children who attended, the staff, and the security. And a special thanks to the rain, our uninvited guest.
I’m sure the day will be talked about for weeks to come or at least until our next celebration- - our Christmas Party on the 8th of December!
September 21st of each year marks the observance of World Peace Day. On this day, it is a celebration of unity, nonviolence and cohesion among nations; thus having intentions of being a ceasefire between disputing parties. Here at WhizzKids United (WKU), we celebrated World Peace Day 2011 in our very own fashion. Nevertheless, Mother Nature had her way of leaving her own mark on the party.
In partnership with Peace One Day, our celebration of World Peace Day served as a way to bring the Edendale community together, further promote the WhizzKids United Health Academy and also endorse the Mixed Gender Football League (MGFL). As children from nearby schools entered the Health Academy, they were all treated to the celebration's opening match: FC Barcelona vs. team WKU. The rain did not show any mercy on the game's participants. But, both teams put on an entertaining display that excited all in attendance.
Although the stronger-bodied WhizzKids United side consisted of Durban office members and Life Skills trainers, they still had their work cut out for them. FC Barcelona is currently the first place team in the MGFL and their precision, passion and chemistry clearly showed how they got there. In spite of a great effort, team WKU were just simply outclassed by the youngsters as FC Barcelona sealed their victory by a score of 3-2. While the game was in progress, the children in attendance were also in for another treat.
To their surprise, members of Maritzburg United Football Club also arrived to join the festivities. The heavy rain was clearly not enough to erase the smiles off the children's faces. Midfielders Michael Morton and Kulegani "Chiilies" Madondo, striker Diyo Sibisi, defender Peter Petersen and coaches Ashwin Sutton and Ronnie Kanalelo were all on hand to greet the children, exchange pleasantries, share stories and motivational tips on dreaming big and working hard. Even with Mother Nature at her worst, the men of Maritzburg United stood their ground and answered questions from an engaged audience.
After being drenched in the rain, Maritzburg United went inside the Health Academy to learn more about its purpose and the background of WKU. Meanwhile, the festivities outside still continued with improptu pick-up games, a singing choir and performances of Indlamu, a traditional Xulu dance. Lastly, the celebration concluded with a beautiful group photo of the children, WhizzKids United and Maritzburg United all soaking in a great day.
Our celebration of World Peace Day was quite memorable, wet but extremely fun. Thank you to all who contributed to make this day amazing. Thank you to the staff of the Health Academy, our Life Skills trainers, Durban office members, Peace One Day and Maritzburg United!
Recently, the WhizzKids United staff received sad news that the daughter of a past volunteer, Charmaine Wheatley, had been tragically killed. Charmaine worked in the WhizzKids United Durban office as the Marketing Director as well as at the Health Academy, mainly organising the arts and crafts activities.
Charmaine was very creative and always thought of new ideas for the kids at the Health Academy to make during arts and crafts. She especially enjoyed helping the kids make cards, like the beautiful Christmas cards they made during the holiday season last year. In remembering Charmaine’s card making, we decided to honor her daughter by making condolence cards to send to Charmaine.
Last week, during the arts and crafts activity time at the Health Academy, the kids created four cards. The cards were decorated with stickers and the kids wrote sympathy messages. As part of their sympathy messages, the kids’ wrote that they hoped Charmaine will “see everything in the sun,” knowing that her daughter’s presence will always be with her.
Charmaine and her daughter are in our thoughts and prayers. On behalf of the entire WhizzKids United staff and kids, we want to send our deepest condolences to Charmaine and her family.
There are not many organisations where your last day on the job can be spent watching talented students present their creative marketing and branding ideas for your organisation.
Luckily, for the last three years, I have worked at WhizzKids United (WKU), an organisation where these experiences are made possible all the time. Today, I saw glimpses of the creativity that has taken us this far, and will continue to drive us forward. It made me very proud and happy.
Over the last two weeks I have had the chance to come to terms with leaving WKU, an organisation I have grown to love and through which I have grown personally and professionally. It has not been easy, but I have so much to be thankful for.
I feel proud to have been part of a small and committed team that has grown from less than five people three years ago to over 20 today. I have been given opportunities and responsibilities that I could not have received anywhere else. Most importantly, I have been given the chance to positively impact the lives of young children. For all of this, I am truly grateful.
To everyone who has contributed to WKU; from volunteers, office and field staff to partners and supporters all over the world, I want to say thank you. Many of you have become close friends and I hope to stay in touch.
I know that WKU will continue to change, adapt and grow; and provide the best possible services to young people in South Africa. WKU will always be in my heart, and I hope to remain closely involved in the future.
Leaving the office today, I leave you with feedback that I just read from a 12-year-old boy who recently completed the Life Skills Programme, "No-one is better than WhizzKids. I love WhizzKids."
This past Sunday, the 11th of September, the WhizzKids United Health Academy staff held an HCT Follow-Up Campaign at Ingqwangele High School in Snathing of the Greater Edendale area. Back on the 21st of May, we held the first HCT Campaign at the school. On the 24th of August, the principal of the school asked me if the WKU Health Academy staff could return and do a three-month repeat of our services from the initial campaign. He even stressed that different members of the community also expressed interest in our return. We were so excited to be invited back that we jumped at the chance to serve our community once again.
On Sunday, Khumza, Mthobisi, Nelly, Nobuhle, Phakamani, Phindile, Prudence, Zanele, and myself from the Health Academy, as well as Mary and Theo from the WhizzKids United office, worked the campaign. We arrived at the school by 10:00 in the morning and prepared the classrooms as our consultation rooms. We moved desks together and set-up stations for testing and counselling and performed the following services: HCT (HIV Counselling and Testing), BP (blood pressure), HGT (blood glucose test), TB screening (Tuberculosis), referrals for MMC (male medical circumcision) and Pap smear.
Our Follow-Up Campaign achieved great results. We tested 30 repeat patients and 20 new patients. The best news was that there were no HIV-positive clients. The Health Academy staff provided health education as well as issued condoms to our clients that came. Our health education was very helpful because many clients want more of our services from the Health Academy such as Pap smear, MMC, HCT, TB screening, and STI (Sexual Transmitted Infection) testing. We even heard requests from clients who would prefer the Health Academy to operate on weekends full-time. Although the Health Academy does not currently operate on weekends, this will be an issue taken into consideration in order to expand our services for the community.
We cannot stress how thankful we are to Ingqwangele High School and the community of Snathing for utilizing our services and inviting us back. We look forward to holding a six month repeat on our services at Ingqwangele in March 2012.
I moved from Canada to South Africa in June 2008 as a fairly naive 24 year old to work for a small charity called WhizzKids United. Of my parents and four siblings, only one had ever been outside of Canada and the USA, so it was rather unprecedented to pick up and move to Africa of all places. However, I felt the need to branch out and do something different with my life. I had also fallen in love with Africa from reading books about it and a four-month trip there the year before.
When I arrived in South Africa I was fresh out of graduate school with little work experience and even less life experience. I would like to say that the past three years have made a man of me. I feel blessed and thankful for all the experiences I've had in Africa: the warm and fascinating people I've gotten to know, the beautiful places I've seen, and the fulfilment that comes with working in the non-profit sector trying to build a better future for youth whose lives are at risk from an epidemic that has already ravaged their parents' generation.
The past three years have also been a period of growth and achievement for WhizzKids United: joining the streetfootballworld network, reaching 20,000 kids with our life skills programme, opening the WhizzKids United Health Academy, winning the Global Sports Forum award as 'Best Sport for Health' project, being endorsed by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace, being awarded a Football for Hope Centre by FIFA. I've been privileged to see all of this achieved by a small and ever-changing but ever-dedicated team of staff and volunteers both local and international.
Whenever I have the chance to visit Canada, family and friends ask when I'm coming home. I usually give an evasive answer because the truth is I have no idea. "Home" is where God needs me to be at any given time, and right now I believe he still needs me to be here in South Africa.
Dr Seidu Korkor a Health Specialist at the Northern Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Services warned in April that the fight against the outbreak of cholera in Ghana would not be won, unless there was multi-sectoral collaboration and commitment.
In response his this call for collaboration to prevent the spread of the cholera outbreak in and around Tamale and prevent further loss of life, WhizzKids United went into action. Under the direction of our Project Manager Mohammed Haruna four priority areas were focused on – Jisonayili, Kanvilli, Gurugu and Dohanayili. These are poorest of the poor areas. Our objectives included cleaning up the waste in these communities, teaching efficient waste management practices and developing a culture of cleanliness and good sanitation amongst young people. In addition, and in support of our larger programme in Ghana staff have also started going door to door in these communities stressing to parents the importance of sending their daughters to school where they can be educated rather than keeping them at home to do chores and feed livestock.
In each of the four communities a two day workshop was hosted for parents, Elders and Chiefs on the prevention of cholera run in partnership with the Department of Health and Zoom Lion Company, a waste management agent, both of who we are very grateful to. Working with the local schools we then set up four WKU ‘health clubs’ to clean up the communities. To date, 1223 youth aged between 11 and 16 have signed up to the project and have begun cleaning up their communities whilst educating their families on basic sanitation and cleanliness. Currently waste is dumped indiscriminately and children and adults defecate openly in rivers, streets and streams causing water contamination.
This has been an excellent example of WKU’s ability to respond to the express health needs of the communities we work with due to the quality and skills of our dedicated staff.
If you would like to help poor people live a better life whilst knowing that every penny you donate is being spent wisely then please go to http://www.justgiving.com/Marcus-McGilvray0 and donate. Much of the money raised by the Mongol Rally will support the expansion of our Clinic in Jisonayili which will act as a training hub for the ‘health clubs’ from where we will disseminate health education and our ‘On the Ball’ life skills programme.
When I was approached to be the matron of the WhizzKids United Health Academy (HA), I was very excited. I already had experience in dealing with youth friendly services. But, I could have never imagined how much of a wonderful time I would have after the clinic's opening on June 1st, 2010.
I shared my dreams, challenges and frustrations with two dynamic CEOs, Marcus and Zanele. If it wasn't for their support, I would not have managed. I remember my first meeting with Marcus. My first instinct was that we are going to work extremely well together. He's friendly and doesn't have to buy a smile because it's just natural for him. Fortunately, my instincts about him were absolutely correct.
I also had the great opportunity to work with an awesome staff. Together, we've changed so many young lives from sadness to happiness. I can write endlessly about everyone's contributions to the HA and dedication to helping children. From our nurses to our social workers to our administrative staff, I can't express enough my gratitude for all of your love, support and hard work.
I also faced many obstacles. Prior to the Academy's opening, I sought young volunteers in the community to work as well as liaised with future donors in order to achieve sustainability for the clinic. I can't speak badly about any of my challenges because they all made me better personally and professionally. For example, if it wasn't for WhizzKids, then I wouldn't have enjoyed the opportunity to speak and promote our cause at the London Youth Clinics earlier this year.
I sincerely enjoyed my time with WhizzKids United because I love children. At first, I never imagined how football could be a tool to educate children. But, after this experience, I could not imagine how we would've helped children without the sport. We have managed as a team to make the HA unique and the first of its kind not only in KwaZulu-Natal but also arguably in South Africa. I am grateful and humbled to have worked for such a great purpose and organization.
In conclusion, let me say that I am proud of all of you at WhizzKids United and I will truly miss you. God bless you all! Please keep all of the programmes and initiatives going including our lovely garden! Also huge thank you to Busi, Ntokzo, Thembile, Tasneem, Gugu, Lauren and everyone for such a great time at WhizzKids United!