So, I am probably the only volunteer that WKU has had working on its projects who has no idea about football, but that doesn´t seem to be a problem as I am having a great time taking photos, meeting people and travelling around as well as doing some interesting project work.
We have been here for 3 months and we are really enjoying ourselves; we both have our different work to do. Spencer is an accountant and has taken charge of the financial affairs of the charity and I am project managing, teaching a group together with introducing and embedding some quality assurance aspects.
Some of my time is spent teaching and working with a group of young people – showing them how to use digital media to describe their lives. This is now taking off, and they are having fun learning new techniques and skills with the computer and cameras.
Recently the group had fun taking photos at the Coaches Across Continents event; there are now 27 photos on the CAC website all taken by this group. Next week sees us all learning how to use the cameras to make films. The group are all still in school and want to have the opportunity improve their skills, have fun and make new friends. Another aspect of this project is for the young people to encourage others to come to the HA, see their work and to engage with the projects that are offered there.
It was the 5th October 2012 when I arrived at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Since then 12 months have gone and I’m with WhizzKids already for a year. It’s been an amazing time with many memorable highlights.
The last months with WhizzKids United have been very busy. Time flies like the wind and there wasn’t even time to write a few lines for the blog. WhizzKids United is like a never sleeping city – always busy. People are coming and leaving. I’ve worked with 12 different international volunteers in the programme team, and a total of 19 volunteers joined and left our organization. I met some amazing people during my last year with WhizzKids United and it was a pleasure to work with so many passionate people for the aim of a HIV-free young generation in Edendale, Kwa-Zulu Natal and all over South Africa. I really enjoy this intercultural experience, to learn from other people, listen to their stories and understand their culture. It made me more sensitive towards other people and broadened my view of the world.
If I review the last couple of months there are lots of highlights that I’ve experienced. Our tournaments at Sinamuva Primary and Siyahlomula High School in May this year were definitely one of them. For the first time we combined the football tournament with an HCT (HIV Counseling and Testing) campaign. It was very promising and we will continue with it in the future. It was a pleasure to see how much the youth enjoy playing football and how interested they are in the Health Academy and our work.
I was also very happy when we started a new vegetable garden at the Siyahlomula High School which was one of our objectives of the OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) programme. We organize seedlings for some surrounding schools from our partner, Sunshine seedlings, and it was very nice to put together a plan of actions with the students. We planted spring onions, cabbages, cauliflower and beetroot for the school kitchen. Seeing the plants blossom was definitely emotion for me and to see the good work materialize gave me some sort of a good balance compared to my usual office work.
The ground breaking ceremony for the new Football for Hope Center in May this year was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my stay. The whole organization was looking forward to this day and we all worked very hard to make this happen. It was very interesting to see how relieved the people have been that were involved in the whole process of applying, planning and re-planning, preparing and re-preparing. Since May the construction proceeded and we hope to hold the opening ceremony by the beginning of next year. Unfortunately I probably won’t be with WhizzKids anymore by that time.
The most recent highlight was the Coaches across Continents (CAC) visit last week. It was such fun to work with Nick Gates and his colleague Nora Dooley. I really enjoyed being on the football pitch, to work with children and youth, boys and girls and feel the power of football for social impact as well as to improve my own coaching skills. I realized that after my time with WhizzKids I would very much like to continue to use football as a medium for education and empowerment, be in direct contact with the young generation to help them to be “shape their future with their feet”.