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.
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.
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.
Monday began bright and early with the alarm ringing at 4:15am. The day started with a drive to pick up Siphelele (a Life Skills Trainer) in Umlazi and Zanele (an office employee) near Kwa-Mashu. Then we embarked on a long drive up to Jozini. We made the trip to Jozini to run 2 tournaments in 2 days before returning to Durban for the World AIDS Day Tournament being held at the office.
Monday and Tuesday's tournaments were great learning experiences for not only myself but also Sizwe and Thabane (two Life Skills Trainers from Jozini) as it was their first 2 days of tournaments they had to run with WhizzKids United. It was such a pleasure to travel to Jozini with Siphelele, not only because it was his first time to such a rural area but also because he was able to use his experience in running tournaments to help our Jozini Trainers. After two long days of tournaments and several hundred post-questionnaires completed we made the 4 hour drive back to Durban!
Wednesday, as I am sure you know, was International World AIDS Day! We at WhizzKids United had planned for a World Cup style tournament with some of our partners and also other corporate companies. The event was a fundraiser for WhizzKids United and a great chance to enlighten other companies of the work that we do, but in an enjoyable way! Michael and myself were booted off the WhizzKids Team and ended up playing with an all-girls high school in Durban, called our Lady of Fatima. We represented Portugal, and quickly made Portugal proud. We made it to the semi-finals of the tournament before losing in a hard faught battle to Spain. The day was a huge success and a very enjoyable tournament for everyone who took part but most of all it was a great way to spread the word of HIV/AIDS, and the work we are doing here at WhizzKids United.
After a long day of work on Wednesday and a late night cleaning up after the tournament, Thursday morning started at 4:00am when the alarm rang! Michael and I were on our way back to Jozini to run another tournament all day before driving back to Durban in the evening.The tournament on Thursday was the best tournament I have seen so far!!! The school we were working in , Bhekindoda Primary School, had closed for the day and all the students were out enjoying the tournament that was taking place. The teachers and the other students all got behind their fellow students and cheered England to victory. After a fantastic day of play and over 280 hotdogs handed out to feed the children at the school, we were on our way back to Durban, just in time for dinner!
As I am sure you can tell it has been a really tough week for me, running 4 tournaments in 4 days and travelling over 16 hours this week, I really think I have earned my weekend!
After a short few weeks of fundraising for the Sani Pass Sponsored Hike our challenging trip began at the “Sani Pass Backpackers” at the bottom of the valley, where we left at 5:30 am and set off on a 22 km hike (about 13.6 miles). We walked up from the backpackers to the South African border which is about 15 km in around 3.5 hours. Once we got the stamps in our passports we started heading for the summit, and into Lesotho. After the South African border control we hiked uphill for the next 7 km, about another 3.5 hours and about 1400 m in altitude. The hike was so beautiful up through the Drakensburg but also VERY exhausting for some of us. Especially for Marcus it turned out to be a very hard trip, blisters set in shortly after putting on the never-used hiking boots. He decided to make it even more hard core and walk in flip-flops! He was probably the first one ever, to have reached the top under these tough conditions. However, fortunate enough for us the weather held off and was relatively nice for most of the hike. After what is called the Zig-Zag portion of the hike, which is a very steep part, we finally saw the sign saying "Welcome to Lesotho" – what a relief! For me (Aled) it was a very special moment to cross the border into Lesotho, as this is the country where I was born and it was my first time back to my birthplace, since I left when I was 1 year old.
On the top we stayed one night in a simple backpacker accommodation, which is surrounded by many of the typical round huts where the locals lived. It was very impressive to see how the locals live with only the very basics. It was really a great atmosphere to be in Lesotho but to also be amongst the locals and not surrounded by the tourists that were staying in the lodge nearby. After the long hike and a taste of the local Masuthu beer (Maluti) we relaxed in Africa's Highest Pub and enjoyed the unique landscape outside.
We are all very proud of ourselves, that we made it to the top and managed to raise close to 1000 pounds so far, which can be spent for the benefit of our WhizzKids!
Thank you very much to everyone who opened their wallets to help us through our hike and to allow WhizzKids United to continue to do the great work it does in South Africa and around the world.
Today I was scheduled to go to a township south of Durban called Umlazi. I was getting into the old WhizzKids United Fiat and not realizing that I was getting in on the wrong side of the car, and about to try and drive the car from the passengers seat!! Even though this was not my first time driving on the other side of the road.
After getting into the car and starting it up, a manual car this is, I pulled out and made my way to the office to pick up some papers I needed at the township. Once I was done in the office I hopped back into the Fiat and pulled out of the office, before I knew it there I was driving down the center of Durban and then along the coast, ON THE WRONG ROAD. After about a 15 minute self-guided tour of Durban in the Fiat I finally found the M4 South, and was on my way to pick up one of our Life Skills Trainers. I got to Umlazi fine, and from there on out I was driving that manual Fiat as though I owned it.
The trip was a very successful one, I got the chance to sit in on 3 meetings in 3 different schools about setting up our Life Skills Program at their schools in the coming year. With the 3 schools combined we would be reaching to over 1000 kids! It is really encouraging when you are able to sit there in a Principals office and talk to them about your organization and before you know it, they are asking you when you can start. I also got the chance to watch our Life Skills Trainers (2 of them) teach 3 different classes, which was interesting to see how well they interacted with the children.
On the drive back to Durban while we stopped for some food, a car pulled up behind us. The two women in the car were apparently taking down the WhizzKids United phone number and email address, to try and get WhizzKids United to run programs at their school, which would increase the amount of children we reach in Umlazi by several hundred.
I would say that the trip was a very successful one and it will be interesting to see what comes out of todays meetings.
There I was on Monday afternoon, sitting in the front seat of the car heading past all the game parks and open landscape, on my way to Jozini. This was only a week after I had arrived in Durban to begin my 6 month volunteer experience with WhizzKids United.
Jozini is a town located in Northern KwaZulu Natal Province, in the hills surrounded by open space with goats and cows roaming freely. Jozini is known for the large dam that is below the town itself.
The trip was an extremely successful one, not only in getting to know the programmes better, but also in getting to know the Life Skills Trainers that work for WhizzKids United in Jozini.
While we were in Jozini we managed to get the Pre-Questionnaires completed in two schools with 287 children and successfully setting up our start dates and times for our Life Skills Trainers to begin the Life Skills Programme.
Looking back at the trip, it was a great insight into the work that WhizzKids United does and seeing some of our newer Life Skills Trainers at work. It was interesting to see the attention the programme bought to the other children in the Primary School, and before we knew it the balls that were being used for our Life Skills lessons were being used, on the outskirts of the field, in all the small-sided games that had been arranged by other children. This brought great hope to me! It showed me the power that football (soccer) has in bringing people together, and the interest that children have in this sport. On the trip Paul, Zanele, and I were able to share some of our knowledge on teaching, Life Skills, and children with the staff, which lead to growth even from one day to the next.
While we were in Jozini I had some time to work with the trainers on a one on one basis and assisting them in understanding our Life Skills programme, HIV/AIDS and also a chance for me to learn some Zulu.
The highlight of my trip to Jozini was when one of our Life Skills Trainers needed to borrow a Life Skills Manual. I had mine in the car and went quickly to fetch it for him; upon bringing it back I turned to him and told him “ngiyakuthanda”, which he, and the children responded in a roar of laughter! I told him in Zulu that I loved him.
Soon after that I was back in the car heading back to Durban, repeating my Zulu words in my head, and then rummaging through my pocket to pull out the wrinkled piece of paper that had my “key” Zulu terms on it. The most important being “ngiyakuthanda”!