On June 18th five students, plus the Head of School (and her husband) from Greens Farms Academy (GFA), an independent school in Westport, Connecticut, arrived in Durban at the invitation of Marcus, ready to volunteer with and learn more about WhizzKids United. Imagined from the very beginning as a service learning trip with the possibility of some kind of partnership between GFA and WhizzKids, the trip has been a life changing experience from the very beginning.
Our first experience was a football tournament in which a number of teams competed while over to one side, WhizzKids staff conducted testing for HIV as well as providing counseling. We were immediately struck by the open and very friendly attitudes of the children, all of whom had multiple questions about the USA and the lives of the GFA students. This was a perfect example of kids connecting with kids across different cultures and life experiences, and the conversations were broadening for all.
For most of the week, the GFA "team" worked alongside the life skills trainers as they worked with students either in their schools or in the Health Academy. We visited schools where WhizzKids and the work they do on several levels offers hope and often a life line to the children. We saw first hand the effect of the program, the importance of the adults connected with WhizzKids who serve as counselors, teachers, and role models and the extraordinary dedication and commitment of all who are involved with WhizzKids.
The week culminated with a football tournament at a rural school where against a backdrop of undulating hills and scattered houses, the students played several games until the best team won. The whole school came out to watch and this seemed a fitting end tour visit, with GFA students helping the WhizzKids staff in an atmosphere of respect and admiration for the work they do and for the students with whom they work.
We are deeply grateful to Marcus and all the WhizzKids staff for their great spirit and for their humanity.
Greens Farms Academy began as an independent day school in 1925 in Westport, Connecticut and has currently close to 700 students from surrounding towns. Janet Hartwell is the Head of School since 2003. Janet 's goal ist to help all students to develop a global perspective.