From May to September this year I got the chance to work with WhizzKids United (WKU) in South Africa. This gave me the great opportunity to experience the work of a non-profit organisation in a developing country that is working to fight one of the world’s most important challenges, HIV & AIDS.
I supported WKU in various aspects of their work, including running football tournaments, offering some computer training for our Health Academy staff or having an arts & crafts session with the kids. Still, I was mainly involved with marketing, supporting Communications Manager Stefan in organising events, publishing news about our work, the making of a video about WKU or fundraising.
The work at WhizzKids United was very interesting, challenging and rewarding. I was happy that I could share my experiences and knowledge and in return received new insights in a different culture and lifestyle and make again new experiences. And especially working with the kids was amazing. They are facing so many challenges and struggles and still they do not give up and can always spare a smile.
I would like to thank all my colleagues in Durban and at the Health Academy in Edendale for the wonderful time and all the shared moments. It was great meeting and working with you all and I will never forget my time with WKU. Thanks for everything, guys, and keep it up!!!
During the last weeks I had the chance to experience and learn about WhizzKids United’s (WKU) extraordinary work in South Africa. After visiting their Health Academy in Edendale, I joined them for some tournaments in Oakford and Umlazi. It was an amazing experience to see more than 200 boys and girls playing football together and cheering at each other!
But let me introduce myself first: My name is Johanna, I am from Germany and I am currently volunteering in South Africa. Through WhizzKids United I learned about the challenges coming along with the HIV & AIDS epidemic, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, the north-eastern province of the country that is the most affected area worldwide!
Experiencing how the concept of sports and development is put into practice at WhizzKids United, I found that their approach to teach life skills to young people by using the language of football seems really promising. After completing a life skills curriculum at school, the programme ends with a big world-cup style tournament for the kids.
We were really lucky with the weather on all the tournament days – no rain and the South African sun blazing on us. Smaller obstacles, like knee-high grass on the field in Oakford, also couldn’t stop the tournaments to take place. With the help of the school caretakers and the WKU team engaging in some morning gardening activity, the tournament started with only a slight delay and the kids loved it! Tension grew really high during the penalty shootouts (and we had a lot of those that day), especially when keepers had to stand with their back to the striker, only guessing to which corner the shot might be placed!
The Umlazi tournaments showed off an interesting difference between the younger and older students when it comes to the idea of team play. Boys and girls of a local Primary School played really well together in teams and supported each other, whereas in a tournament of High School students, boys dominated the games and gender inequality became somehow obvious. Still, also the Umlazi tournaments were a great experience and the kids and students involved had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, my second visit to Umlazi was somehow spoiled by a car break-in where some belongings of WKU team members were stolen. To me, this was a reminder that organisations like WhizzKids United mainly work in areas, where life is not as easy and safe as where I am from, although I don’t feel insecure or scared when passing through townships or getting in touch with people who live there.
All in all the tournaments were a great experience I will never forget because of the smiles and the joy the students brought with them to the pitch.