My journey to Qatar began with a flight from Pietermaritzburg on the 12th January before a 9 hour wait at Johannesburg for my second flight to Dubai. Upon arrival the following day, I met a friend from Los Angeles who welcomed me as a foreigner despite the fact that she is not from Dubai either. Once in Doha, I realised that I had been travelling with 3 other participants who were going to the same conference, but we did not talk until we met at the shuttle which was there to pick us up. It turned out that because of my long first and last name, they had thought that I was two separate people so I ended up travelling in the car on my own.
I was welcomed by Christian who showed me to my room. I did not know a single person at this point but I had high hopes of making friends with other members of the conference because I am an open person. I didn’t have to wait long as I met a very welcoming girl during dinner called Iren from Zambia who I had remembered seeing at the airport. Afterwards, we had tour around Aspire which is a beautiful place with a nice view. On the Monday morning, we went to a class where we had to introduce ourselves. By then, I had already made four friends who were from Ghana, Sierra Leone and my roommate from Egypt. We were introduced to volleyball by five sporting icons; starting with some theory before the practical sessions after lunch. The food was delicious and this can be seen in my skin as a result of eating so healthily.
We went on a sand dune excursion on the fourth day in the desert where I also had the opportunity to have my first swimming lesson in the ocean which was fantastic. Basketball sessions began the following day and I really enjoyed it as it was my first experience of the sport. Other activities were boxing, judo, table tennis and swimming classes every afternoon before dinner. Playing such a variety of sports showed me that I am multi- talented as it was if I had I played them all before. It also gave me the opportunity to meet Fobbs who works in community relations and Steve who is a junior coach at Liverpool FC. The coaches had brought a gift for every participant at the conference which was also amazing.
During the conference, we took part in activities that allowed us to experience what it is like for people with disabilities who take part in sport. It encouraged me to think more outside of the box; not to feel shame for disabled people and treat them in the same way as people without disabilities. It was a dream come true to be out of the country and learn more about health initiatives practiced through sport and to socialise with people from all over the world who come from different backgrounds.
Two days before returning home, I took part in a talent event where all of us wore traditional clothing from our home countries. We shared stories, spoke about our different cultures and taught each other native dances, songs and we even discussed some of our beliefs. It was such an amazing and peaceful evening and I experienced a strong feeling of unity between everyone as if we were all part of one giant nation.
My flight from Dubai was delayed which meant that I missed the connecting flight back to Pietermaritzburg which very upsetting, but I was booked into a room at a hotel in Johannesburg before finally arriving home the following morning.
What an experience! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I cannot wait to start using my new skills and knowledge with youth in Edendale who are facing different obstacles in their lives.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
In our blog we will introduce the wide range of services and activities that are being offered at our Health Academy. Every week one of the WKU team members gives you an insight into why the Health Academy is so popular and successful in Edendale.
This choir consists of eleven members and most of them are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). They are multi talented because they split themselves to other services we render like Zulu dance, drama and choir as they do all.
They are so passionate about their choir; they don’t even wait for the master to remind them about the days and times of practice. We practice on Tuesday s and Friday afternoon at 15:00 till 16:30. Our aim is to praise, release stress feel free from their issues
Since the beginning of this year, we got five members who want join the family as we had eleven members now there’ll be sixteen. It pleases me to see the numbers increasing and the high dedication, talent and encouragement everybody shares.
The singing brings joy, peace and faith in their mind and soul and you can see joy written on their faces. They don't even stop singing on their way back home. We have even composed our very own songs about the Health Academy.
However, there are some challenges that we face. We have only two boys in our choir and we would like to bring more for tenor and bass. And most of the kids in the choir are from very disadvantaged families. The choir helps to give them some hope in their lives, but we would like to do so much more for them. Our programme for OVC helps already a lot and we are always trying to find you new ways.
I am very happy with the choir; it is such a joy to work with those young talented singers. And I am especially happy about the two boys who joined us.
Our staff at the WhizzKids United Health Academy have become entrepreneurs in our efforts to fund the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programme, specifically the OVC Feeding Scheme. The aim of the OVC Feeding Scheme is to provide healthy, fresh meals to the OVCs registered at the Health Academy. Through the OVC Feeding Scheme, the children are able to access our services and participate in the recreational activities fully nourished. It also encourages them to regularly come to the Health Academy, as well as invite friends.
The OVC Feeding Scheme was a huge success last year when we were fully funded. Daily, we cooked healthy meals with fresh ingredients for about 50-70 OVCs. The OVCs attendance number increased and the children learned about proper nutrition. Unfortunately, during the past few months we have been faced with the challenge of a lack of funding and a few months ago we were unable to provide daily meals. Recently our innovative staff created an effective way to sustain the OVC Feeding Scheme until we secure more funding.
The idea began on 21 September 2011, World Peace Day. We determined that the World Peace Day Event at the Health Academy would be a great opportunity to fundraise for the OVCs Programme. As we mentioned in a previous blog, we baked delicious muffins and sold them for 2 Rand. The muffins were a huge success and we decided to continue baking and selling.
Since World Peace Day, we have baked 24-48 muffins most days of the week and sold them to staff, visitors, and friends. Part of the profit is used to buy more muffin baking supplies, while the majority of it is used to purchase food for the OVC Feeding Scheme. Although our profit is only enough to purchase rice and beans, we are still happy to be able to continue feeding our OVCs.
We will continue seeking future funding for better, fresh, more nutritious meals. Until we do, we will continue baking. So if you are in the Edendale area, come by and try one of our delicious muffins- - chocolate or vanilla. Buy a muffin and support the OVC programme!
My name is Nelisiwe Phoswa (or Neli), I am 22 years old and live in Imbali near Pietermaritzburg. I matriculated in 2006 from Fundokuhle Secondary School where I was also a gospel choir member which led on to me singing with the Soung of Salutation Junior Choir. Originally I wanted to become a nurse, however unfortunately financial issues mean that this is not possible yet, but it also means that I took a different path and ended up working for WhizzKids United! Throughout 2010 and 2011 I have been given amazing opportunities by WhizzKids. I trained as a Life Skills Trainer, learnt Business Studies, and achieved my Computer Literacy Certificate. I started as a volunteer at the Health Academy, working hard for 6 months, and thanks to my hard work I am now a full-time paid Life Skills Trainer.
I work in partnership with Nathi in KwaPata High School in Edendale. I really enjoy working at the High School because they have a much better understanding of the language of life and most of them have experienced some of what we are talking about. I also feel I have made friends with the kids but it is still unusual to be respected and called 'Miss'!
I feel that I do still have certain weaknesses, such as being too sympathetic, however my strengths lie in the fact that I am down-to-earth, always open-minded, and willing to listen. Being part of the WhizzKids team has helped me to develop as an individual, particularly as I now a trained Lay Counsellor following a course in February with ATICC. As a Counsellor and trainer I have to link these duties together and work on my weaknesses in order that I can work even more effectively with the children I teach.
After working at the school in the mornings I go to the Health Academy where I have the chance to use my singing skills and teach a gospel choir and Zulu dance classes which I formed earlier this year, I also have extra help from Zanele Thabethe when I am unable to attend.
My main duty though is to give information about HIV Prevention using Soccer, for example, playing in the field without a goalkeeper is similar to having sex without a condom. This term Nathi and I finished working with KwaPata Grade 9's and next term we will be starting with the Grade 10's. I would like to take the opportunity to say farewell to my Grade 9's and to hope that you will use the information and always 'Think on your feet, not on your back'!