October is gonna be exciting
posted by Stefan Kunze on 4 October 2012
Our new volunteers Alex from Barbados (left) and Jonny from Turkey
Our new volunteers Alex from Barbados (left) and Jonny from Turkey

Hi everyone,

It has been a bit calm around WhizzKids United the last month, but does that mean nothing is happening here in Durban and Edendale? Absolutely not! It has been rather calm because I have been in Australia running the Sydney Marathon to raise funds for WKU and everybody else was too busy to post anything on Facebook or write something on this blog. But now I am back and you can be sure to get all the information you deserve.

October is the month when we are celebrating Africaid's 10th birthday and also Marcus' 10th anniversary in Africa. That's right, it has been 10 years since Marcus left London to move to Ghana and further to South Africa. It has been a great journey and more importantly, it has been a life saving journey for thousands of young peope across this beautiful continent. Yesterday, we came together at the Health Academy to start a month of celebration. A month to remember Marcus' and Africaid's great achievements over the last decade. Marcus has plenty of stories to share with you and we will also hear what some of the people have to say, who supported us over the years. But for now, check out our Facebook page for some great photos from yesterday's celebrations at the Health Academy.

October is also a month of change for our organisation - staff changes to be precise. We sadly had to say goodbye to Flo and Johanna last month, who have finished their voluntary services with us. Both had spent eleven months in South Africa. Also Busi left the Health Academy a few weeks ago to move to Durban.

The new head nurse of the Health Academy is Ntokozo. She had been with us before, then moved on to Edendale Hospital and now she is back at the Health Academy. We are more than happy to have her back.

We are also welcoming six (!) new volunteers in October. The first two have already arrived -  Alex Abed from Barbados and Jonny Sasati from Turkey. Both will stay with us until next year. Tomorrow, we are expecting Markus Bensch and Julia Horvath to arrive from Germany. They will stay with us for one year. And later this month we have two new volunteers coming from the UK, Alice Ford and Ben Edwards. We are keeping our team young, fresh and multi-cultural!

You can be sure to hear from all our new staff at some point here on this blog.

Cheers everyone and make sure to celebrate 10 years of Africaid with us - wherever you are in the world.

Running further to save more lives
posted by Stefan Kunze on 26 September 2012
Stefan elated to have finished the Sydney Marathon in 4:15:25
Stefan elated to have finished the Sydney Marathon in 4:15:25

There are two things in the world that make you feel really good. One is achieving a goal for which you have worked very hard. The other is helping kids who need support because they are living in very poor circumstances. Now imagine you can have both feelings at the same time. That is what happened to me.

On 16 September I participated (and finished!) in the Sydney Marathon and raised over ZAR 7000 ($1000 USD) for WhizzKids United and the great work we are doing in Edendale.

Some of you might still remember that I started running marathons last year in Berlin, Germany. Back then I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. I like having these goals in life that help me explore where my limits are and maybe push them a little further. So I participated in Berlin and finished in a decent 4:42 hours, which was okay, seeing that I suffered from a major knee injury before the run. What I didn’t expect then was that running long distance races can be addictive. And so the logical thing to do was, run another one – this time in Sydney, Australia.

Why Sydney? Simply because I was looking for a location I had never been to before. Strangely enough I discovered marathon running as a very interesting way of sightseeing. It is unbelievable how you can explore a city when you run it for 42,195 meters (or several hours). I know some of you may disagree with me on that one and say that the red double-decker buses make you see just as much, but it is just not the same way to experience a place – you would miss out on all the emotions and excitement. So Sydney with its iconic Harbour Bridge and the world famous Opera House made it to the top of my list. I did not regret this choice one single moment!

Like mentioned before, I love challenges. I find they give you more purpose in life. Setting yourself a goal that seems very difficult to reach in the first place, but then working hard and persistently until you achieve you reach it, makes life meaningful.

If you haven’t done it yourself, you will never be able to understand all the emotions you are going through during a marathon race. It already starts during all the months of training that you have to put in. It takes a lot of discipline to stick to your training schedule and even after long working days you have to get on the road and do all the training kilometers (I did just under 900km in preparation for Sydney). Being lazy for one week can set you back so much in your preparations. Neither rain nor heat must be an excuse for skipping a training session. And you have to do this week in and week out.

But the real challenge, of course, comes on the race day. The excitement in the morning was very, very high. Together with thousands of other runners I waited at the starting area, drank another cup of water to make sure the hydration level was just fine, did another warm-up jog and had a chat with my fellow runners, trying to find people with the same target time to form a group. When the long anticipated run started I want to find my rhythm as quickly as possible and make sure not to over-pace the first kilometers, even though my legs were feeling so strong.

I felt awesome on the first kilometers and had a great speed. Easily, I kept up with the pacemakers and the feeling of “nothing can stop me now” started growing in me. That lasted for about 25 kilometers and then came the heat. It is incredible how warm Sydney can become within a few hours, when you approach midday. And with the heat everything changed. My legs got tired, I had to reduce my pace quite a bit and on top of everything the race profile was much more difficult on the second half. Did I mention that I always have the feeling that the last 21km are much longer than the first 21km?

At some point I had forgotten about all the other runners around me. It was just me and the road, trying to run my very own race. And that is where the crazy mix of emotions started. The run became painful and I asked myself why I was doing this to myself – again. Did I expect too much from me? Have I been too ambitious to run a marathon again and to hope for a better time? No, it was not. I knew that I could do it, because I had done this before. And I knew I could do it better than last time, because I had worked harder for this. Despite all the pain that I felt and the slight misery I went through, I always knew that I was going to finish this race in a good time. Giving up never even crossed my mind. (Just imagine all the people’s comments on facebook when you don’t finish it).

I had learnt from Berlin’s marathon a year ago and was able to slow down at the right time and recover while running. After I had adjusted to the warmer temperatures, I was even able to get back to my initial pace and finish the race over 25 minutes faster than I did the previous year – what a great personal success. Even those pesky climbs that the race planners had put in at kilometer 32 and 37 (they should be punished for that) could not stop me.

The last four kilometers were just unbelievable then. I think I never had a bigger smile in my face because I could literally feel the finish line coming closer. And there were all the thousands of supporters on the side of the road that cheered like crazy and gave me that extra push. It felt so good. When I then turned into the Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House shining on the other side, there was no doubt anymore that all the hard work had finally paid off and it was worth all the pain and every single emotion. I must say there are very few places in the world that make a similarly impressive finish like the Sydney Opera House – truly magnificent.

I crossed the finish after 4 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds – a lot faster than 12 months ago. And I am not able to find words than can describe what I felt when I stepped over that line. It was just lifting my arms in victory and smiling nonstop. There were about 2000 runners faster than me (the winner reached the finish about two hours before me), but I still felt like I had just won a gold medal at the Olympics; and I am sure everyone who reached the finish on that day felt exactly like that and deserved it!

At the same time there was this wonderful feeling that with my personal accomplishment I managed to raise money for WhizzKids United and help the kids in South Africa. This makes the whole mission even more worthwhile and I am glad that in a special way all these boys and girls can benefit from my hard work and running as well.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to everybody who has contributed to my fundraising campaign with their donations. Believe me when I say that your support – big or small - does make a difference in kids’ lives and everyone at WhizzKids United is very happy and proud to have committed supporters like you. Thank you very, very much!

Now that it is all over there remains one question for me: What’s next? Where will I run my next marathon? There is certainly no doubt that Sydney has not been the last one – after all I am addicted to running!

PS: If you still want to make your contribution and support my run, please click on the link below where you can make your donation.

Running the Berlin Marathon and want to raise funds for charity? Then join me, become an activist
posted by Stefan Kunze on 31 July 2011
42km to save kids in Africa
42km to save kids in Africa

Hi there

You may not know me but my name is Stefan Kunze.  I am a 28 year old German and I work for an incredible organisation in South Africa called WhizzKids United (WKU) that uses the power of football to help fight HIV and AIDS among young people.  I manage the Programmes Team and get to travel all over the country implementing life saving programmes.  I am truly passionate about this work ...

This year I am running my first marathon, the Berlin Marathon, and will be raising funds for WKU along the way.  We believe that working together we can do more so I am recruiting an international team of citizen activists who are running the Berlin Marathon to help me.  Together I hope that we can raise 4000 Euros.  If I recruit 10 people, that means 400 Euro each.  If I recruit 20 people, that means 200 Euro each.  The more activists join me, the easier it will be to reach our collective target !!!

So how can we do it?  It's actually very easy.  WKU is linked to an online giving page called givengain.com which aims to link activists like us to causes like WKU.  All you have to do is:

  1. Sign up as an activist here: (this takes two minutes and can be done through Facebook)
  2. Follow instructions to complete your profile
  3. To select a project beneficiary, go to the "Projects" tab, search for Africaid WhizzKids United and select it as your cause
  4. Under the "Benficiary Program" heading, select "WhizzKids United - Berlin Marathon"
  5. Fill in the other fields.  Its completely your choice as to how much you would like to raise however as a fundraising team I hope we can collectively raise 4000 Euro, so about 300 - 500 Euro each would be a good number to start with.  Remember, the more activists the less each one of us needs to raise to reach our target !!!
  6. Share your efforts with your friends through social media (facebook, twitter, etc) and ask them to contribute to your cause. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at stefan@africaid.org.za or you can catch me on skype, my name is der_steps.  I will keep you informed every step of the way as we go on this journey together.

Insight into Rustenburg
posted by Stefan Kunze on 25 February 2011
Moeketsi teaching the Life Skills
Moeketsi teaching the Life Skills

Two of our Life Skills trainers in Rustenburg, Elsie and Moeketsi, took some time this week to give you a little insight into their work and tell you about the experience they had with WhizzKids United:

For the first day when we started the programme it was little difficult because it was something new to the learners as well as the teachers. Up until we explained to them that the aim of the programme is to teach life skills compared to football skills. We explained that, the reason why we chose football is because football is understood by many people and it is the game where goals should be set in order to win which in life is to set goals in order to achieve at last. In this manner they began to understand and things started to be easy for both learners, teachers and us as well. Now the programme seems fun and empowering at the same time. Thanks to you guys.

From Elsie and Moeketsi

Karl presents at Sport & Globilisation Conference
posted by Stefan Kunze on 26 April 2010
Karl Hankinson
Karl Hankinson
On the 22nd April, our UK Programme Manager Karl Hankinson was invited at the request of HIV Sport to present a workshop at the ′Sport & Globilisation Conference′ in the North East of England. The conference was an opportunity for individuals and organisations within the area to learn about different approaches to sport and development; and to see how sport can be used as a vehicle for change. The conference aimed to highlight the different ways sport is used in UK projects, and look at how it is being utilised in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Karl said: "It was a good opportunity to bring together different organisations and trade ideas of how we all use sport in our different ways to tackle social issues. There was great interest in Africaid′s work, particularly how the lessons we have learnt in South Africa are now being transferred to worthwhile communities here in the UK. Conferences such as this offer a great platform to raise the profile of the excellent work we are doing out in South Africa."
Website continues to be a great success
posted by Stefan Kunze on 16 April 2010
There are only a few white spots left on the WhizzKids internet map
There are only a few white spots left on the WhizzKids internet map
When we re-designed our Website in 2009 we were hoping, that the website would help us to spread the word about WhizzKids in the world. And thanks to Google and its analysing tools, we now have the approval that the website fulfills its purpose.

Since the launch in November 2009 we had more than 2 500 people coming to www.whizzkidsunited.org and more than 17 000 pages have been viewed.

And the website is a worldwide success: our visitors came from 100 different countries (Slovakia was number 100) or 1069 different cities.

A big thanks you goes to everybody who visits our website and helps to make WhizzKids even more famous all over the globe.

You can also follow us on facebook by joining the WhizzKids United group.
News from the website developer
posted by Stefan Kunze on 31 March 2010
If you visit our website regularly, you might have the feeling that some of the content is missing - and you are right. Our website was attacked by hackers last week for the second time in three months and unfortunately the attackers found a security hole in our database and managed to delete content from our database.
The good news is that we know what they deleted and that we are working on recovering these contents, like news articles, staff profiles and photo galleries. So the website should be good as new very soon.

On another note, we have recently changed our mailing procedure for the newsletter which now only takes us two minutes instead of two days (what a difference). Plus, we will change our newsletter to entirely HTML format in the future. If you should have the feeling that you don′t understand a word... it simply means, that the newsletter will become a lot more user-friendly.

If you wish to send feedback on our website, please feel free to email me at stefan@africaid.org.za.
Happy Birthday Matthias!
posted by Stefan Kunze on 2 December 2009
Matthias Kaspar (24)
Matthias Kaspar (24)
Today is Matthias′ birthday. The entire WhizzKids United team wishes him all the best for his future and an enjoyable time with us, here in Durban. He turns 24 today, but he still looks a lot like 23.

Happy Birthday again to you, Matthias.
Back again
posted by Stefan Kunze on 2 November 2009
Hi everybody,

I am Stefan, the first volunteer who returned to WhizzKids United. As Oli is on his well deserved holidays, I will have the pleasure to write this week′s blog and to share some of my first impressions with you.

I have been with WhizzKids United before. That was in August 2007 for six months and it always was my dream to come back to South Africa since I left in February 2008. And so far, I do not regret that I returned. There was a very warm welcoming for me when I arrived and I really felt that everybody else was just as happy for me to be back as myself.

My job is pretty much the same like in 2007. I am programme coordinator, which means that I work a lot in the field, closely with our trainers and try to keep everything running smoothly at the ground. The big difference compared to 2007 is the change of the working conditions. There is the office now, which allows a far better and more professional working atmosphere than we used to have it in our "dinning room" at Clark Road. Plus there is a lot more staff (at times there was only Marcus and me two years ago) and a very clear structure. I remember Marcus always laughed at me in 2007 when I spoke about the need of better structures and - big surprise - now it came alive. All in all I really like it.

At last, I′d like to add that whoever finds a spelling mistake in my text may keep it!

Cheers
Stefan
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