Sunday, October 11, 2009


Thought I should include a picture of the group after we went Bungee Jumping! Yes, Sarah went bungee jumping, shocking, I know. This is picture of the four of us with Fergus, the other guy who jumped with us and our bungee crew. We jumped off at a place called Bloukrans, the world's highest bungee jump off a bridge. We jumped at 216m, equivalent to the height of the Met Life building in New York! Craziness. Never again, but quite the rush!

Braai with the Coaches

This weekend we had a “Braai” (BBQ) with all forty of the coaches at our house. It was really exciting to have them over in a non work setting, but I don’t think any of us realized how many people forty truly is! It was a little bit chaotic, but a lot of fun, and great to spend time getting to know all of the coaches outside of a work setting. There was lots of incredible food that they cooked for us, as well as lots of dancing and playing games. I don’t think I have ever met forty people as loud and crazy as these coaches-when they all come into the office everything stops because they are so ridiculously loud, yelling and dancing around, it’s hysterical, but easy to max out on it after awhile. If you think that I am loud, you have not seen ANYTHING! The four of us pretty much stop working once they all roll in for meetings and sessions on Fridays, because there really is no way to get anything done with them all here. Certainly a really different work dynamic, but I have grown to love it, and I miss the coaches when they are not in the office, because they bring so much fun and good energy to the office. It’s nice to get to joke around and laugh with them to break you from the stress and hectic office environment.

So, after a busy week, it’s nice to have a bit of a relaxing, rainy Sunday to relax and catch up on things before work begins again tomorrow. This week will be another busy one, preparing for an evaluation we have of some coaches in two weeks, and this week the coaches are going through psycho-social and basic counseling training, so there will be a fair amount of things going on in the office.

I hope you all are doing well and enjoying baseball playoffs, the start of the NFL season and all the other great things that fall has to offer in the states! Thank you again for all the love and support, it’s so great to hear from you all!

This is a photograph of me at the holiday camp with some Motherwell Coaches: Lavista, Sindi, Nikza, V.I.P, Spakes, Voete and Mhama. It has been great to get so close to all of them, they are teaching me so much.

Holiday Program

Last week was quite the hectic week, as we ran holiday camps in all three of the townships that we work in. These camps, sponsored by Castrol, were a great way to keep kids active and off the streets during one of their school holidays. The idea was to recruit students from each township through local soccer and netball coaches, as well as teachers in the township schools. The students were given four hours per day to play games and participate in our curriculum. By the end of the week, students who attended camp every day were given Certificates proving that they had graduated through our Skillz Curriculum, just like their peers in school, which is the area that we normally target.

The week of the holiday program was really hectic, but also a lot of fun. We only had one car to get us between three sites, as Rosie was at a Training of new coaches in a town a few hours northeast of Port Elizabeth. It made for quite a lot of driving and waiting in between sites, but we worked it all out. Our car was packed with mini goals, coaches and supplies as we darted in between the three sites every day.

We also were lucky enough to have Bill Miles, our COO, and a Norwich resident, in town visiting with his family. It was great to see them and catch up on things in the Upper Valley, as well as in Cape Town. Also, two Cape Town interns were up for the week: Phil, who works with Bill, was around to help us out for the week and observe the camps, and Corey went to the Training of Coaches with Rosie. It was great to see other interns and show them around PE, as we are really proud of the city and the places that we work.

Siya, my supervisor who has taken me under his wing training me in all things Programs, was at the Training of Coaches for the week as well, so a lot of responsibility was placed on me, which was both exciting and overwhelming! It was pretty cool to be the only GRS worker at the camps, besides the coaches. It made me feel like the office really trusted me, and that gave me more confidence to step it up. Because the camp was sponsored by Castrol, there was a lot of extra work that had to be done, taking pictures, interviewing kids, observing and taking data, so the week was exhausting, but rewarding. It meant so much to me when I spoke with kids and they talked about the impact that the camp had on their life, and what it had taught them. It kept kids out of trouble, even for a few hours, and taught them a great deal of valuable information about themselves, HIV/AIDs and respecting others. Getting to be out, in the field for the entire week watching the coaches work also gave me much more respect for them as people and for what they do. The work that they do is truly amazing. They inspire and motivate children in ways that I have never seen before. It’s funny, sometimes the coaches just look like quiet, average people, and once they are in front of a group of children, they light it up and are completely different people.

Working at the camp really made me appreciate Grassroot Soccer and the amazing work that is being done by the organization across southern Africa. If this is happening in one site, I cannot imagine what great work is being done across all sites. Working in the NGO world, you get to see a lot of other NGOs and talk with people who work for them, so you begin to realize how much GRS really has their act together, and what we are doing is light years beyond many of the other partner NGOs that we work with.

After an exhausting week for everyone, the PE crew along with Corey and Phil, the two Cape Town interns visiting for the week, went up to Hogsback, a mountain town about two hours away. It was beautiful, and reminded me so much of Vermont. We saw pictures of it in the fall and winter and it looked just like New England. It was cool to go on a long hike and explore the town, I definitely want to go back there. A great, relaxed atmosphere, and it was so nice to get away after our busy week.

Now that the camps are over, the office has been hectic collecting all the data from the camps: the quizzes we give the kids before and after the camp, (which helps us to see how much the kids are learning), as well as the focus groups we have to run with campers(participants) and the coaches, about what went well, what we need to work on, and any feedback that they have. The work is never done! Things are really starting to pick up in the office, and I think from here on out we are going to be really busy. There is a lot of exciting work being done, so I am pumped to get started with more projects. All of the interns as well as the assistant site coordinators have a lot of ideas and side projects, as well as the day to day work, so things are certainly picking up.

Friday, October 9, 2009

This is a group photograph taken at Tsitsikamma, a gorgeous national park that we went to for a weekend.