Sunday, October 11, 2009
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.