Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A short goodbye to an incredible experience.

To summarize 10 months of memories, unforgettable experiences and inspiration is impossible. I want to however take this opportunity to thank Grassroot Soccer for letting me experience the special work being done in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I’m happy to have had some input in making the site the best it could possibly be. The fight to reduce new HIV infections is a noble one – I hope organizations like GRS continue getting the spotlight they deserve because of the great work they are doing. Thanks to you for supporting  my blog – it has been a pleasure to write about my South African adventure. Thanks to all those who helped me through moral support and the donations that have all made this experience possible. I am humbled. 

Check out my final GRS newsletter, here.

For more info on GRS visit

Finally, thanks for visiting my blog - I appreciate all +3,332 views!

Farewell to Skillz Street

Last week I attended my last few sessions of Skillz Street. After missing the prior week because of torrential rain, it was fantastic to make it back. Our numbers were hovering round 81 girls who all seem to really be loving the program – I have been inspired by the enthusiasm and heart displayed by the girls of Skillz Street! Special mention must go to the coaches that played such an important role in creating the lively atmosphere that exist at Skillz Street. The spirit of the curriculum encourages singing, dancing and tons of fun for the girls – I think we’ve lived up to this, and more. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Port Elizabeth's 1st INSPI(RED) Soccer tournament!

June 16th was a big day for the Port Elizabeth team, after weeks of planning and promotion the it was show time for the INSPI(RED) tournament. We managed to get our minimum goal of 16 teams to participate in the site’s first fund raising tournament. Each team was required to pay R1,000 ($147) for a team of 10 players. The tournament brought together companies from various industries plus some local community teams. All funds raised from the tournament will go to Grassroot Soccer HCT soccer tournaments in the local townships where we do most of our work.

The teams were divided into 4 groups of 4, with the top two making it to the quarter finals and the winners of that round contesting the semi-finals and finally the winners of the semis fighting for top honors in the final. We had some fantastic prizes from Nike, Waltons and FIFA. These proved to be a great incentive to attracting teams and making the tournament worthwhile. The competition was fierce but fair, and teams got a glimpse of the work GRS does by participating in one of our Skillz Activities: “Find The Ball.” In fact each team was paired up with one of our coaches – as a way for them to get a sense of how great our coaches are, and for them to ask any questions they might have concerning GRS.

Lizzy Karoly, a fellow tournament put the tournament together and it was a pleasure to be part of planning and organizing the tournament, particularly considering the fact that this was going to be my last act as a GRS intern. The pictures below will do much better job of capturing the mood on the day than any words I can put down. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Week 2 of Skillz Street

Week two of Skillz Street saw 91 girls making it back excited to continue participating in this exciting new after school program at Molefe primary school in New Brighton township. Skillz Street has drawn girls aged between 10 and 15 from the surrounding community. Tuesday was a particularly rainy day, so we couldn’t play football as normal. Team pictures were the order of the day. 

Every participant in Skillz Street gets what is known as a Skillz Street album, which works as a work book for different sessions. At the end of the program girls get to keep these. On Tuesday I had the task of taking individual and team pictures  of all the girls – each girl would get an individual picture and one with their fellow team mates. Needless to say, the girls were very excited about the picture taking process, some were more into the camera shots than others, but the excitement was universal.  The team photos in the post below are a testament to the spirit and genuine enthusiasm that exists at Skillz Street.

Thursday – After developing pictures the day before, Thursday was when the young ladies received their 2 pictures. Each coach had the task of handing these out to their teams and the joy on the kids’ faces truly warmed my heart. I was happy to be involved in helping create such camaraderie among the girls and the coaches. The main activity for Thursday was Community mapping – an activity where the girls get to use their workbooks. Community mapping involves drawing a basic map of one’s surrounding community with their house in the middle. Coaches came prepared, with examples of their own Community maps to show the girls. As is common with this sort of activity the girls dug into their workbooks – happily drawing, coloring and perfecting their versions of the Community map. Community maps are also designed to help girls identify safe and unsafe places in their community. The overarching message of the activity being that the girls should avoid unsafe places in their community and being aware of safe places  that they can make use of.
A sunny day also meant that we were able to play some football – which the girls were happy to do. It was a special day once again at Skillz Street – watching all female coaches mentoring 91 females was fascinating to observe. One can never put a price on the impact of our programs – today the spirit and the positive vibe at Molefe was tangible. Girls were happy to be there, and coaches seemed aware of the special position they hold in the lives of these young girls – at least at this moment in time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Skillz Street in pictures

Between May 26th and June 25th our team of female coaches will be delivering the Skillz Street curriculum at Molefe primary school in New Brighton township. We meet every Tuesday and Thursday for this unique program exclusively designed for girls aged between 10 and 15. The gallery below will be updated on a weekly basis, reflecting the incredible spirit that exists at Skillz Street Port Elizabeth, enjoy! Click on any of the pictures to start up the gallery.

WordPress plugin

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Skillz Street returns to PE.

Today saw the return of the Skillz Street intervention to Port Elizabeth! After a successfully training 20 coaches in April, we were ready to execute another fun filled set of sessions with girls aged between 10 and 14 from New Brighton township in Port Elizabeth. This all intervention promotes recreational activity among females, as they do not typically get the same opportunities in sport as their male counterparts; it also has a life skills and HIV prevention component because HIV is disproportionally concentrated among girls and women.

We were a bit apprehensive about the number of girls that would attend having sent out 178 invites in the form of consent forms that would go to parents who would then decide whether they would let their kids participate in our program. 100 girls showed up and the excitement in their chatter and participation throughout certainly lifted my spirit after a lot of hard work preparing and making sure this intervention would be memorable and impactful for the young ladies in attendance. All the signs point to this.

Our coaches stepped up to the plate and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the kids - I have a feeling more than 100 girls will show up on Thursday. Below are a few snapshots of Skillz Street Port Elizabeth - this is what we do, and moments like these make it all worth it:

Molefe Primary school will be our host.

Coaches welcome the ladies to Skillz Street.

One of the groups with their coach (10 girls per coach)

Girls from different schools get to know each other through a game of Bingo.

Coaches form bonds with their teams through team time which happens at the beginning and end of the session.

More on Skillz Street to come! Be sure to vote for GRS in the Chase Community Giving Challenge, here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Contextualizing an epidemic

Dr. Hans Rosling is renowned  for his clever interpretation of data through various tools such as Gapminder that help us understand the world better. Here he gives us a clearer picture of AIDS in Africa - a very misunderstood topic. He highlights the various differences in the epidemic around the continent since its its discovery in 1983:

He ultimately supports prevention of new infections of HIV as a means to attacking the epidemic as prevention and care are often out of the reach of many in African countries. Please support GRS and all that we do - every bit of it helps.

Meanwhile you can vote for us on the Chase Community challenge here:

Thank you in advance for your support!


Support the Cause!

Thank you for checking out my blog. I am currently fund raising for an internship experience with Grassroot Soccer starting in August 2010. My goal is to raise $5,000 for living expenses and flights (currently at $4,392). I would appreciate your contribution to the cause!
There was an error in this gadget