Friday, December 11, 2009

FFH Centre is Open!!

Football For Hope Centre

After a crazy, but awesome weekend, the Football For Hope Centre finally opened!! Overall, the weekend went smoothly and was a great success. On Friday, we spent the day watching several GRS activities in action. The FFH Centre Opening took place on Saturday morning and went fabulously. Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, spoke at the opening and participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Sepp Blatter

After the opening, two GRS coaches demonstrated Skillz activities for the crowd. I hung around for a couple more hours to watch Delegation Teams from Khayelitsha, Lesotho, Namibia, Brazil, and Zambia.

Khayelitsha Delegation Team

Aside from working, I've continued to spend a lot of time outdoors, especially as the weather warms up. We spent this past weekend relaxing with the interns from Malawi and Lesotho and I'm leaving tomorrow morning to go to Zimbabwe with three other interns on holiday break. Our tentative plans include flying into Victoria Falls, going on safari in Botswana, rafting on the Zambezi River, spending Christmas in Harare, and spending New Years on the beaches of Mozambique.

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Football For Hope Centre

Quick weekend update. I spent Saturday and Sunday in Harare, Khayelitsha at the Football For Hope Centre. Annie and I held a community meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the upcoming community opening and we spent the afternoon attempting to build tree cages (we gave up after realizing it would be virtually impossible to build the cages without a professional) and painting fences. We worked alongside many local workers and attempted to communicate via hand gestures and broken English. After a long day of manual labor, Annie and I had only managed to apply the first coat to one of many fences, so we returned on Sunday with the rest of my housemates to finish painting the fences. As the November 28th community opening and December 5th official centre opening approach, we will be spending the next couple of weekends in Khayelitsha.

After returning from Khayelitsha, we hosted a welcome braai at our new house. Lots of GRS coworkers attended with their families and we had loads of delicious food. The braai went so well that we are already planning to host a big Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The past two weeks have flown by! Everyone is swamped at work as the December 4-6 weekend approaches. The December weekend is a huge event for FIFA because the World Cup Draw takes place on December 4 in Cape Town. It is also a huge weekend for Grassroot Soccer since we were selected as the Football For Hope (FFH) Centre Host in Khayelitsha. FFH is the main element of a strategic alliance between FIFA and streetfootballworld and it is a movement that uses the power of the game for positive social change. The FFH Movement is a part of FIFA's "20 Centres for 2010" official World Cup campaign.

Most of my time over the next three weeks will be dedicated to preparing for the big weekend. As the final touches come together for the Centre, GRS has started to focus on the logistics for the weekend. I'm spending a lot of time putting together an agenda for several visitors that are coming for the weekend. I've learned that planning events in Cape Town is much more difficult than planning an event in the States!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Table Mountain

We started our hike in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

We hiked up Skeleton's Gorge, a route that has lots of ladders, big rocks, shady trees, and waterfalls.

At the top of Skeleton's Gorge, we reached a sandy reservoir where we set the 10 second timer on the camera and jumped up and down trying to capture a picture of all five of us jumping.
From left to right: Me, Corey, Amy, Phil, and Allen.

View from the top of Table Mountain.

View of Cape Town.

Resting on the top of Table Mountain before hiking down. We originally planned on taking the cable car down the mountain, but it was closed because of the wind.

Hiking down Platteklip, the face of Table Mountain. Although it was tough on everyone's knees, the hike down the mountain was beautiful because we were surrounded by clouds.
I'm going to backtrack a bit and write about a couple events that I have not yet touched upon.

October 9: Heritage Day at GRS Cape Town! South Africans celebrate Heritage Day on September 24 by celebrating the many cultures that are present throughout the country. GRS decided to host its own Heritage Day lunch to share our own traditions and cultural dishes. I decided to be adventurous at lunch and have a taste of everything. This included sheep eyeball, smiley (known as the "tastiest" part of a sheep, smiley is the cheek), tongue (I could feel the tastebuds), intestines (so salty), and hoofs (really chewy). I also ate lots of chocolate buckeyes (made by Elise, a fellow Ohioan), German cake, and Greek goodies (my contribution).

October 10-12: Rocking the Daisies Music Festival with the interns located in Kimberley, Richmond, and Lesotho! We spent the weekend camping and watching amazing music on a wine estate in Darling, about 75 kilometers outside Cape Town. My favorite bands were Freshly Ground, Gang of Instrumentals, Lonesome Dave Ferguson, and Goldfish.

October 13: Finally visited my host family in Grassy Park! I had dinner with Nazeema, Soraya, Juleigha, Tasneem, and Mischka and caught up on everything that happened since I left in April 2008. It was great to see the Valleys and I'm going to do my best to stop by more often.

October 18: I spent seven hours hiking up, around, and down Table Mountain with Allen, Corey, Phil, and Amy. It was my first time hiking the mountain and it was absolutely beautiful. I'll write another post with pictures and more details just now.

This past weekend was much more relaxed. I spent Saturday morning at the Old Biscuit Mill Market catching up with Alyssa, my program director from Projects Abroad and I spent the afternoon surfing with Corey, Amy, and Allen. We got a full night of sleep in preparation for a soccer tournament that we played in on Sunday.

Aside from music festivals, hiking, surfing, and eating, I've been spending lots of time in the office. My workload is picking up and I'm getting involved in several long-term projects, mostly involving the weekend of December 4-6. The World Cup draw takes place on December 4th and the Football For Hope Centre in Khayelitsha is opening on December 5th. Both of these events will have huge media coverage and Grassroot Soccer will have the spotlight for a small part of the weekend. Several GRS Board Members and important GRS friends will be in town for the events and I am helping to prepare for the big weekend.

Table Mountain pictures to come...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Skillz DVD Launch

October 2, 2009 marked the launch of Grassroot Soccer’s first ever Skillz DVD. The DVD was filmed in Khayelitsha, but is delivered to all GRS coaches after they are trained in the GRS curriculum. The DVD featured 21 boys and girls from Khayelitsha and over 150 people attended the premiere party, including all 21 boys and girls featured in the DVD, their family members, the 93 recent Skillz graduates from Impendulo, Skillz coaches, Grassroot Soccer staff, Substance Film crew, local media, and a special appearance by professional soccer star Thabo Mngomeni. Every child who participated in the video got to walk down a red carpet, receive a goody bag, and get their picture taken with Thabo.

Walking down the red carpet at the DVD Launch Party

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend in Kimberley!!

Several other interns and I spent last weekend in Kimberley, a huge diamond mining city. We made the ten hour trek Friday morning and had a fun night on the town with Lindsay, Hooter, and Kristin - the GRS interns stationed in Kimberley - serving as our tour guides. After sleeping for a couple of hours, I woke up to go fly fishing with Hooter, Lindsay, Allen, Taylor, and Corey. It was my first time fly fishing and I was pleasantly surprised by how fun, peaceful, and hard it was. After fishing for a couple of hours (and catching nothing), we left to attend a South Africa versus Madagascar Soccer Game. Although it was a friendly match, it was the first time the South African National team had ever played in Kimberley. The stadium holds about 20,000 fans and was completely packed for the occasion. We spent a little too much time tailgating with the locals so the only seats we could find were standing right behind the Madagascar goal. Minutes after we entered the stadium, Bafana Bafana (term meaning "The Boys, The Boys" in reference to the South African team) had a penalty kick. Unfortunately the Madagascar keeper made a great save and the score remained 0-0 until the second half when South Africa took the lead. The rest of the game was great and the atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

After watching South Africa coast to a 1-0 victory over Madagascar, the ten of us spent the night at Lilydale Lodge. We spent the night braaiing, drinking, and hanging out. I introduced everyone to my favorite desert - toasted marshmallows hollowed out with a splash of Amarula (similar to Baileys). After a short night of sleep, we woke up and walked down to the river for a second round of fly fishing. We had much more success on our second day of fishing - all together, we ended up catching 5 fish (I hooked one, but wasn't able to bring it in). We eventually said goodbye to Hoot, Linds, and Kristin around 2:00 and made it back to Cape Town a little after midnight.  All in all, it was a terrific weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skillz Snap

Since it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted (sorry), I'm going to backtrack to Saturday, September 10 when I spent the day in Khayelitsha working on the Skillz Snap project with Jeff DeCelles, one of my GRS coworkers. Skillz Snap is a pilot project intended to engage Skillz graduates (kids that have gone through the Grassroot Soccer curriculum) in peer outreach activities beyond completion of the Skillz intervention. I was paired with a graduate and a couple of GRS coaches and together we spent two hours interviewing community members on HIV-related themes. 

I spoke with one woman, Grace, for 20 minutes about her sister's 2003 death from AIDS. Grace's stories were really inspiring, but also really difficult to take in because she was so brutally honest and open about tragic events.  Grace spoke about losing her niece to AIDS because her sister did not take the necessary medicine to prevent mother-to-child-transmission. The Skillz Snap pilot went really well so it will be fun to see how it pans out in the future.

Kids in Khayelitsha

Coaches and GRS Interns

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Braai in Khayelitsha!

On the last day of intern training on August 13, all of the interns and the rest of the GRS staff went to Khayelitsha for a braai and soccer tournament. Khayelitsha is the second largest township in South Africa and was formed during Apartheid when blacks were evicted from their properties and forced to relocate on the periphery of towns and cities. Estimates place Khayelitsha's population size at 400,000-1 million people, but there has not been a census since 2005. The township is filled with thousands of tiny shacks that are made of corrugated iron. Although conditions in the township have improved since the end of Apartheid, Khayelitsha continues to struggle with unemployment and poor living conditions. Since many of the Cape Town GRS programs are based in Khayelitsha, I will be spending a good portion of my time in the township. In fact, on Friday I'm going to spend a couple of hours tutoring kids in one of the elementary schools in Khayelitsha and on Saturday I am helping to plant a vegetable garden in the township!



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cape Town

I apologize for not updating sooner, but I have been so busy with training, moving into our new house, and starting work, that I haven't had much free time. I spent my first ten days in Cape Town in intern training with the other 25 interns. Training included many information sessions, a couple of lectures, and a soccer tournament and braai in Khayelitsha, a township right outside Cape Town. When training ended on the 14th, everyone left for their respective sites while the seven of us Cape Town interns moved in. Our house is a block from the ocean and about a mile from the Cape Town World Cup Stadium! It has a great upstairs balcony and is plenty big enough for us to live comfortably.

My job with Grassroot Soccer has been great so far. Although training was informative and helpful, it's nice to actually be putting my skills to work. I'm working in the Operations department with five different bosses, each of whom has a list of projects for me to complete over the year. I'm still getting into the swing of things, but the entire GRS staff is so awesome that I really enjoy going to work everyday! I'll write more specifics about my job as I sort out my year-long projects.

Aside from working long hours, I've been staying quite active. I bought a surfboard last week and have already put it to good use. Three of my roommates and I joined a UCT Club Soccer Team and we'll be playing with them 3-4 nights a week. I've also done a little bit of hiking, but as summer comes and the number of daylight hours increases I'm sure I'll do more. I'm also starting to train for a half marathon that I will run in a couple of months with a bunch of other GRS interns.

Thanks again for your continued support and I promise to post again soon.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Grassroot Soccer and Fundraising

Welcome to my Grassroot Soccer Blog!! This website allows me to share my experience as a GRS intern with everyone. On August 2nd, I leave to spend 12 months in at least one of the nations in which Grassroot Soccer operates – Zambia, South Africa, and Malawi. As a Field Intern, I will be involved with all aspects of the successful delivery of the GRS program – training professional soccer players and other community leaders to use the GRS Curriculum; building relationships with private, non-profit, and governmental organizations; and designing, monitoring, and evaluating program implementation.

GRS is a South Africa-based non-governmental organization that integrates the cross-cultural appeal of soccer with evidence-based HIV prevention and life skills programs that arm African youth with the knowledge, skills, and support to live HIV free. Translating research into action and leveraging the excitement around the 2010 World Cup, GRS attracts and engages African youth through schools, community outreach, and social multimedia. Since 2003, over 270,000 youth in 16 countries have received comprehensive HIV prevention education through programs linked to GRS.

Because this is a volunteer position with a non-profit organization, I will not receive any compensation for my year of service. With the exception of housing, GRS is unable to provide financial assistance or services for its Field Interns. Therefore, I am asking for your support in covering my expenses while I am in Africa. This includes travel to and from Africa, local transportation, food, health insurance, required immunizations and medications, and even everyday items such as toiletries. My fundraising goal to support my 12 months of service is $12,000 and I am growing closer and closer to meeting this goal everyday.

Here are the three easy ways for you to contribute to my year abroad:

1. Mail a check made out to Sarah Bell (with 'Grassroot' in the memo). This will ensure that your donation is easily accessible while I am traveling in Africa.

Send to:
Sarah Bell
2912 Brighton Road
Shaker Heights, OH 44120

2. Mail a check made out to Grassroot Soccer Inc. (*with Sarah Bell in the memo*). This will go to my GRS account. All donations are tax deductible, and you will receive a tax form from the GRS office.

Send to:
Grassroot Soccer, Inc.
PO Box 712
Norwich, VT 05055

3. Use the 'Donate' function found on the upper-righthand side of this website. An easy, secure way to use your credit card that is also tax deductible!

For your records, Grassroot's Soccer's Federal Tax ID number is #43-1957920. If you have any questions please contact Angela Tucker at (802) 649-2900 or