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!