Thursday, March 25, 2010

Still Alive

Whew, sorry for not writing at all recently. Everything has been really busy and, ironically, I'm too busy to fully bring you up to speed about all the business. Let me give you a bullet point-style breakdown of what's been going on in this neck of the woods, though, so you at least have some idea:

- End of February: Drove from Mtubatuba to Richmond (~13 hrs) to check in on the site and hang out with Anna. Sadly, had to return Chandler, our awesome pickup truck, to the farmer who owns it. Took a bus down to Cape Town for meetings with GRS bigwigs to bring everybody up to speed about progress on the Mtuba project and then rented a new car, packed it full of donated Nike soccer gear to use in KZN, and drove the ~20 hours back out to Mtubatuba. Long haul driving but pretty awesome way to see the country.

- Early March: A couple weeks of pretty unbroken time in Mtubatuba. Kept launching the GRS curriculum in our partner schools and checking in on our coaches. Remember, we just trained these coaches in our curriculum a month ago and many of them just graduated from high school and have zero teaching experience. A big part of what I can offer to this project is basically to make sure they are facilitating well and offer advice about connecting with kids, making the curriculum more fun, and so on. I can't understand a word of isiZulu so content-wise I'm pretty useless, but in any language you can definitely identify whether a coach is facilitating the curriculum well or not. Began coaching for the Mtuba Football Academy, which has been awesome. I really look forward to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays when I help out the head coach of this rural soccer academy coach the 100 kids who participate. I'm in charge of the Under-10 age group...coaching soccer for little kids has to be one of the most rewarding experiences there is. Mtuba Rugby Club pre-season began, initiating what will surely be a long schedule of me getting pulverized by huge Afrikaner farmboys.

- Super recently: A week ago movie star actress Charlize Theron was in town to check out Mpilonhle's programs, which included her touring some of our Grassroot Soccer activities. I guess people probably say this most of the time after meeting celebrities, but she struck me as very normal and friendly. Got to eat lunch with Charlize. Pretty sure the relationship will end there, but will update you guys if anything happens re: a wedding date. Last weekend visited Anna in Richmond to help her with a huge VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) soccer tournament she had organized. I was just a pair of hands on the day and had a blast. Anna did an amazing job organizing the whole thing: had a great soccer tournament, brought the community together, and we tested 179 people (7 of whom were HIV positive). Really cool to be there for that.

- Now: All kinds of stuff to organize with Mpilonhle: supporting 50 coaches, organizing GRS soccer camps during the World Cup, high school soccer leagues, and so on. Going to Johannesburg this weekend for a GRS training with a few colleagues from Mpilonhle. On the schedule: GRS training, hanging out with Soweto intern Karti, and trying not to get stabbed. Next week might go to a big music concert close to Durban with a bunch of the interns. After that the Zululand rugby season is starting and I should have some good war stories to share.

Need to get into town and get to work but will try to write a little more frequently once things settled into more of a routine and I'm not driving thousands of miles.



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