2013 has somewhat been a great year for Vuselela. We have been involved in 3 amazing community projects which makes it the most number of projects we’ve ever done in a single year. This has not been easy though, we’ve faced a fair number of challenges along the way but we’ve managed to the best of our ability…
We were born and raised in Gugulethu, “iGugu lethu” which is Xhosa for “Our Pride”. From what we saw through our own eyes it wasn’t the same Gugulethu that we had grown up in. It was falling apart because of gangsterism and drug related issues. We had an idea of starting our own organization and we would call it “Vuselela Sports and Life skills”, “Vuselela” means “Revive”, so that is what we would do revive sports and life skills in our schools.
We wanted to change the lives of more than 10 000 kids, aged from 5yrs – 13yrs, in our community which is overwhelmed by gangsterism, teenage pregnancies and drugs. Our idea was simple but needed some optimism, we wanted to combat these challenges. We saw what a bit of life-skills and sport can do for a person, we are living proof of that. Even the greatest man, Dr Nelson Mandela played sport. He said that sport had the power to change the world…
Implememting COOL TO BE ME
We believe that this is how you build a better human being, someone who has strong morals, self-belief, strong values and a positive self-image. We believe that when you have these characteristics, you become a better person, someone who takes responsibility for their actions. We want to create a community that is determined and resilient.
Our first project is the “COOL TO BE ME” program which we do with the primary schools here in Gugulethu. We have been involved in this program for 4 years now, thanks to Wings Of Support. This is a life-skills program that deals more with your self-image and the life choices that one has to make. Other N.G.O.’s focus on a particular cause e.g. HIV/AIDS, gangsterism etc. Whereas we focus on the first steps you make before deciding to have sexual intercourse or joining a gang. We spend 12 weeks at a single school in which we do 12 lessons. And at the end they should have a sense of knowing who they really are without the fancy clothing and expensive material things.
Every lesson is intense and has a serious life-skills message in it. In some lessons we do role playing which the kids absolutely love and their favorite is the Auction game. The teachers feel that this program is doing wonders for the kids and they see instant results inside and outside the classroom. They see the kids opening up in class, beginning to take their places in life! They say this program helps develop the child’s self-belief and self-image. The kids love every moment we spend with them and the key to this is us being ourselves and the way the program was designed by Lindy Bruce. Most of the kids here see us as role-models which is a big ask but one that we have been longing for and we’re loving it. Now we get to set the tone in life..!
We started writing exams now, which we do at the end of the program, to see how much information they actually took in.
Cool week – bringing all COOL TO BE ME schools together
Our second project is “Cool week” which is basically one week where we bring all the CTBM schools together to a single venue and have them playing all sorts of games with each other.
The thinking behind this initiative was to bring all 4 sections of Gugulethu together. Gangsters operate within their sections meaning there are four different gangs. So if we had a school from section 1 playing with, not against, a school from section 3 and section 2 playing with section 4 we would get a situation whereby kids around Gugulethu would walk freely within Gugulethu because of the friendships that were built at “Cool week”. The kids would simply learn to respect each other and realize that no matter how different they think they are, they still love doing the same things, they laugh at the same things and they want to achieve the same things in life! It has a really powerful message when you watch it come together… It completes us!
At “Cool week” the kids got to participate in 6 different activities which were soccer, netball, cricket, cross-country, quiz and role playing. All we can say is we saw the next Steven Seagals and the next Cristiano Ronaldos of this world! The kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were very grateful for the opportunity to mingle. The headmasters of the participating schools thought the idea was brilliant and that we should do it the following year as well.
This was our first “Cool week” week and it has worked like a charm! We really feel that this will close the gap between the sections of Gugulethu and by that eliminate gangsterism.
Playing sport to succeed in life
And our third project is a pilot project, which we are piloting at a school called Luzuko Primary school. This is a very exciting project as it involves mass participation, starting from grade R through to grade 7. This was our vision, to see every child participating in a single sport activity.
Study shows that when a kid grows up playing sports he/she has a better chance of succeeding in life, the lessons they learn on the fields can never be taught any better off it! They learn about discipline, overcoming disappointments, teamwork and understanding that in life you lose some and you win some… An active mind is a healthy mind! Kids are involved in physical education during school hours, none of the schools in Gugulethu have Physical Education, so that is why this project is so important for the future of the schools in our community. Kids also part take in extra-mural sports after school in cricket, rugby, netball and soccer, which is the first of its kind. This will create a platform to identify sporting talent that can be nurtured and developed from an early age.
We couldn’t have done this without the help of our three coaches who have worked extremely hard in getting this project on its feet. They coach on a Monday to Friday schedule, from 9am through till 4pm, without them this project wouldn’t be possible.
Ever since we started, the attendance rate at the school has improved. The teachers gave us a feedback that nobody wanted to miss school because they wanted to be involved in the all the activities that the coaches do… The school has a very active vibe due to the fact that they have sports teams that practice regularly after school. The greatest thing about this project as a whole has been the support from all the parents and teachers!
Our vision is to roll it out to all 12 primary schools in Gugulethu. We have coaches who are committed to the other schools but we are looking for funders who will believe in our vision and support our organization!
We have been very lucky to have the support of the Wings Of Support team and for that we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts, if only they knew what kind of impact they are making in our community and country as a whole…
We celebrate our achievements everyday but we know that there is still a lot of work to be done!
Anele Magqwaka & Thando Mdodane (Vuselela team)