…Exactly… by going to the places in Africa which others would rather avoid. Because it’s not only the culture and nature here that is typical for Africa. No, it’s also particularly the people and the way of life in the townships that is very special.
Fortunately, however, there are supportive companies that don’t look away. adidas is one of these companies and, amongst other projects, supports the organisation SCORE in South Africa.
Last year, my girl-friend Sindy and I decided to spend a three-week holiday in South Africa in order to get to know the country in all its facets. Beforehand, I had read in our Intranet that you can visit and support the partner organisation SCORE.
We got to know Betty from SCORE through Simone who is responsible for adidas’ community involvement activities. Together with her, we were able to plan our time at the organisation. It was very important to us to join in and help support SCORE for a few days in order to get to know the people and their way of life in the townships.
We met with Betty and Stefan in Cape Town in the SCORE office. Betty is Stefan’s right-hand man. Stefan himself is SCORE’s Executive Director. Over a cup of coffee we talked about SCORE’s tasks and progress reports, about ourselves and got to know each other in a lively get-together.
Betty drove us to the township Mbekweni, about 50 km away from Cape Town. In 2010, SCORE built a sports centre which is used every day by children of all age groups during and after their school day.
“It’s very moving to see how open and big-hearted the children are”
We received a very warm welcome and we had barely arrived when the children took us by the hand. I went with them to a nearby school to play rugby in the courtyard there. I was amazed by the boys’ speed and drive. During this time, my friend Sindy had her first Zumba course with a group of girls. With their own music they’d brought along and choreography, the kids and Sindy swayed their hips and had a ball.
Afterwards, we all sat down together with the children and a volunteer helper and talked about alcohol. Alcohol is one of the problems in the townships. We were also expected to give our views on the topic and answer their questions. It is very important for the kids and teenagers to talk to them about these problematic issues at an early stage and on a regular basis as this either never or hardly ever happens at home with their parents, provided that they still have parents.
After an exciting day, we were taken to our host family. Here, too, we were given a very warm welcome and the best room in the house. In the evening, while we were sitting outside, in front of the family’s house for a little while, four young boys suddenly appeared. With big wide eyes and torn clothing, they stood in front of us laughing. It didn’t take long to break the ice and then we danced and played together. It’s very moving to see how open and big-hearted the children are and how easy it is to ignite their enthusiasm with simple things.
After a wonderful African dinner, we sat together a little longer and handed over our presents for our hosts, much to the family’s delight. Then, the first exciting day with lots of lasting impressions came to an end.
On the second day, our host family’s daughter took us with her to school where, amongst other things, we took part in a sports lesson. However, the ‘Live Orientation’ lessons are much more important. In these lessons, pupils learn about problematic issues in the townships, such as rape, drugs, unemployment and sexuality, which starts at the early age of 12. SCORE is very active here as well, supporting schools in these activities. We also talked very openly to the children about these topics and tried to answer all their questions. Their school day was very interesting and helped us to get to know the children and all their problems and better understand them.
A rewarding surprise…
In the afternoon, the program once again focused on sporting activities for the older kids and art and crafts for the little ones. It’s amazing how little it takes to enthuse these children. We crafted figures using newspaper and egg boxes, and the children’s faces beamed with joy. We also made friendship bracelets with the little ones. We had brought a lot of wool with us from Germany and explained to the children the meaning and purpose of friendship bracelets. Everyone was very curious and excited and delighted with the bracelets. We sat on the floor together, surrounded by a host of small children. Everyone wanted to see what it was about. Sindy started by showing a little girl what to do, who then explained it to the next child. And, in this way, we worked our way around in a circle. It was really fantastic to see how the little ones helped and supported one another. It was a real and rewarding surprise.
On this afternoon, we danced a round of Zumba with the little ones again because they just had to see some more of it. And we were shown how to dance African style. Afterwards, we played the game ‘musical chairs’ with the children. We really had a very nice day with them.
The evening we spent with our host family playing family games we’d brought with us from Germany (UNO, memory, etc.). The whole family played the games, even the neighbors joined in, and much fun was had by all. We felt very welcome and almost at home. A wonderful family.
We spent the last hours on the day of our departure together with the SCORE team. We had a look at another nearby school where we were shown around by the school representative.
We found it very moving, and it was very hard to say goodbye to the whole team and the children.
The last and final highlight of our trip was a visit to a vineyard with Stefan where we talked about all our impressions of SCORE’s work.
We had a wonderful and exciting time and are grateful that we had the honour to experience it all.