Around this time last year, ASC offered $500.00 in financial assistance to an American student studying abroad in Africa as part of our continued commitment to CSI (see here). Applicants had to be involved in either an environmental conservation or community upliftment program in order to qualify, and submitted their CVs along with their letters of motivation for consideration by our professional panel.

After beating out many other highly qualified candidates, Mandi Tembo was selected as the first recipient of our ASC scholarship. This is her account of her time spent in Africa…

100 Goals for Africa

This summer I spent an amazing three months studying t the University of Cape Town and volunteering in the township of Khayelitsha, Cape Town in South Africa. As part of my volunteering experience I aided in launching a soccer-education program known as 100 Goals for Peace, a program that aimed to empower young South African girls through sports-based public health education.

Studying in Cape Town was such a pleasure and a joy. I learnt so much concerning gender and racial dynamics and how almost all aspects of South Africans’ lives were and continue to be influenced by the history of Apartheid.  I read and wrote countless papers on politics and public health development in developing countries and enjoyed every minute. The education and knowledge I gained during this trip will stay with me forever. While I gained much from going to the University of Cape Town, my greatest life lessons came from volunteering in the township of Khayelitsha as part of 100 Goals for Peace.

100 Goals for Peace

A few other Franklin and Marshall students and I worked with local partners in Khayelitsha to develop a public health education program that trained 20 young women as local community leaders. The program engaged over 100 young female participants and equipped them with knowledge about HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and other critical health issues in an attempt to reduce health incongruence’s in South Africa.

Today, fourteen years after apartheid, South Africa’s national HIV prevalence for Africans was 13.6% while the white South Africans had an HIV prevalence of 0.3%. In particular, prevalence of HIV for women is much higher than men. Young girls between the ages of 15-19 have a 6.7% chance of contracting HIV, while their male counterparts have a 2.5% chance. Similarly, women between the ages of 21- 24 have a of 21.1% chance, while their male counterparts have a 5.1% chance (UNGASS Country Progress Report, 2010).

The goal of the 100 Goals for Africa program was and continues to be about using the South African cultural love of soccer to provide public health education for one of the most vulnerable populations in the country: adolescent South African girls. By working with local young women to create the education material and facilitate public health education, this project sought to empower these leaders in the community. In addition to empowering local young women, this project aimed to provide public health education, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS, to all of the 100 female participants.

Overall, the program educated over 100 girls (and over 150 boys). We used soccer as a vehicle to educate and empower young South Africans on issues related to their health. This 50 hours girls program took place during South Africa’s school holiday break. Prior to our arrival we worked directly with the Medical Knowledge Institute (a non-profit health organization within the township of Khayelitsha) and helped prepare the health materials. By working with MKI we were able to specify and target the direct needs of the youth of Khayelitsha. By partnering with this public health organization we were able to develop an educational program tailored to and designed for the women and young girls of Khayelitsha. Furthermore, by training the local community leaders through MKI we managed to implement sustainable support to meet the every-day educational needs of the community.

Classroom session.

Our hope is that this will result in a larger overall impact for the field and the township as a whole. It is through their gained knowledge, and education that the participants will spread awareness and education regarding health issues throughout the year.

I could expound on what we did as per our everyday schedule but I think that sharing one of my journal/blog entries might express and describe the impact and power of the 100 Goals for Africa project more effectively:

 July 11, 2012

“Winning is not everything” I never thought I would admit to that but it really isn’t.

I spent the past week learning a hard lesson self-control and discipline. Something the AMANDLA and CTC 10 Memorial Field staffs have been teaching the multitude of girls and boys enrolled in soccer programs at the field over the years.

I spent 7 years in high school and national field hockey building a cutthroat aggression on the field and passionate want for the win at any cost and it only took 2 weeks and 10 amazing boys to change all that. Last week, Barcelona (my team) started with a BANG – winning all their games and getting full marks for fair play. To fully grasp the message I am trying relay in this posting, I will go into detail as to what “fair play” is all about. Fair play is an 8point grading system implemented at the field to encourage good sportsmanship and team spirit. Each point is allocated to the following: cheering for other team when scored against, shaking hands with opponents and officials, no aggression, no talking back to referees, performing a team song and cheer and making sure all members of the team play in the match.

For Barcelona, things soon deteriorated when frustration and anxiety peaked as we tried our best to stay on top (and we did but it wasn’t easy). Although we managed to win overall, it was evident that fair play was our weakness. Our daily staff meeting revealed that fair play was something the coaches and facilitators struggled with as well. That Tuesday, I left the field very emotional and somber. I realized that a lot people misinterpreted my love for my team as pride, my passion as anger, my energy as brutal aggression. And I probably gave them good reason to. I recognized that weakness in my kids as well, especially Tera who never finished a game without shouting at the referee or getting into a fist fight. In getting to know him I realized that he wasn’t a reckless, angry little boy, he was passionate. And when that passion is tapered with self-control and discipline, Barcelona, Tera and I were unstoppable!

The end point of this long story is this – aggression isn’t a bad thing, it just needs to controlled (enough to “kill” at the game without killing your opponent…haha) and passion is a great thing, it just needs to be displayed in encouraging your teammates, never giving up on the game and being the BEST (the BEST winner or the BEST loser).

I want to thank the F&M students and AMANDLA staff for everything that doing to the field, especially during the ONE GOAL Program. Everything that we are doing at the field is making a difference and changing lives. And my team is living proof of that because by Friday, Barcelona was scoring 8/8 on fair play. There was an evident attitude adjustment and it reflected in a triumphant loss to KPR in the soccer tournament final. “Triumphant loss” what?! But that’s what it was – we won at being the best losers and it felt awesome.

1, 2, 3… BARCELONA!!!

To the African Safari Consultants, THANK YOU so much for providing the funds that allowed me to part of this amazing experience. Your contributions changed my life and most certainly impacted the lives of countless boys, girls, men and women in the Khayelitsha community.

 “If you educate a man you educate an individual, if you educate a women you educate a community” –African Proverb

Mandi with a (tired) young Khayelitsha resident.