Thursday morning was the worst! Weeding. Weeding in the hot African sun for 2 hours that felt more like 5. But, what can you do. It was a great workout at least! And we were working with Lina, Yster, and Zima, the 3 black staff members on the team who we really like so that helped too.
Regarding racial divisions, apartheid ended very recently in 1994, so there is a very sad 50s-esque black/white division that we'll delve into later, and we also learned about a new one yesterday from Zima (and his interactions with Yster have confirmed it). Within what we would call the black community are actually two “races”: “black” and “colored”. If I understand it correctly, the black people speak Xhosa and the colored speak Afrikaans. According to Zima, who classifies himself as black, the colored people are generally lighter skinned, descend from slaves, and look down on the “black”. It’s amazing that even within a race with such an uphill battle in front of them, they create their own battle lines.
Moving on for now…Thursday afternoon we were supposed to do HIV soccer drills with the younger kids. Apparently, they dribble the ball around cones and if they hit one, they “catch” HIV, and then the other kids have to decide whether to the associate with them. I’m actually sorry to have missed this as it seems like it could get the wrong message across so I wanted to see it in action to understand. Unfortunately, it was cancelled and so we helped the kids work on ideas for a mural to teach the community about healthy eating that they will be working on for the next 20 weeks.
Friday was supposed to be a short day for us-we were just scheduled to work until lunch but when we found out we’d be prepping the kids for an afternoon soccer tournament that happens once a year amongst the townships, we asked to stay for the afternoon. This worked out great as the kids had no coach so after a long and arduous auditioning process Dave got the gig. After drawing out the game plan on a white board, we went outside to start preparing on the pitch (a small field littered with broken glass). I shouldn’t say that what happened next was hilarious, but I can’t help it. Within moments of starting the very first play of practice, not one, but two kids went down with injuries. I probably should have mentioned we had about 7 kids to work with, and the game set up would be 5 on 5. These weren’t serious injuries, but one of the kids, Steve went inside to rest, and so Zima and I took turns playing with the other kids to get them ready. There was one girl in the bunch, Vuyo, who was tireless, and never wanted to stop.
Come afternoon, it’s time for the tournament to begin, and Steve tells me gleefully that Vuyo won’t be allowed to play because she’s a girl. So, I went to the judges (who happened to also come from Sinethemba) and stated my case rather emphatically that she had been the one on the field practicing all day and pushing everyone else so she deserved to play with the team she’d practiced with. They probably just wanted the angry white girl to go away, but it worked, and Vuyo got to play. Unfortunately our kids lost in the first game and Steve spent the next hour or so blaming the loss on letting a girl play, though she did as well as everyone else! I got pretty excited during the next game when our guys got slotted to play the one girls team out there and they asked Vuyo to play since they were down a girl. I had switched loyalties at this point to the girls’ team for Vuyo’s sake, and she actually scored a great goal to tie the score at 1-1 late in the second half, but the girls ultimately lost to Sinethemba in a shoot out.