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Internship Testimonial: Volunteering In South Africa Was The Best Decision I Ever Made!

Exactly one year ago I packed my bags, said goodbye to family & friends and left home. I had absolutely no clue what the next six months would bring, but it turned out to be the best time of my life. 

Living abroad, getting to know yourself, learning about new cultures, meeting the absolute best people ever, is something I would recommend to everyone. I don’t regret anything… Okay maybe one thing, and that is to not fully enjoy every moment – even the little things. Because before you know it, you are on the plane back home and you regret just taking some moments in and taking it easy. But there is such little time, so you want to do everything, be everywhere and see everything.

Everyone I met during my time in South Africa holds a special place in my heart and I appreciate every single moment. From going out to Barneys and White Tiger, to ordering pizzas and eating it in the Wi-Fi room while watching TV, to safaris, and of course, coaching the amazing children. 

Because that is what they are: amazing. The children I have met in South Africa who live in the disadvantaged areas of Port Elizabeth are my little friends, and I miss them every single day. They brought something into my life that is hard to describe. It is so special, and I did not thank them enough, because I did not know how to. I loved coaching them, having fun, dancing, singing and really being a part of their lives for a while. Sometimes I wonder how they are doing. Are they okay? Are they safe? Are they following the big dreams they told me about? I hope they are. Because that is what they deserve. 

My time in South Africa was special and I would 10000000% do it all over again. Give me a plane ticket today and I would run to the airport. To people considering volunteering: definitely go and see South Africa if you have the chance. The country is beautiful and the people living there even more beautiful. I have met the best people ever, with the most incredible life stories. They are inspirational and I am happy to call them my friends and even my family! 

The wildlife is absolutely stunning. I could not get enough of safaris and am happy I did every single one. I saw so many beautiful things! The sunsets I saw were incredible, I cried almost every sunset because in those moments I felt so grateful. Just sitting there, on the beach and watching the sun go down with amazing people surrounding me in the best country I have ever visited. I am happy I can call Port Elizabeth my home, even though I left, it will always be a part of me.

All I have left to say is it had a real impact on me. It was the best decision ever and I miss it every single day. Port Elizabeth has a special place in my heart, and I hope to go back there some time to see my friends and the children again.

 

  • Carlotte Klop, Amsterdam

 

100% Matric Pass Rate for School of Excellence Beneficiaries

Of the ten UTS South Africa beneficiaries who wrote their National Senior Certificate in 2019 100% pass rate was achieved at their respective schools in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

 

Their schools have partnered with United Through Sport over a period of five years – investing in talented children from disadvantaged areas by providing them with top level education and sport coaching as part of United Through Sport’s Senior School of Excellence Programme. 

 

75 pupils formed part of the Senior School of Excellence Programme in 2019. They received academic and other support at seven partner schools in Nelson Mandela Bay. These include Victoria Park, Alexander Road, Grey, Muir, Pearson, Andrew Rabie and Cillié High Schools.

“Since the establishment of the Senior School of Excellence Programme in 2010, we have achieved a 100% pass rate and we are once again very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our beneficiaries. Our journey with them will not end here, since they now automatically form part of our YOUth 1st Network which supports youth members with job skills training, guidance and support in order to access higher education and/or meaningful employment,” Nick Mould UTS SA director.

 

Successful student; Carlyn Camineth only slept a few hours after finding out that she passed with a Bachelor’s Pass before collecting her results at Victoria Park High School on Wednesday morning and fellow Victoria Park student Onela Mkonto, said she was equally excited – particularly to further her studies. “I am more than ready – I can already imagine myself at campus. I love working with children and it is my dream to become a paediatrician,”.

 

United Through Sport’s Class of 2019 collectively achieved six Bachelor’s Passes, four Diploma Passes and four Distinctions. The Senior School of Excellence Class of 2019’s plans for the future are diverse – varying from furthering their tertiary studies in Social Work, Tourism to Business Studies. 

“We are excited to follow these ten young people’s studies and careers with interest, as they transform their lives even more through the power of sport. We look forward to continuing our work in 2020 and want to thank all our partner schools for making this positive change a reality,” said Mould.

South African Sport Award for United Through Sport

Years of dedication to sport for good work in Nelson Mandela Bay paid off for United Through Sport South Africa, who received a national accolade as the Recreation Body of the Year during the 14th annual South African Sport Awards.

Sharing a stage with South African rugby Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who overcame many adversities because of the power of sport in his own life, made this award even more meaningful to United Through Sport Director, Nick Mould.  United Through Sport runs sport coaching and life skills sessions at Kolisi’s former primary school, Emsengeni Primary School in Zwide. Kolisi was offered a rugby scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth when he was 12 years old. 

United Through Sport reaches over 12 500 children at close to 70 schools in Nelson Mandela Bay per year. “We try to cover as many of the Primary Schools in the disadvantaged communities across Nelson Mandela Bay as we can, so we actually work in many schools around the Zwide area, of which Emsengeni is one. We also have a good relationship with Eric Songwiqi who was Siya’s rugby coach at Emsengeni and later became Principal of the school. Even after he retired, Eric spent time coaching rugby in our programme. We also have some kids from Emsengeni as well as other schools who have gained scholarships at Grey and other top schools around the Bay, so there are actually a number of kids from our programmes following the same path as Siya,” said Mould. 

The South African Sport Awards is an initiative of the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, initiated in 2004 in partnership with South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The awards recognise the impact, results and sporting achievements of the South African sport and recreation sectors.

“This is definitely our first major award.  Generally, awards are not something we chase or focus on as we are more focused on just doing our work and trying to make a difference. However, it is nice to receive some recognition for what we have achieved, and I hope that winning this award will give us more exposure so that we can continue to expand the work that we do,” said Mould.

He thanked all United Through Sport’s supporters over the past 14 years – including corporate, foundations and individuals who have contributed to running the programmes.  

“There are too many to list, but they know who they are, and we would not exist without them.  I would also like to thank all the international volunteers of which there have been more than 2000 who have travelled to South Africa to give their time for free to support our programmes and have added a hugely valuable human resource over the years. Thank you to all the children, parents, teachers and the staff at United Through Sport for their team effort in achieving this award – we look forward to growing our impact even more in the years to come,” said Mould.