By Chris Mazza:
Just over two months have passed since I arrived in the beautiful country of Botswana, and as promised, I have plenty of pictures and videos to share with you. At the end of my last post, I eluded to the beginning of our learn-to-swim lessons with participants from the SOS Children’s Village and the YWCA. This six-week project has now reached the halfway point, and we have seen some incredible results from the young swimmers!
As part of the lessons, the children are learning water safety, water movement, proper breathing, floating, and gliding techniques, among other valuable skills. In addition, they are gaining crucial social and teamwork skills, as they work together and with our coaches to develop as athletes. The ages of our participants range from three to six years old, which creates an interesting dynamic among the group, as some will progress quicker than others with more challenging techniques. Nevertheless, we have seen progress in each participant, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the second half of the project!
The kids from SOS Children’s Villages are from Tlokweng, an impoverished town on the outskirts of Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. Thousands of children in the Tlokweng and Gaborone area have lost parental care or will lose it in the years to come due to the scourge of HIV/AIDS. While Botswana has put tremendous effort into fighting HIV/AIDS, its devastation has hit towns like Tlokweng hard. Being able to shine some light on the dark circumstances many of these children face has been awesome!
Aside from the creation of weekly lesson plans, my preparations for this project are now much less time-consuming, which has provided me with ample opportunity to work on the Botswana Long Term Athlete Development (BLTAD) framework for swimming. I am approximately halfway done this document, but there is still plenty of research and data to assess before I have a first draft completed.
Luckily I have plenty of … nope!
Time here has been flying by! I have exactly one month left of work with the BNOC, and as sad as it will be to leave my friends, coworkers and this beautiful country, I am quite excited as it will then be time for my family to join me as we tour southern Africa! While there is still plenty of work left to do, I am excited as everything is progressing well!
The weekends continue to bring new and exciting experiences, as Simba, myself and the crew enjoyed the Guy Fawkes celebration at the local cricket club. This night is intended to recognize a failed terrorist plot against King James I, and is celebrated annually with a bonfire and fireworks show. Simba was the MC at this event, which meant we received free admission and arrived at the venue early, enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful day!
In addition, this past weekend provided me with my first opportunity to experience traditional African wildlife, as myself and a few friends from Germany, the U.S. and Canada (see: man with the Canadian looking beard) took a trip to the Mokolodi game reserve for an incredible game drive. This reserve is home to giraffes, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, hippos, ostriches, baboons, impalas, kudu, warthogs, (think Pumba from The Lion King), along with a variety of birds and reptiles. Unfortunately we did not manage to see all of the above wildlife, however I will most certainly be back for another taste, as the landscape was beautiful and the guides are very knowledgeable.
Finally, my coworker Modise and I attended a soccer match between the Township Rollers and the Police XI at the National Stadium. This venue is one of the crown jewels of Gaborone, and made for a great experience (especially because our team won…go Rollers!).
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we continue the learn-to-swim project, and for updates on the many adventures that are surely to come!
Cheers and Salan Sentle!