It's holiday time! In the US we celebrated Thanksgiving and before the turkey leftovers had been thrown away, it seemed, we were hurtling headlong into Christmas and Hanukkah. Many of us do feel that it's "the most wonderful time of the year," as the old song goes, and this year at Global Camps Africa we are especially merry and bright. That's because we have not one, but two camp sessions running in South Africa this month!
Those of you who follow our work know that generally we have a session in March/April, one in September/October, and one in December. This year we were able to have our December session in Magaliesburg (the "usual" location) and add a session in KwaZulu-Natal, the second-largest province in South Africa and traditional home of the Zulu tribe. Following their experience leading a smaller USAID-funded camp there in January 2014, Camp Sizanani staff members expressed their strong desire to go back and work with more youth in that region, whom they felt were in desperate need of what Camp Sizanani has to offer: education, empowerment, and hope. Thanks to our generous supporters (that's you!), we were able to stretch ourselves to reach 110 children at the Mercury Hibberdene Children's Home there. Talk about a holiday wish come true!
The children at Camp Sizanani in KwaZulu-Natal come from all over the province. We worked through the US Consul General's office to find great organizationsdoing important work with the young people in their communities, and asked specifically for the Ambassador's Fund Community Grants Coordinator to help us find groups that would be most likely to continue implementing what they learn at camp after the Sizanani team is gone. This week, we brought selected staff from those organizations together for a 4-day training, led by 7 of our Camp Sizanani vochelli all-stars who traveled to KwaZulu-Natal with Phil Lilienthal (our founder and president) from their homes in Johannesburg. When this camp session is over, we will not only have reached 110 more HIV-affected young people, but also trained 14 new vochellis who will return to their neighborhoods with their campers empowered and inspired to continue the process of changing their minds, their habits, their perspectives, and their communities.
So it turns out that, for us at Global Camps Africa, the holidays really are "the most wonderful time of the year." We have so much to celebrate. Together with our campers, vochellis, and supporters we are looking forward to a very merry holiday indeed.