May 2016

GCA Welcomes Vochellis as Special Guests at Gala Event

As guests arrived at Global Camps Africa’s annual gala on May 7, they enjoyed delicious food, drinks, and the incredible view of the National Mall and monuments in downtown DC from the terrace of the Newseum.

A heartwarming video featuring a series of campers explaining what Camp Sizanani means to them kicked off the evening’s program. GCA’s Chairman of the Board Eric Sass welcomed guests and introduced GCA’s president and founder, Phil Lilienthal.

Phil said a few words about GCA, camp, and the goal of our programs to help underserved youth in South Africa reach a healthy adulthood. He explained that after attending camp these children look at the world as window, rather than before when they saw it as a wall. Phil then presented the 2016 Sizanani Award to GCA’s International Vochellis, who put the needs of the campers above the needs of themselves for nearly two weeks during the camp training and session. Over a dozen international vochellis attending the gala came up on stage to receive the award.

Soon after, Phil introduced South African vochellis Phili and Tshepo, whose presence among the guests and speeches were among the highlights of the evening. Phili and Tshepo, along with Phil and a few international vochellis, gathered on stage to sing a song to give those in attendance a glimpse into the Camp Sizanani Experience - something that’s hard to explain in words, though anyone who’s ever been to camp feels it.

As the group sang these lyrics to a song they always sing on the last night, it was impossible to watch without feeling a tug at your heart and chills down your spine.

“How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.”

The power of seeing and hearing from the South African vochellis in person inspired all in attendance. Both Phili and Tshepo told stories about individual campers and the difference Camp Sizanani and GCA made in their lives. They described the fulfillment and growth they experienced from being vochellis, and how much they appreciate support from people who have never even met these children. Their speeches were followed by an energetic live auction, raising funds to help support GCA and send more kids to camp.

The night’s program concluded with another story from Phili about a 14 year old camper who had an HIV positive uncle. This camper was able to ask important questions that she didn't feel comfortable asking elsewhere. When she returned home from camp, speaking about taboo topics like HIV, sex education and protection, her family didn’t understand. They wondered why is she talking about that, is she having sex? Over time she was able to change the mindset of family to be more open about these important health topics. She has become more involved in her community, even given workshops on these topics to young girls. Without the power of camp we don’t know what would have become of her.

At the end Phili revealed, “That camper was me. I’m proud to be a vochelli.” We’d like to thank all of those who attended and donated and helped to make this event such a success!

CAMP Goes Global Summer Program

We are excited to share with you news about our new CAMP Goes Global International Exchanged and Leadership Program. CAMP (Cross-cultural Activities Made fun Program) Goes Global aims to broaden the perspective of and empower at risk youth through cultural exchange and proven life skills activities.

In 2015, Global Camps Africa (GCA) hosted a five day camp program in Takoma Park in partnership with an organization called M.A.N.U.P., a nonprofit started by Howard University graduates. The program included activities from Camp Sizanani in South Africa, and used cross-cultural connections to teach teamwork and life skills through sessions like sports, yoga, and theater. The 2015 pilot program was such a success that GCA is expanding its program to bring groups of three highly skilled and trained African counselors from Soweto, South Africa, to volunteer in American youth development programs.

We are looking volunteers to help support the CAMP Goes Global program, as well as for partners that would benefit from a team of three trained South African counselors joining existing summer camp or youth programs in the United States. The Sizanani counselors will:

  • Train current program staff/counselors using lessons learned from working with youth in South Africa
  • Host one tailored life-skills or leadership development session and one cross-cultural learning session each day of programming
  • Integrate Camp Sizanani methodology into current programming and activities
  • evelop connections with staff and youth that foster global citizenship and open dialogue across cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic boundaries

For more information on how you can get involved please call (443) 309-2283 or email jordan@globalcampsafrica.org.


Report from the Field -  South African Nonprofit Collaboration Meeting at the South African Embassy

On May 4th, Global Camps Africa (GCA) participated in a meeting held at the South African Embassy with Ambassador Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu and several other non-profit organizations working directly in the country. Each organization was invited to share what they are currently doing in South Africa. Upon hearing about young South Africans learning to swim at Camp Sizanani, the Deputy Chief of Mission Nowetu Luti explained that though she does not know how to swim, she hopes she can perhaps learn from GCA someday.

The meeting concluded with remarks about the term Ubuntu, a quality that includes the essential human virtues of compassion and humanity. The Ambassador spoke eloquently about the importance of the work being done, and how the organizations attending embody what Ubuntu means to South Africans. It was a moving tribute to the work of everyone in the room.
As a result of the meeting GCA hopes to form a new partnership with the South Africa-Washington International Program this summer to bring together young South African leaders from both organizations for an open dialogue about leadership in their home country and their personal experiences. Stay tuned for more information!

Did you know you can support GCA just by doing your regular shopping on Amazon?

Our campers understand the true meaning of the AmazonSmile program. Sign up today to ensure that 0.5% of all eligible purchases on Amazon go to GCA and help keep these campers smiling all through Camp Sizanani next year.