"Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals." - James Naismith
Today marks a major milestone in our Peace Corps journey! We have successfully completed our first project in Swaziland! Yes, thank you, we can hear the thunderous applause clear across the Atlantic! Yesterday marked the end of our SKILLZ Basketball program at SOS Siteki. We had 91 total participants across the two weeks in December and January and of the 91, 33 attended the required 8 or more practices to successfully complete the program with 14 kids earning perfect attendance! We had a little “graduation” ceremony yesterday in the social center for all the different groups of kids and it was a very proud (and a little tiring) experience. Grace has been taking pictures since the start and worked up an excellent PowerPoint slideshow of pictures and videos for all the kids to watch. They were all so happy to see themselves dribbling, passing, and shooting, I wish we could've videoed their reactions! Our favorite 3yr old (I can say that because he's the only 3yr old we know here) and youngest participant was dancing in his seat throughout the entire twenty minute show! After the video we passed out certificates, a candy bar, and a new pencil to all the kids who completed the program, those who had perfect attendance also got a wallet made out of old juice boxes. It was so much fun for us to hand everything out and see all the proud smiles and I think we finally got that sense of accomplishment, and this was before we even knew the real success of the program!
Grace has spent most of the morning compiling our report in our Peace Corps Volunteer Reporting Form (VRF), and below are some of the highlights:
• At the end of the program, 94% of participants knew that having an older partner increases the risk of getting HIV vs. 33% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 94% of participants knew that alcohol impairs/clouds judgement and can cause poor decision making vs. 42% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 100% of participants knew that HIV affects all type of people, not just black people vs. 86% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 97% of participants knew that if a partner is unfaithful the risk for HIV increases vs. 35% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 89% of participants knew that an HIV-positive mother can give birth to an HIV-negative baby vs. 62% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 94% of participants knew that men do not have a right to be violent towards women vs. 57% at the start.
• At the end of the program, 77% of participants said they feel like they can ask an adult questions about sex.
• At the end of the program, 95% of participants said they feel like they can ask an adult questions about HIV.
• At the end of the program, 82% of participants said they would feel comfortable being tested for HIV.
All in all it has been a great first project! It's been a great opportunity for us to learn all the kids names and just get to talk with them. Some of the older kids who didn't talk much at all in the beginning opened up a lot by the end, and we even had kids catch us on the way home to apologize for being late or missing a practice because they had chores still to do. All of the kids had a blast learning different parts of the game of basketball too, and it was always refreshing to see the kids who took to it naturally helping out their friends who were struggling. The humility of some of these kids is astonishing, but they all beam with pride when we break out the Morristown East jerseys and suit up for 4 on 4 or 5 on 5. It's been a blast both weeks and although we came home dead on our feet most days, we’re encouraged by the impact we’ve made and our ready to start up another project! (Oh and we got some pretty epic farmer's tans out of the deal too!)