After being home for no more than 24 hours, I find myself lamenting over the end of this trip already. ACE in South Africa was, quite literally, the most rewarding and fulfilling program I have yet to be a part of. For that very reason, I can foresee a long-lasting relationship between myself and the ACE program, as well as the GVI organization. Prior to landing in South Africa, I was extremely nervous. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to form meaningful connections with the people we were working with; however, within seconds of entering the Zola Township, every ounce of nervousness and anxiety immediately dissipated.
“While we only got to work with these kids for two weeks, the same level of care and generosity that the kids had for one another was also a part of the relationships that they had formed with each of our ACE team members.”
If I had to describe the Zola Township with a single word, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘family.’ It’s as if there was an unspoken rule that your neighbor’s kids were your kids and you didn’t have friends in the community, but rather you had family. As soon as we began our sports program at Anointed, the camaraderie and care for one another was bountiful. Given the language barrier you would often see the older kids translating the teacher’s instructions into the local language, making drills and games run all the better. And even in the event that a kid had fallen or got hurt during a sports game, the older kids in the group were always the first to respond.
While we only got to work with these kids for two weeks, the same level of care and generosity that the kids had for one another was also a part of the relationships that they had formed with each of our ACE team members. Whether it be offering a bite of their own lunch to us or being the first to clean up all the cones on the field, there was no shortage of helping hands.
“At first, I was worried that the adults would be a little less enthusiastic about learning. To my surprise the adults were just as enthusiastic, if not more enthusiastic, than the kids!”
During the last week of the trip, we started working with men and women from the community and teaching them about basic computer skills, first aid, and healthy lifestyles. At first, I was worried that the adults would be a little less enthusiastic about learning. To my surprise the adults were just as enthusiastic, if not more enthusiastic, than the kids! One man that I had the pleasure of working with was named *Roytus and he came to every single lesson that week. *Roy was so eager to learn that he would always be the first person in line for lessons. There wasn’t a day he left without a smile on his face. Excited about the skills he had learned, *Roy never failed to finish a lesson with a solid high five.
I am eternally grateful for the experiences I have gained and the friendships I have made while being a part of the ACE in South Africa program. To have been able to immerse myself into such a community and culture that valued family and relationships so much was most definitely the highlight of my ACE experience.