South Africa & Mozambique, March 2017 - (Photos Below)
This was our first collaboration with Coastal Church, which took us on an amazing adventure to South Africa and Mozambique to work with an organization called JAM (Joint Aid Management). JAM is the biggest (impactful) charity born within Africa and helps feed over 1,000,000 children per day! Stuart Bishop, Minister of Internship and Missions at Coastal Church joined me on this amazing trip.
This journey took us on a 30 hours plus mission that consisted of 4 flights and 3 different continents. Our first stop was in Johannesburg where we stayed only a day, we got to visit the JAM HQ, get a shower, stuff our faces with amazing food and a quick sleep before our next flight out to Vilanculos in Mozambique. As you can imagine after all that traveling we were really glad to reach our first project and settled into our accommodation on the JAM PLC Farm in the beautiful seaside town of Vilanculos. The amazing staff on the farm showed us around the site and explained how they grow all the vegetation needed to feed the children in the community. It was amazing to see and understand how farming really works, and to see how a sustainable and community-based project work. The farm also helps the local community (adults) to grow and sell to make an income to support their families and have a chance to get them out of poverty.
On the second day, we headed to a local school in Vilanculos to meet the students and teachers and see first hand how the feeding program works. After meeting with the teachers you soon realize that there are two main reasons why the children come to school, first is to achieve an education, and second is to EAT. Their parents know this and allow them to attend otherwise the chances of them attending would be much lower due the to fact that they could be used to work the land to try to generate funds to feed their family. Once we were finishing up the tour around the school, I noticed a classroom that was built out of sticks being the curious cat that I am I went straight into the class and sat down in the teacher's chair while there was a class in progress. The students and teacher laughed at the sight of this strange character trying to blend in. After Stuart managed to lure me out of the class, we joined the kids for lunch and all sat down in the shade together.
After lunch, we ran our first session and in Freekicks style, we coached the girls first and made the boys wait. It is very important to show the boys that the girls are meant to be treated equally and with total respect, like I try to explain to the boys "women are the backbone of all countries and must be treated like flowers". The girls all had a blast, they loved learning new skills and enjoyed just playing and having fun! From all the laughing and smiles you could definitely tell they had an awesome time, then the boys finally got their chance and jumped right in!
We spent altogether 5 days in Mozambique, coached at two schools, and impacted many children and adults with our Freekicks programs. For our last 5 days we flew back to Johannesburg to complete our trip. Back in Johannesburg, we got to visit some of the local townships and spent time in the JAM schools to meet the kids. Our last soccer camp was at the JAM base where we put on our last camp with children that lived on the base.
Update: Going forward into 2018 we are in plans to head back to Mozambique for the grand opening of the JAM PLC soccer field, construction of the field started in November 2017, it was a huge undertaking because they had to use heavy machinery to truck tons of new topsoil to stabilize the surface. Now we are just waiting for the grass to hurry up and grow back!!!