TUESDAY 3 MARCH 2020
YOGA 4 ALEX
Our day starts in Alexandra where we are welcomed by a group of 20 teenagers and Marianne. By having a one on one interaction with the teenagers/students we get to know where they come from, what their favourite sports is and why they are or aren't practicing these sports. What they are in need of and we get the time to explain what Decathlon is and why we are there.
This one on one interaction is followed by a presentation where Marianne explains us why she started the organisation 'Yoga4Alex' and what their main priorities are. She explains us the high amount of kids that are unable to study, are in fights with their parents and are unable to have harmony in their life. One of the things that struck me the most was the part where 2000 kids are in one school divided by 25 classes.
She shows us the results they already made with the 'Yoga4Alex' organisation. Students that got high degrees all over the world and how Yoga helped them find inner peace and the courage to go on and succeed. A very touching story.
After this presentation, one of the students who became a yoga instructor couldn't wait to take us to the tennis court that is next to the house to give us a 30 minute yoga class. A great moment of peace that surely was needed for the following part of our trip.
11h00 - 13h00
After our peaceful Yoga session we get divided in 2 groups. Each group gets the opportunity to see a different side of this city who has many faces.
I get the chance to go the the part of the city where people have the least resources possible. 3 minutes after we left Marianne's house we cross the bridge over the Jukskei river. Without any warning we arrive from the upper-class suburb of Sandton in the slums of Alexandra. In this 7km2 township, more than 179,624 people live together. Good for a density of 26,000 people/km2.
If I look at Belgium that has a density of 367 people/km2, the contrast couldn't be any bigger
Our first stop in Alexandra is a primary school. We enter the building with 3 students that joined us during the yoga exercise. During the day they help the students in this school with reading and writing. When we enter we got told that the night before people broke into the new library of this school. Some new books got stolen.
I instantly get mad and don't understand how people can try to steal things that can help the communicate in educate these kids.
This school is located right next to a giant almost unused football field. Unfortunately because of the rules made by the local government, the kids are not allowed to play on this field. For me this is a missed opportunity as this neighbourhood is tortured by a big crime scene and that sports has proven in many ways to keep children from the streets and give them a purpose in life.
Our tour continues to another school. We get the chance to meet the principal director who explains us that his school counts 2000 pupils divided over 25 classes. A day at school starts at 8h45 and ends at 14h30. The kids have a weekly sports moment of 30 minutes, mainly to play football or to take part in the Yoga classes provided by 'Yoga4Alex'.
When we ask for the possibilities regarding extra sports classes during the week for the kids, the principal is not aware of any possibilities, he doesn't see the extra value of sports for kids and doesn't want to invest in it.
What struck me the most here is the amount of noise there is in these classes. Some classes count up to 70 kids and the noise is so loud that I can imagine it would be impossible to learn something .
We go on to our net stop, the 'Alexandra Football For Hope Center'. A football field. The aim of this center is to revive part of the township of Alexandra, which has high percentage of informal dwellings, and at the same time to educate youth about HIV and AIDS, empowering them to fight this through sport and education.
The center was sponsored by several sponsors such as FIFA and MASTERCARD in the year the World Cup football took place. Unfortunately, after all those years only FIFA is left as sponsor.
My personal feeling is that the other sponsors used this organisation to have a good name during the world cup football but once the event was over took away their sponsorship. Also I see an opportunity for Decathlon to be on the list of sponsors. It is 100% in line with what we want as a company, Making sports accesible for the many.
Our final stop in this trip through Alexandra are the sports facilities created by the local government. When we enter the area to see the director of it a lady tells us that is not allowed for us to take any pictures and that we are not welcome on these grounds.
After explaining what our purpose is our acces is granted and we get a brief tour around the few fields where kids can come to play on. One important side note is the cost for hiring these fields. It's impossible for these kids to just come and play some sports on this field.
A team has to pay a 1000 rand (55euros) to have a weekly moment to play sports on one of the fields for 1 season.
After this tour my main feeling/thought is that sports could really help to get crime numbers down, to bring harmony in this community and to keep kids from the streets. Unfortunately the local government isn't investing in it at all and isn't really open for help in it.
GUIDED TOUR JOBURG
After our lunch, our guide Charlie show us around the old town of Johannesburg. Unlike in most other cities, this isn't the average old town. This place was abandoned quite a few times in it's history and crime is still a big issue. We get advised not hang around here on our own.
We enter the backpacking place Maboneng, where we get an explanation on how different the formal governments were compared to the current one and how they still have hope that with the new government things will change in a positive way.
LOCAL FARMING - MAMA FIFI
16h00 - 18h00
Before we go to our story telling diner, our guide brings us to Mama Fifi, a local farmer who explains us in an amazingly passionate way how, by farming in a local way, she has an impact on the society.
Her purpose is to bring people together by farming together and make sure people have healthy food available in their region.
In the past 'Mama Fifi' won several prices. All of them she invested in enlarging her farm and buying new equipment so more and more people can join her.
Her motto is that she believes in youth and that they are keeping her young.
STORY TELLING DINNER
18h00 - 21h00
Our final dinner together, we spent in the old bank of Johannesburg. This place was renovated and got a new purpose a story telling restaurant.
Before each course, our guide explained us a bit more about Johannesburg and it's passed. About how this city became more and more a city of people with different backgrounds.
On of the things that struck me the most here is how 40 years ago people tried to gather the refugees in several camps to make sure they have a place to stay but not to include them into the society. Today 40 years later, in Belgium we do exactly the same thing with refugees coming from countries where there is war. It seems that after all these years we are still not learning from it.
CONCLUSION DAY 2
Our main answer after day two regarding, "how can I live in harmony with myself and others for a better future" would be to invest a small time of yourself to help a community near you. The important thing here is to focus on the needs of the community, to help them where needed and to be where needed.
Although it is important to have several contacts with NGO's, Governments etc... The positive impact you can have by spreading your flame of change is immens!