In August of 2008, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I had been very ill for a while…I lost roughly 60 pounds, and before I was officially diagnosed, was examined for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia en route to actually figuring out what was wrong with me. In the middle of all of the tests I was having run, my hematologist flippantly said to me, “Well, you’ll never be able to run a marathon.” Oh, good doctor, you should never issue a challenge to me, ever.
So in April of 2010, I ran a half marathon. It was hands down the toughest thing I’ve ever done. The cards were stacked against me for sure, with joint problems being a side effect of Crohn’s, as well as your body not absorbing nutrients as a healthy person’s would. I managed to get all 13.1 miles done in less than three hours, and knew as soon as I crossed the finish line that I had to do it again.
In April of 2011, I will again be running the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. However, this time it isn’t for me, it’s for the youth. I’ll be running to raise money and awareness for Off The Street Kids, an organization I’m so very proud to have been associated with for close to two years now. The youth of the world should be our number one priority as human beings. Most of us were lucky enough to have had a strong upbringing by not only our parents, but our communities as well. The best thing I can ever imagine is to help a young person out who may not have been as fortunate as I was at that age.
If you’d like to make a contribution to my fundraising efforts, you can do so on my JustGiving page. Any amount, even $1, is beyond appreciated. I also highly encourage the rest of you out there to run or walk and host a fundraiser of your own. Believe me when I say if I can do it, anyone can.
We are nearing the end of the first year of our pilot programme and are now officially registered as a Trust here in South Africa. As many of you know, in the UK we are registered as Off The Street Kids. Here in South Africa we are registered as Siyaphambili OTSK. We asked the young people taking part in the programme to come up with a name and they chose Siyaphambili. Siyaphambili means “we are moving forward” in Xhosa (one of the 11 official languages spoken in South Africa) and it encompasses what we do. Using OTSK at the end keeps us connected to the UK organisation.
We are wrapping up the year with evaluations of the mentees to assess their progress since joining the programme and we are delighted with the outcomes. We have a fun day planned for the mentors, mentees and Siyaphambili OTSK staff where we will all celebrate our accomplishments this year. We are recruiting mentors and developing the programme, which looks quite different for next year. We have learnt a great deal in 2010 and we are are looking forward to 2011!
Julie Baron (Tomlin) (UK), Alison Groves (USA) and Sandi Hicks (AUS) are all selling the wristbands on our behalf. We sell a wristband to you for a minimum donation of £2.50 (equivalent amount in your country). You then write a message of support to one of our Mentee’s or for OTSK in general on the blank side of the wristband and send it back to us. If you would like to keep a wristband to wear then we ask that you please purchase two!
Now comes the fun bit! We will then return all the wristbands, complete with your messages back to The FSI. They will create a paper chain by combining all the wristbands from all the small charities taking part in the challenge. The FSI then find a prominent landmark to drape the chain over, helping to promote and give wider exposure to OTSK and small charities everywhere. The FSI will also keep a record of all the great messages of support, which they will make available to charities, politicians and the public.
If you would like to buy a wristband (or two!), please send your request along with your name and addrress to email@example.com where it will be forwarded to the relevant seller nearest to your region. They will then make contact with you to explain the payment options and the delivery / returns procedure. Once we receive your donation a wristband will be sent to you. The wristbands need to be back with OTSK / your seller no later than the 17th December, so that we have plenty of time to get the wristbands back to The FSI by their deadline, so please don’t delay and help us with our challenge!
100% of all funds raised from the sales of the wristbands will go directly to benefit OTSK. Many thanks for your support!
I have already been in in Cape Town a month – I cannot believe how quickly time is flying by! I should have known that spending 3 months here would not be enough. But rather then dwell on my fast approaching departure date, I’m going to make the most out of my time here. And that isn’t hard to do!
As Siyaphambili OTSK gets ready to wrap up the year, I have been assisting Marieke in talking to mentees and mentors to hear their thoughts on the program. I have really enjoyed getting to know those involved and becoming more familiar with the homes. It is exciting to see how invested people are in the program, what the mentees are learning from their mentors, and, in turn, all that the mentors are gaining form the experience.
We interviewed the four new mentees from Heatherdale and it was fun to get to know them. One of the questions we asked was why they wanted a mentor. Although some were unsure of an answer, a few were very in tune and expressed a desire to have someone that they could depend on and who could help them accomplish their goals towards independence. It is neat to be able to see the accomplishments of mentor/mentee relationships that are coming to an end as well as the excitement of new mentees getting ready to enter the program.
I spend most of my days working in Beth Uriel and love it here! B.U. has a very welcoming environment, one that is usually bustling with people. I’m getting to know some of the guys that live here – although most are busy studying for their Matric exams. When I’m not at B.U, I’m usually traveling with Marieke to go to the homes or to meet mentors. It’s been a great way to see more of Cape Town! A few days ago I took the train out to Muizenberg to meet Michelle and Marieke. Muizenberg is beautiful and it was fun to get out of the city.
I feel as if almost every day here in Cape Town is an adventure. Although I’m still learning my way around, I’ve finally started to get into my daily routine and do it with ease. Yesterday I had a man ask me for directions (which I proudly gave him!) and another one ask if I was from here. I am finally feeling less like the tourist I was when I first arrived.
Some of my own adventures in Cape Town outside of OTSK have included shark cage diving and surf lessons – both quite the experiences! Shark cage diving wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be and surfing was way more difficult then I had anticipated. Now when I see surfers out and about town I can give them the props that they deserve for simply being able to stand on the board!
Sunday 29th August 2010, four excited girls from Aussie X-Files Fans @ Facebook took part in the “Bridge To Brisbane” 10km walk – raising funds online over the past few months for OTSK. After months of training, Team AXF were ready!
The day started out very early, with all of us rising at 4am (in the dark) to be at the starting line for the 6am start. The walk took us from Brisbane’s “Gateway Bridge”, down along the Brisbane River, onto the Inner City Bypass and finishing at the RNA Showgrounds. At times, the walk was challenging – especially conquering the bridge and the inner city bypass which both had large inclines. We are proud to say that we completed the walk in a little over 2 hours, and managed to raise £300 (a little under $500AU) – thank you to everyone who believed in us, and sponsored us!
We are hoping that we can better our time next year and get under the 2 hour mark!
South African Youth Education for Sustainability (SA-YES) Trust, registration no. IT 2774/2010 & NPO no. 088-299-NPO, PBO no. 930 035 691, Section 18A, registered in South Africa & SA-YES Ltd, registered charity no. 1127701 and company no. 6693065, registered in England and Wales.