Hello Hello again

Catch up……overdue I know…….but here is an honest attempt to get you up to speed with what is…happening at the end of 2013…PHEW!!

The club Xmas party was outstanding, with over a 100 children and their leaders bussed in to Harare square in Khayelitsha for the event.
Excitement was at an all time high, for this long awaited party.
The leaders led by Nontsasa were busy cooking enough food in the kitchen…. to feed an army, but we were determined that this meal would be a memorable Xmas feast for these children.
We were privileged to have some special guests join in the celebrations, Neil and Debbie Gowensmith from University of Denver, America. Neil and Debbie brought a group of university students to Cape Town to volunteer their time to help in disadvantaged communities. It is caring people like this that help us do what we do and we can never thank them enough for their support.
Also on the guest list were old friends Bob and Sandra Warne from England, it was very special for all of us to have them share this special day with us. Bob and Sandra have supported Rainbow Dreams Trust since inception whilst living in South Africa and continue to do so even though they now live permanently in the UK. We are very happy to announce that Bob has agreed to act as our Rainbow Dreams Trust Ambassador in the UK.
Bob is as passionate as we are about the work that we do and is determined to convince others in the UK that there is an opportunity for their funds to truly make a difference in the lives of many disadvantaged children in Cape Town.
There was singing, dancing and music all day long and each club was given the opportunity to perform an act devised completely by themselves. As usual, the children excelled, giving renditions of drama, dance and choral, our visitors were overwhelmed with the talent they saw. Some of the children asked if they could stand up and say what Rainbow Dreams Trust meant to them, wow, it was an emotional time, with tears from many of the children, as they spoke about the guidance and support they received from their leaders and what a bad place they could or would be in if not for the clubs…YES YES.. we are doing something right!!!
We then had the long awaited announcement of…….. who had won the cameras?
At the beginning of the year, in order to encourage the children to aspire to greater academic heights, we announced to the children that at the year end club Xmas party two cameras would be presented. One camera to be awarded to the child that had made the most improvement in their school work., this was to be the ‘Academic ‘award, this award was not for the highest marks, amongst club members…all 105 of them, but for the child that had clearly shown great effort at school.. The second award was for the child that throughout the year had shown true Rainbow spirit in every way, trying hard at school and at home, showing empathy for others, showing respect to their leaders and elders.
The leaders had to nominate members from their clubs for selection; these nominations were then given to the trustees for final selection.
In order to add to the excitement, we brought the nominated children on stage, where they could enjoy the prestige of being nominated. Amongst lots of cheering and encouragement from the audience…just like the Oscars, envelopes were opened with the names of the winners. A member from the Philippi club won the academic award and a member from Hout Bay won the most all round improved member.
The audience went ballistic, I am sure the cheering singing and shouting could have been heard miles away, many tears of joy were shed. The most amazing part of this whole ceremony was the incredible enthusiasm of the ‘non winners’, not once did we witness resentment or hard feelings from the other children. When the winners were announced, you would have thought that the other 103 children had won, they truly and genuinely were just so happy for the two winners.
How rewarding this was for all the leaders to see that the work they put into these children, teaching them the true value in life…is working. Our visitors and I quote….’were overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of all the children’.
In retrospect, was the camera award ‘lure’ to encourage the children to give their best effort, to work harder a good idea?
Well, we all feel it was, it showed the children that they too, whatever the odds, can make it and achieve greatness. The academic award was won by a club member who has had to face enormous challenges in his life, more than you could ever imagine a 13 year old would have to. Yet, he uses his pain and personal diversity to propel himself forward
Our most improved member, learnt, as did her peers, that you do not always have to shine above the rest, that your kindness, your all round effort and consistent caring and hard work, will hold you in good stead and you too can be rewarded.
The majority of these children do not believe in themselves and their own ability, far too many of them will tell you that before they joined the Rainbow Dreams Trust club they never knew school was important. They did not expect to have a future outside their own township. Giving them a goal to visualize…even in just the form of a winning a digital camera, showed them that what you put in…you will get out…..it always comes back to…..You win or lose by the way you choose!!
Our next end of year event was the club leaders and RDT volunteers who had assisted us through the year. This lunch event was held at my home in Noordhoek, it was to be a celebration and my personal thank you for all the hard work that these wonderful people had put into Rainbow Dreams Trust, in the past year.
We organized a lamb on the spit with all the trimmings, it was a superb affair and so good for me to be able to entertain the team in my own home.
At the end of the meal, some people wanted to talk about their experiences with RDT, the highs and the lows, leaders also need to share. There were some heart rendering speeches and as I looked around at this eclectic group of like minded people, I wanted to burst with pride, my how our leaders have grown …beautifully. After lunch the club leaders then preceded to hand out a gift to each one of the leaders. This was the brain child of Onke, our project leader. Onke is well aware of the trials and tribulations that the leaders face not only with the club children, but with each other.
These dedicated individuals spend a lot of time together not only at the club activities.
This year, all our leaders took a course on child development and studied child problem solving with Judy at Hope House in Bergvliet. The course was a year long, so no mean feat. It was not always easy for them traveling quite a distance to the venue, but when they all graduated in early December they all were delighted with their commitment and success. Onke decided for all the leaders to end the year showing what a strong team they were. He put all the names of the leaders into a box and each leader had to pick out a name and then buy an appropriate Xmas present for that leader. What a great success this was, with lots of jokes and shrieks of laughter as they opened their presents…
If there had been any hard feelings or resentment between the leaders, this was all dispelled as they confirmed their affection and support for each other.
Well done Onke, you are a star and your leadership skills are growing by the day.
So we are close to the end of the trust’s activities for 2013, with one final event. The first Rainbow Dreams Trust soccer tournament in the Eastern Cape…organized by Onke, our director and coach. This tournament was created to give children with little or no opportunities living in the Eastern Cape a chance to excel, to be part of a winning team and to motivate them to believe great things can happen.
I will not be there to witness this unfortunately, as I am heading overseas for family and friend reunions…and of course to see who I can persuade to join us and help fund and sponsor what we do in order that we can do much more in 2014, to make more of a difference in the lives of these courageous children.
What was it that a famous person once said…when we leave this mortal coil…it will not matter how much money we had in the bank, or the size of our house or car…What will matter is if we made a difference to the life of a child…makes you think doesn’t it?
Bye for now, will be in touch on my return from my travels…wishing all our friends, volunteers and caring supporters, simply the best Xmas and a magical New Year.