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Week 1

My first week in the Kingdom of Swaziland was a very different experience to the cold and wet West Country that I am used to.

After arriving and it was cold, wet and raining – I did feel very at home. The next day was a completely different story.  It was lovely and warm and the sun was out. I meet the team – Malindi and Wilson –  on the first day and we went off in the car to get some jobs done. They were both very chatty and nice and made me feel welcome to the SKRUM team.

My first Sipho (charity’s logo painted on outside wall of school) was an amazing experience to have and really kick -started my time here in Swaziland with SKRUM and showed me what sort of things I would be doing for my duration.  The vast expanse was land surrounding the school and scorching weather was just magnificent!  The children were all very sweet and didn’t believe that my name was ‘Bethany’.   They observed the painting and we got out a rugby ball to pass around and they did really enjoy it.

Seeing the children passing the ball and playing rugby was the best experience ever to be in that environment and to see the looks a joy on the children faces when the games and rugby is introduced.  They simply love it!  Adding in a little competition really makes the excitement level rise and the fun really began.

I have seen only a part of Swaziland and what SKRUM aims to achieve and I am totally hooked!  From the friendliness of the people I have met and all the exciting new projects and opportunities that are coming SKRUM’s way,  it is great to be a part of it all.

My first week I was really finding my feet and getting to know SKRUM and the nature of the country and the people in it, it is a completely different place out here. This week has also been focused on the up and coming National test match against Botswana.   I was able to attend the National training and even help with being a ref!

The first week has been an interesting and exciting experience and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me here and what else Swaziland and the SKRUM experience has to offer.

Over view of week 2:

My second week in the Kingdom of Swaziland I travelled far and wide to different schools.  On one day we worked out we have travelled 190 miles!

I have started on my Level 1 coaching award with Michael.  On one of the days Wilson and Naomi took me out onto the lawn and we did some drills and working on aspects of my rugby.  Michael told me that to be a good coach you must understand the game and be able to do the skills yourself before teaching them.  I am very excited to be coached myself a bit my Wilson and the other coaches as I think it will make me a better rugby player overall.

Travelling around to the different schools, we must have gone to about 8-10 in one day. It was great to see such a positive reaction from the head teachers and sport teachers; they really were very keen to get rugby into the schools and played by the children.

An idea formed before I arrived was a top 16 tournament where the top 16 schools in Swaziland would compete in a massive tournament.  Due to the strike last term and closeness of exams, it was hard to do this year but all the teachers were extremely excited about the concept and next year top 16 will be launched in a brilliant fashion.

This week was particularly good as I had my first proper coaching session and it was truly the best thing ever!  The children were so keen to be a part of what we were doing and singing the ‘Pass the Ball not the Virus’ song and clapping and shouting was such a brilliant place to be and be a part of.

I had another two training sessions throughout the week:   one up in the mountains at a small primary school. We painted the Sipho and did the coaching session and it was so much fun.  The children loved it when we got involved and as soon as it was introduced as game competitions they would go mad with shouting laughing and generally just having a great time!

We also did a coaching session at a teachers college, which was so much fun as the guys took the competition so seriously and the girls were screaming in excitement and having a blast. Every coaching session and school I have been too has been different and exciting every time and I swear I will never get tired of it.

The landscape in Swaziland is like nothing I have ever seen, every school we visit and place we travel to it is simply stunning, that is the only word for it.

My 2nd week in Swaziland I am really getting the passion for the SKRUM mission and being here and being with all the coaches and children really is the most amazing experience.   Yes like anything there are differences and some not all good but the overall experience I am having so far is fantastic.

Over view of week 3:

My third week in the Kingdom of Swaziland was very focused on the up and coming National Test match against Botswana. There were a lot of things to get done and prepare.

I have tried some very new things this week, such as eating “dust chicken” which is a Swazi thing with rice like thing to accompany it called “pup”.  I liked this very much but the pup in liquid form was a little much for me and it was not my cup of tea.

I have done a lot of jobs this week meeting a lot of new people and getting things in places for the 6th!  There was not a lot of time for coaching which I did understand with the pressure of the match coming up.  I had a fun day with Wilson as we were instructed to go to the stadium and paint the rugby posts.  If I don’t say so myself, they looked awesome once Wilson and I had finished!

There was some very bad news the Wednesday night before the match. Botswana had seen the recent activities in South Africa and had therefore decided to pull out as they didn’t want to travel!  This was a great disappointment to everyone but putting a positive spin on it, it gave a chance for us to get more branding and sponsorship for the event, which should hopefully be held in 3 weeks or so.

Due to the national match being cancelled, I have been helping Linda paint and set up her new Christmas shop which has been such fun.  Also, Michael and Linda were kind enough to take me up into Milwanne wildlife sanctuary and show me Executioner’s Rock and the most breath-taking view that I have ever seen.  I even put a rock right at the top!

Even with the disappointment of the match being cancelled I have laughed so much in the last week with the coaches, Michael, Linda and everyone I have met.  The next week is to have lots of coaching and more SKRUM focused work!

Over view of week 4:

My 4th week in the Kingdom of Swaziland was a very fun and busy week. We had many events that were incredibly exciting and I can now say I have seen a lot of Swaziland.

The Monday was a day that was needed! The boathouse were all the equipment is keep for SKRUM was in desperate need of a tidy so Wilson, Naomi and I all went about tidying and sorting it out, this did take a lot of time, giggles and hard work but we finally got it tidy!

On one of the days we travelled over 190 miles and managed to visit 9 new schools! One of which was seriously in the middle of nowhere and when I say the middle of nowhere a promise you I mean it. I seriously doubted Michael’s phone GPS god system and kept saying we should turn back, but we did eventually make it. The landscape that we were in today was simply amazing. We were high in the mountains and schools were miles and miles apart and the roads were rather scary at times but it was so much fun to be out and about.

At one of the school there were a lot of old Swazi ladies outside so we decided that the rugby jerseys that we had no use for we would give to them. They were all so happy to get the jerseys and one even gave me a big hug!

After travelling around to a lot of the schools it was so great to see the positive response from all the head teachers and sports teachers that we met. All of teachers were so enthusiastic and really wanted rugby in their schools for the children to play and enjoy. One of the head teachers that really stuck in my head was so funny. He was so keen for rugby and said that he wants his students to play; he wants to be a ref and a coach and even have his own team! He was selling it to his own staff; me and Wilson didn’t really have to do anything.

At one of the schools visited it really made me see how serious the AIDS/HIV and why SKRUM is such a valuable and needed charity. A primary school that we visited had 75% orphans and OVC’s, out of 282 students that 212! This was really shocking statistics and really shows how the message and aim of SKRUM can help to raise awareness.

The best day by far was the day of the girl child! This is a day were girl are celebrated and we had organised for 3 local schools to participate in a day of the girl child tournament.

It was such a good day to see all the girls playing tag rugby and really enjoying themselves. The laughing and high level of competition really made the day a huge success! After the matches were done, Wilson and I organised a teacher v top student player’s game, this was so funny as we all got to play and even some of the women teachers got involved and said how much fun it was!

Bethany Neave

(for more info on this placement and others, please have a look at our website http://www.volunteervacations.co.uk, send us an email on info@volunteervacations.co.uk or give us a ring on (0044) 01483 331551 or (0044) 07833 208 158)



About www.volunteervacations.co.uk

We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages, work in marine conservation, primates conservation, land conservation, looking after rescued jungle animals, animal welfare, women's empowerment programs (sewing/fashions), men's empowerment programs (carpentry, plumbling, electrics, DIY), medical shadowing (doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists), after schools clubs, reaching out to underprivileged children and adults in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ghana, Ecuador and The Galapagos, Thailand and India. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
This entry was posted in AIDS in Africa, AIDS in Swaziland, Gap Year, Gap Year in Swaziland, Level 1 rugby coaching in Swaziland, Mlilwane National Park, rugby charities in Africa, rugby coaching in Africa, SKrum, sports coaching abroad, Swaziland, Swaziland rugby, Uncategorized, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in Swaziland and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to VOLUNTEER BLOG IN SWAZILAND: An Overview by Bethany

  1. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to
    start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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