About Grassroot Soccer

Mission: Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.

Vision: A world mobilized through soccer to prevent new HIV infections.

Strategy: To achieve our mission, we continuously improve our innovative HIV prevention and life-skills curriculum, share our program and concept effectively, and utilize the popularity of soccer to increase our impact.


Grassroot Video: Who We Are, What We Do.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Braai

So yesterday we had a bunch of people over to braai and hangout as like a "good-bye" party.  It was great to see everyone again now that we are back from our vacation.  I missed my girls.  The best part though, was afterwards.  We went out to karaoke at Captains - Tall's birthday choice.   Shuffle and I sang "crawl" by Chris Brown before Zuki challenged me to a solo-off.  She sang "Grenade" by Bruno Mars and killed it.  I followed with "Ain't to Proud to Beg".  My first ever real karaoke.  Thank god people were friendly. haha.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Manny Takes Us Around Tofo

Just thinking about this day gets me all giddy.  After this day I would seriously have contemplated missing my flight back if I had a job offer. 

We had signed up to go on an ocean kayaking trip.  We got to the dive center at 8:00 ready to go.  We had 2 families with us and our guide Manuel, Manny.  He drove us to the point of the peninsula, picking up the kayaks along the way, and we set off.  The tide was low so there were sand banks between us and our destination - an island.  We had to weave around the banks like a maze.  Jim and I shared a kayak and Will rode with Manny.  We stopped half way at a large sandbank to have a snack and look for shells.  There were TONS of silver dollars.  We also found an 8-legged star fish, flounder, crabs, and other pretty shells.  The second half of the kayaking was even prettier.  We started going over this area that was just covered in starfish.  They were orange and red, big and small...it was ridiculous.  By the time we got to the island I was tired, but I would have stayed out on the water longer because it was so pretty.

Mussels with salt drying in the sun

The island (I forgot its name) has about 800 habitants.  Manny introduced us to the chief - Eric - and then he showed us around.  We got to see the local clinic, the school, the 2 churches (Catholic and Episcopalian), houses, the Chief's pigs and shoe shop, and the restaurant.  We had a local-style lunch with dried mussels, rice, and matapa.  SOOOOO tasty.  

We had to go not long after, sadly.  The tide was coming in and Manny didn't want out truck to get stranded where we had left it.  To get back we took a dow - a rickety sailboat.  The sandbanks were all under water by now.  The ocean is crazy.  We then drove back to the dive center and that was that.  It was such a beautiful day, but it was still going.  During the course of the day we had befriended Manny and he offered to take us out that night.  He dropped us at Bamboozi and we made plans to meet him back at the dive center after we had showered and he had finished work.

An hour or so later...we go to the market to meet up with Manny.  Most of the traditional goods are gone, though a lot of things are left out (safety was amazing).  The food stalls were busy with people buying alcohol and food.  This moment was really exciting for me.  We first ran into the guy we befriended at Dinos who worked in the market and chatted with him for a second before he left for home.  Then we ran into a guy from the dive center who we chatted with quickly before we found Manny.  I love when things like that happen, like we're known here….no big deal.

Manny took us to his favorite restaurant right in the town center.  It was very low-key with just a few plastic tables and a short menu in Portuguese or Bitonga (the local language).  Either way, I couldn't read it so Manny enlightened us.  We could get chicken or fish with rice or chips.  We all went with fish and Manny got chicken.  We ordered beers all around.  I got my favorite - Laurentina Clara.  Manny got the Laurentina Preta which I tried...super stout.  Tasted like coffee.  It was quite tasty.  As was the food.  The fish, it turned out, was barracuda.  Jim and Will had ordered this the night before because it is supposed to be awesome -which it is.  Although, at this place it was about 200 Mt cheaper!  The plate was filled with some salad and a lot of rice and a nice sized fish steak.  It was so tasty.  The chicken was really good too.  The whole thing cost 80 Mt which is about $3.  Crazy. 

We chatted about random things and Manny told us some stories from working at the dive center.  My favorites:

  1. One time while kayaking he saw an octopus.  We emptied out his dry-bag and stuck his paddle in the water.  He just flicked up the octopus and caught in the bag.  He then gave it to the chief who cooked it for the lunch.
  2. He says that when a storm is coming in, right past the rough water near land the animals all gather so you can jump in and see whale sharks and dolphins and manta rays just swimming everywhere.  He's seen 10 whale sharks at once.
  3. One whale shark swam up to a boat he was in and came out of the water with its mouth open at the boat.  Yikes.

After dinner he took us to a bar which was just a stall with one table.  We drank local gin and sparletta.   The gin was definitely home-made style.  It tasted a lot like the schnapps I had in France, but with a slight addition of gin's piney flavor.  It came in a plastic bottle with a shotty-looking label applied to it.  It did the trick.  Soon we were chatting and dancing with everyone there.  We ended up buying the cd from the woman working the bar at the end of the night because the music was so fun.

Walked back home along the beach.  I will never forget that day.

Our last day was cut short.  Jim and I picked up a couple more things from the market, had another prawn curry bunny chow from the bread shack and took a last dip I the ocean before we took a taxi to the airport. 

Quick notes on the flight home:
  1. The Inhambane airport is 2 rooms big - the smallest thing I have ever seen and we took a prop-plane to Maputo. 

  1. Our flight got into Joburg late at 6:50 and the flight to PE left at 7:45.  Thank you to all the people who let us cut lines.  Thank god we know the airport well enough by now to run straight to where we needed to go.  The guy at the counter first told us the check-in was closed - we arrived there with 28 minutes to departure time.  We begged a little and he eventually printed out tickets.  Whew.  Made it home safe and sound, but now it's cold and raining and I don't want to be here. :(  

Ocean Safari

There is a dive center in Tofo called Liquid Adventures.  Their slogan is "wet your dreams" haha.  Anyways, they operated out of Bamboozi for a long time and only just started moving to a new location in town when we arrived.  There were still people around the Bamboozi office though so we had a direct line to ocean activities.  On Tuesday we did the ocean safari.  This is pretty much like any other safari except better.  And on the water.  We got to the dive shop around 10:00 or so and were fitted with flippers and snorkel gear.  We then went out in a boat with a driver and a tracker.  We drove around until we saw things, then we jumped in the water and swam with whatever we saw.  We saw a humpback whale, but people aren't allowed to swim with those because they're too big and fast.  However, I did get to swim with dolphins, jellyfish (scarily) and 2 whale sharks!!!!  It was spectacular.

These were the first things we saw.  They were out deep so we didn't get to see them too well.  I jumped in the water and just started swimming as fast as I could out towards them.  I saw a couple, but they get spooked and dive down if you're in the deeper water.  One did come up from the depths right in front of me though and that was really cool.  Even if you can't see them though you can hear them.  That was the coolest thing for me.  I just sat with my ears in the water listening.

Whale Sharks
This isn't my photo, but so you get an idea of what I was doing
This was the craziest thing.  Tofo area has the largest population of adolescent whale sharks in the world and seeing them is not too hard.  They tell you there's an 80% chance, but the two days before we went no one had seen one.  We saw 2!  The first time it was just out boat around it.  Jim and I jumped in really fast and just started swimming.  They don't go too fast so you can keep up with it.  I tried to get some shots of Jim with it with his underwater camera - hopefully those turn out.  We just followed it for a while until a boat of researches got in and a woman tagged it.  It dove straight down after that.  It was so breathtaking though.  I was completely amped.  They are truly beautiful.

The second one we saw was in the shallow water - like maybe 15 feet deep water or so.  There were a bunch of people already in the water swimming with it.  Jim and I jumped in and swam around the boat to see it coming towards us, a bit to our side.  We got to see it's mouth and it's eye and everything.  We started swimming with it, but there were so many people that it was a little distracting.  I got kicked and pushed a couple times and the shark hit me with its tale.  I resigned to following it from behind and I just swam and swam following it.  I have no idea how long it was.  I just kept swimming until I almost ran into a jelly fish.  I then saw a bunch of jellyfish ahead of me so I quit.  The boat was brought around and that was that. 

When we decided to do this trip I knew there was  a chance that I could do something like this, but I didn't think that it would actually happen.  It was the coolest experience.  And I was swimming in the deep ocean.  That was a first and a little scary when I think about it.  I was just happy I didn't get stung by a jelly fish. 

After the trip we stopped on our way home at a restaurant called Bread Shack.  We had amazing curry and chatted with a total Rasta as Bob Marley played over the speakers.  We decided to take the beach back (our fist time walking this way) and an adventure ensued.  For some reason we thought that Bamboozi was much further from town that it was.  We had received a ride in the morning from the dive center so we were just guessing.  We passed our hostel and then when we started looking for it, it was already behind us.  As a result we just kept walking and walking.  Somehow we managed to walk all the way to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.  We finally asked a security guard at a lodge how to get to Bamboozi and he just started laughing at us.  He said by road it was 12km.  We had been walking for about 2 hours.  It was quite comical.  He helped us out though and called a friend who came to pick us up and drive us back.  The boys hopped in the back of this strangers pick-up and I sat in the cabin with him.  He was actually really nice and we chatted as he drove though the villages at sunset back to Tofo.

We walked back into town (using the road) to have dinner at a restaurant - fish burgers and then went to a bar on the beach.  Dinos had a full moon party that we attended.  It was quite fun and we met some people.  One of the guys we befriended on the dance floor actually worked in the market and we got some good deals from him the next day.  The funny part was that every local who we talked to would ask us if we had gone to this party.  We would say yes and then they would mention how there were too many Afrikaans rugby guys.  Haha!  No one likes them.

Wednesday was relaxing.  Jim did a dive, but Will and I just chilled.  I woke up at 11:00.  This was strange because every other day of the trip and even today as I am writing this I was awake by 8:00.  Low tide = great beach run.  Anyways, I woke up and the boys waited for me to have breakfast before we went into town to visit the market.  A lot of the stuff is similar to what you can find in PE, but they do more color work with the wood and there is much more fabric.  I picked up some things for gift giving.  Will and I walked back to Bamboozi after dropping Jim at the dive center.  The rest of the day I just read my book, swam in the ocean, sat in the sun, and went to sleep early.  We had dinner in town, but didn't hang around too long.  This was our low-key day and I glad because Thursday was one of the greatest days of my life!


I will call this the greatest place on earth to vacation.  If you are not looking for a lavish and expensive outing.  Let's paint a picture shall we?  Tofo is on the peninsula of the province of Inhambane.  It's a small town that thrives off of tourism.  The main road runs parallel to the beach, but is a few blocks inland, so the beach is used as often as the road as the preferred route.  When I say road, I mean a path of sand.  Everything is sand, not pavement and everyone can walk barefoot.  It's easier this way too.  The only things there really are in the town are the market, a couple hostels (but not many), some dive shops, and some restaurants.  The tourism is obvious, but it's not suffocating.  The locals in the town center interact really well with all the tourists so you don't feel like you're invading or anything...it's hard to describe.  The area was also extremely safe.  We walked to and from town in the light or dead of night.  People say hi as they pass, but there is literally no feelings of danger - a nice change of pace from the areas of South Africa I have been around.  Our hostel was at the edge of the area.  It was a 20 minute walk down the beach from the town center.  Bamboozi.

Bamboozi was really just a collection of huts on the beach.  The whole area was sand and you could rent a bed, a whole hut, or just pitch a tent or park a camper.  There were a lot of campers, but we were the only people in our dorm.  On the top of the dune overlooking the ocean was a bar and restaurant where we ate dinner once, but mainly just used for breakfast.  The beach was quite deserted because we were so far away from town.  The water was beautiful and really warm.  Serious paradise. 

So this is where we were staying.  A beautiful ocean town that will seriously haunt me forever.  Everyone needs to see this place for themselves.

We got in on Monday and settled into our room.  We spent the remaining time of daylight in the sun before getting dinner and drinks at the bar and calling it an early night.  Bus rides and early mornings really tire me out.


An early morning on Sunday saw us on a bus to Maputo - the capitol of Mozambique.  This bus ride was fun because we got to go through Swaziland.  You had to walk through the check points so I can now say that I have been in Swaziland too!  The time went by fast.  Our plan had been as follows:

Arrive at bus station in Maputo
Exchange money
Buy bus ticket for the following morning to Inhambane (the province name and the capitol city of the province where Tofo is)
Find a bar to watch the Euro Final in and get dinner
Stay night in bus station waiting until morning bus out of town

This plan went out the window very quickly when we arrived.  The bus station was not a station, but the office of the bus line.  They did not have a bus to Inhambane, that bus was leaving from the main bus center which ended up just being an area of dirt where buses congregated in no particular order - TIA I suppose.  Also, it was Sunday so there were no banks open.  Whoops.  We found a taxi driver who took us to an ATM and then dropped us at the main hostel in the city.   

A note on Maputo: Maputo is not like a capitol city.  It looks kind of run-down and abandoned.  Some apartment buildings are tall, but not much else.  It has the feeling of a town, but with a lot more shambles going on.  That being said, Fatima's was nice.  We were able to walk down the street to a local eatery where we first tried Matapa and drank some Mozambique beer.  We watched the Euro finals on the small tv that had a clothes hanger attached to its antenna, yet still couldn’t decide if it wanted to broadcast in color or black and white.  It was a great experience and can I say CAMPEONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was so excited when Spain won!  I shouldn't say won, I should say KILLED ITALY!!!!!!  GREAT GREAT GREAT game.  Sorry.  So happy for the boys - and for Torres!!!!  Golden boot.  Good work my boy.

Quick explanations:

Matapa: a pesto-like sauce made from matapa, (cassava leaves) peanuts, and coconut milk.  Served with rice and seafood usually it seems.

Beer: Mozambique has delicious beers.  The local brands are soooo good.  We enjoyed Laurentina and Manica best, but the national brand is 2M (doshem).  South Africa has really really shitty beers when compared to this nice surprise.

Well, the night in Maputo passed quickly and before you know it we were up early again on a bus to Inhambane that, thankfully, left from right outside our hostel before going to the "station".


Wow!  What a trip.  I think I can place this past week as the top trip I have ever taken.  I saw some amazing things and had so much fun.  I am serious when I say that EVERYONE should go to Tofo.  It is a bit hard to get there, but it is amazing and cheap to stay there.

The trip started last Thursday.  After our last day of work for GRS (sad?) Will and I hopped on a bus to Durban.  I slept most of the drive.  We arrived around 7:00 the next morning and Jim picked us up from the bus station.  Jim had left earlier in the week to do some diving along the wild coast - sardine run and stuff.  The bad news was that the City Lads were leaving that morning.  We went to Durban to spend some time with the girls and hopefully get to see them play in the national tournament.  The lost their games in the group stage sadly and the management didn't want to stay to watch the rest of the tournament play out so they were leaving Friday morning.  We went to their hotel to see them off and got to spend a little bit saying hi, but then it was just the 3 remaining  no-longer-interns.

Our weekend in Durban was great.  We got to relax by the beach, catch a Red Bull extreme water sport show, watch a beach volleyball tournament, try local bunny chow, etc.  The Durban boardwalk is amazingly nice.  It's actually quite strange how nice the boardwalk is because as soon as you cross past Marine Drive and go into the city, the "nice" factor falls away quite quickly.  Like PE, the city is pretty much just fast food restaurants and cheap clothing chains.  Weird.  We did also spend a decent amount of time on Friday at the Mozambique consulate.

Jet Ski doing a back-flip off a wave
Jim had found an address for the consulate online that put it in one of the main buildings in the city center.  We went there and did not find it.  We asked around and no one knew.  We must have traveled 3 different floors asking random people before someone could FINALLY point us towards the security center for the building.  From the guy working there we found out that the office had moved across the city.  He was able to get us an address, but not really any directions.  After asking some randoms for directions to our new address we set off.  The thing about Durban though, is that every street has multiple names.  We were looking for Stamford, but like all streets, it was also named after some African person.  The main street is West, and online addresses and maps will say West, but it is labeled on the street signs as Dr So-and-So.  Similarly, Stamford was labeled as Moses-Somebody, and, at one point, First street.  This, needless to say, was quite confusing and we drove around a while before finding out actual location.  Once there though, it didn't take too long to get a nice new visa in my passport.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let's Play Catch-Up

So, I have been ignoring my duty to whoever reads this and for that I am sorry.  I feel like I have been doing the same-ole same-ole each day and that there is little to update on, but the fact is that that is not true.

Work had been carrying on normally, but I was having good times with friends and so forth, but here are some things to catch everyone up on:

1. Pumeza left for maternity leave.  Siya is now the acting site coordinator and he is doing a marvelous job.  He is very open in his communication and likes to keep everyone in the know and moving on projects.  He has done a great job at keeping up busy and happy.

2. We hired our 3 CPCs so VIP, Nowie, and Mendisto are now full time staff members!

3. Headquarters decided that we should get an office administrator to do my job in between intern classes and to help Siya out while Pumeza is gone.  This means that I get to interview, choose, and train my replacement.  Trick is that things are not so easy.  The first girl that we chose had issues with a reference so we interviewed more people, but didn't like them.  Then the reference got sorted out so we offered her the job.  Last second she was scooped up by the Dept. of Health - boo.  So then Siya and I started our third round of interviews.  We liked the girls, but no one of the 3 we interviewed yesterday scored well on the computer exam (how well do you know microsoft word and excel?).  SOOOOOoooo we did our FOURTH round of interviews today and FINALLY found a girl who we liked and who scored well.  My fingers are crossed that the background check goes well and that she accepts.  The only catch is that tomorrow is my last day.  She'll start Monday and I won't get to train her.  Oh well.  I have written up directions for her on the things I do and Cape Town will send someone to fill in the finance gaps.

4. Jetta.  I was put in charge of selling the Jetta earlier this month.  Headquarters told me to put an add up on gumtree (Craigslist for SA) so I did.  I sold it within 2 days.  I exchanged money for car and headquarters told me they would send me all the necessary paperwork for him.  Weeks pass by.  The license is expired, but he can't renew it to drive the car legally until we hand over legal ownership to him.  2 weeks pass before we finally get the documents in PE.  The buyer comes in to pick them up and they are copies.  Plus, there is no certified copy of the ID of whoever the license is under.  Useless.   June 2nd was the day I exchanged the car for the money.  It is now June 27th and he does not have legal ownership, nor can he legally drive the car because he can't renew the license.  I don't know.  He calls me everyday, I call headquarters everyday...now it has finally been decided that the REAL proxy is from PE, an old site coordinator and Siya knows him so will take care of it...I'm washing my hands.  He has threatened to ask for his money back which would not be good.  He came to our house where the car was sitting (not by our choice) to deal with me in the selling of the car (not by my choice).  The money was at our house and the boys had some coaches over to braai.  Over the course of the next 32 hours R2600 went missing out of my room of the money he gave me.  That was a whole debacle with me filing a police report and them telling me I was dumb etc. etc....now if he asks for him money back we will be down R2600.  Yikes.  I am excited that tomorrow is my last day.

5. The City Lads are in Durban.  They lost their first game to the reigning champions and I am waiting to hear about today's results.

6. Chika got hired to help Scott with the RCT until the end.  Shuffle got hired to move to Cape Town and help them finish up their schools.  MY GIRLS!!!!  So proud.

7. Tomorrow Will and I leave for Durban.  It will be our last day of work then a week of vacation and then a week in PE and THEN HOME!

8. SPAIN EURO 2012!!!!!!!!

Is that all?  Definitely not.  Oh well.  Sorry Charlie.