“After this many years of receiving, now we want to give back!” With these words, the room was a abuzz with 11 teenage voices. Some had ideas, some had questions, and of course some had doubts. You didn’t need to hear exactly what each voice was saying in order to sense that this was the beginning of something big.
“The Boys” as they have come to be affectionately known were discussing their upcoming graduation from the Live Out Loud class. All had been part of Seed of Hope’s ministries for at least 2 years, some even from the organization’s beginnings in 2003.
Live Out Loud is an intensive leadership course aimed at senior high students which meets once a week for 2 years. It is the highest level in Seed of Hope’s education ministry, and takes participants from being “kids” in the community to becoming young adults ready to lead out in their community.
This group of boys were proving to be the ideal of what this program is about. Unbeknown to us at Seed of Hope, they had created a mentorship setting in their school, taking what they learned at Live Out Loud, adapting it and passing it on to a group of 30 of their peers. The boys went on to establish their own small organization, Leaders Act, which now runs a variety of programs around the Bhekulwandle community.
Ideas started to fly around the room! What could this group of teenagers from the township do to give back to the established, well-staffed, internationally-funded organization that has been sowing into their lives? A bake sale? Volunteering? A car wash? A triathlon? “Wait…. a what?”.
Most of the boys had never even heard of a triathlon. As they listened to the explanation, the boys discovered that they could do a series of races where they would swim, cycle and run to garner sponsorship for Seed of Hope. The confusion soon shifted to excitement. By the end of that class all 11 of the boys had signed up for what was to become the Live Out Loud Triathlon Team.
What was to follow were seven of the most challenging and rewarding months in many of our lives. Setting out for our first training run, we realized that despite a lack of equipment, most of the boys where naturally talented runners. However, the first swim training revealed just the opposite!
The boys have been incredibly dedicated and committed to this initiative of theirs, and from September 2012 until today they have overcome many challenges, not least of which is a 375 metre open water swim – an obstacle that would seem impossible to most non-swimmers. Of the 11 boys, 6 have progressed from not being able to swim at all to finishing the swim component of the races.
Our team has competed in 3 of the four races of the Mudman Triathlon series and we are looking forward to a great showing at the last race on the 14th of April 2013. Best of all, the boys are giving back by using their achievement to raise awareness and donations in support of Seed of Hope’s life-changing work among the youth of Bhekulwandle.