Ann gives out sweets to extremely excited programme participants during school hours.
“I just can’t stop smiling, thinking about what Ann and her family have done for us here. They are angels on earth,” said one of our Area Coordinators today at our weekly office meeting when we debriefed the visit of our most recent visitors, NBC’s Dateline and Today Show’s co-anchor Ann Curry, her husband, Brian, son, Walker (16) and daughter, Mackenzie (18).
Brian high fives our Chatsworth participants.
In 2007, Ann Curry broadcasted a story about our program on NBC’s Today Show. The piece emphasized the need for programs like PPI in South Africa and the positive impact PPI-SA had already had on thousands of participants since our programme opened its doors in 2001. Just two weeks ago, Ann mentioned to our DC office that she and her family wanted to visit PPI-SA. Ann was reporting in Mogadishu, Somalia on the Horn of Africa famine and wanted her family to join her in South Africa for a couple days for an African experience. Could PPI-SA play host?
“Are they real? They are people with such generosity and are just beyond incredible. There was no act. And, the kids! The kids, they just were so great, and you could tell what a good family they are.” – Nasiphi Khafu, City Area Coordinator
Ann poses with our Molweni Area Coordinator after playing for three hours.
Yes, of course we were happy to hang out with the Curry family. We put together an agenda that involved numerous school and practice visits to introduce the Ross/Curry family to South Africa. According to the agenda, the family was to be picked up at the airport and rest until Ann came in later that night. Instead, Brian, Walker, and Mackenzie quickly changed into basketball gear and journeyed with some our staff to a nearby basketball court where we played a competitive two hours of 4-on-4 basketball. The desire to play ball and interact with one another on the court was a running request throughout their four day visit, which we gladly obliged.
“They were just humble. They treated everyone like individuals and on the same level, no matter if we were talking one on one or playing tough basketball on the court.” – Thobani Khumalo, Lamontville and Chatsworth Area Coordinator
Walker plays with Umlazi particpants.
The mornings were jam-packed with meetings with our programme’s schools in our seven different areas. Principals and school representatives welcomed our guests with incredible testaments to PPI-SA’s positive influence in their community, in addition to plates and bowls of local treats: samoosas, bunny chow, and ‘slider’ type sandwiches filled with spicy lentil and meat patties. Often the meetings would linger on to the school’s basketball court, where the family attracted every single pupil out of classrooms and on to the court. Students clad in school uniforms and school shoes started throwing up basketballs, airballing almost every attempt, though not caring as they were a) out of school and b) playing with famous, ‘mlungu (white people),’ from America. Ann and her family visited our primary schools and high schools (Leadership Development Programme) and at every session, they joined in the basketball drills and life skills sessions. The more basketball they were able to play, the better.
Not every day do we have a chance to meet, let alone hang out with, someone as well known as Ann Curry. Yet, every day we are quick to assume what some famous person must be like and if ever given the chance to meet someone of such a stature, how Hollywood they would be, almost untouchable because they just live an unimaginable life.
“They fit right into our PPI family of sharing and caring. The easily linked to every single one of us because we all have this common desire to do good. They were the perfect family to represent the PPI way, which is learn, share, and care.” – Mandla Sibulawa, Wentworth Area Coordinator
The staff out to dinner with the Curry/Ross family.
Ann, Brian, Mackenzie, and Walker, though obvious visitors because of their light skin, could not have fit in better with our PPI-SA family. Every school and progamme activity they visited, they carried with them full bags of fruit, sweets, and basketballs. Unfortunately, even though our program teaches basketball, we lack what you’d think are necessities. Without a second thought, the Curry/Ross family just made things happen. They bought our programme basketballs, needles and pumps. Our programme also lacked proper documentation tools, like computers and cameras. No worries, the family purchased our office two laptops and video cameras.
Their generosity is/was just second nature. They saw a need and they filled the void with what they could provide. Too many times our staff would just be staring blankly, gaping at the the family’s extreme generosity. There is no doubt in our mind’s Ann, Brian, Walker, and Mackenzie are just genuinely good natured people who just want to make a positive difference wherever they can. Ann was full with positive advice, often citing her family’s background and her ability to follow her passion wholeheartedly, to succeed and be happy, living a life doing what one is passionate about.
“I’ve never experienced such generosity. They were lavish in their giving, always asking how they can help. I was and still am in shock. Just speechless for the true words to accurately describe what good people they all are.” – Sbo Vilakazi, PPI-SA’s Managing Director
To Ann, Brian, Walker, and Mackenzie, thank you a thousand times over. You have made what we thought impossible, possible; your generosity is unmatched. The participants, school representatives, principals and staff members will forever remember your visit and eagerly await your next visit. Thank you.