Today, Taylor Brown, a PPI Fellow in South Africa, introduces us to Sifiso Mthembu and Sthembiso Shinga, PPI – South Africa’s new Area Coordinators in Molweni and Umlazi, respectively.
Sifiso Mthembu (left), Sthembiso Shinga (center) and Thobani Khumalo (right), Lamontville's Area Coordinator, work together on reviewing the HIV Basics session in the 2011 Life Skills Curriculum.
Taylor: What has been the impact of PPI-SA in your life so far? How long have you been a part of the program?
Sifiso: I’ve been a PPI coach for three years. It’s been a great experience, which has helped me a lot and has changed the way I’ve acted. I used to have friends that did negative things, but now my PPI friends have assisted me in developing new values in my life. Also, contributing to my community has made me feel good about myself.
Sthe: I’ve been a PPI coach for five years. PPI has had a huge impact of my life. I’ve learned so much and it allows me to take a closer look at myself – it has definitely made me more mature. Even when I wake up in the morning, being with PPI gives me the confidence to face any challenge I might encounter throughout the day. PPI has also changed my behavior – I no longer do anything I would regret because I feel like I need to be a role model for the Umlazi community.
Congratulations on earning the position of Area Coordinator! What are some of your plans for Molweni and Umlazi this year?
Center court at Sizimisele Primary School in Molweni. PPI-SA constructed this court for the benefit of the Molweni community two years ago.
Sifiso: To improve the leadership and role models of the coaches in the area by targeting current LDP players as the future coaches for PPI-SA in Molweni. Also, to improve the basketball culture in Molweni and to see increased community involvement (including parents and teachers) at PPI events.
Sthe: To improve the level of basketball in Umlazi and to develop local leaders in the community. In Umlazi, there is a lot of crime, so we need to get rid of that by educating the youth. I think our Life Skills program will change the behavior our participants and all of Umlazi.
What have you thought of the trainings and meetings we’ve had so far over the past two weeks? How will they help you coordinate your areas successfully?
Sifiso: The trainings have helped me discover ways of helping Molweni and the coaches that I work with. They also help me develop as a person as to what I should give back to my community. It also teaches me what I need to learn to move forward.
Sthe: The trainings have been very useful, especially since we come from the communities that we manage. Getting the basketball and life skills knowledge will make me more confident in developing my skills in the field and with the coaches in my area.
What’s your favorite thing about PeacePlayers?
One of Sthembiso and Sifiso's first activities with PPI - SA was a Curriculum Review session with CSPE consultant Tanja Dodd, in which they learned differing facilitation methods.
Sifiso: I love seeing different kinds of people working together to try and put together ideas to give back to the community. Also, having a major event, such as the City Wide Tournament, allows us to see people that are different than ourselves.
Sthe: I like basketball and life skills equally. PPI has allowed me to grow and develop as a person.
What’s your favorite animal? Why?
Sifiso: I would prefer to be a dove because I love to live in peace, and doves represent peace. I also believe that you will never fall without rising up. So, I would love to be a dove because it flies in peace. Most of the people who are not achieving their goals in life live in a negative way – they let themselves down without trying to rise up, which is why I continue to be a dove and rise up, peacefully.
Sthe: I would definitely be a pigeon! Most people say negative things about pigeons. The Zulu word for pigeon is “ijuba”, and oftentimes people in Zulu culture use this term negatively to describe another person. A pigeon flies – something people can’t do. If I could fly, I would be able to get everywhere in the world!
Thanks, guys, for your time. Looking forward to a successful year and some new energy in the Molweni and Umlazi communities! Best of luck with your new roles with PPI – SA.