PPI-SA + Texas = March Madness

IMG_0801In today’s blog, PPI-SA fellow Bryan Franklin reflects on a recent visit from a group of students from The University of Texas, McCombs School of Business.

The date was March 10th. March, but the madness hadn’t quite arrived, at least not in the United States. In a small Coloured township just south of Durban called Wentworth however madness was at full strength. But in a community known for violence and for anger often spiraling out of control, this was a positive type of Madness.

A group from the University Of Texas McCombs School Of Business had come to visit PeacePlayers International – South Africa, and with them brought a little March Madness of their own. For the kids of Excelsior Primary School of Lamontville and Assegai Primary School of Wentworth, it was as if they were playing in the NCAA Championship game.

The whole group participates in an icebreaker to get the event going

The whole group participates in an icebreaker to get the event going

This was the McCombs School’s second annual visit to Durban. Each year, a group of thirty MBA’s partner up with a number of different nonprofits across South Africa, PPI being one of them, to help with capacity building projects. For the group of six who volunteered to help out PPI, this meant providing assistance with our marketing strategy and how we communicate about our programme with different stakeholders.

While that work is helpful, the greatest benefit on PPI’s side comes from the interaction and attention given to our participants. The event kicked off with the three schools—Assegai Primary, Excelsior Primary, and Texas McCombs—participating in an ice breaker to get to know one another, bridging divides to the core. The energy surrounding the games that followed (Assegai vs. Excelsior Boys; Assegai vs. Excelsior Girls; and PPI Coaches/Staff vs. Texas McCombs) was palpable. Kids from both sides had not only their teammates but all of PPI’s 14 coaches and 30 MBA students from America cheering for them.

The UT McCombs Group took a stop by the office for a quick Q & A session before heading out to the field.

The UT McCombs Group took a stop by the office for a quick Q & A session before heading out to the field.

It was another reminder of the power of sport, and at such a exciting time of the year for basketball with the NCAA tournament just around the corner. Sure there were no fancy hardwood floors, no TV’s, no stadiums with thousands of screaming fans, but the core of the sport: hard-work, passion, and most importantly fun were all there. Combine that with a group of 40 or so primary schoolers many of whom have never been out of their community spending time with 30 or so Americans who had just traveled across the world and you have yourself one powerful afternoon.

At PPI-SA we’re not letting the madness stop there however, and are currently running a March Madness Bracket Fundraiser. Each bracket costs $20 to enter, half of which will go straight back to helping PPI-SA create more events like the one you just read about. If you’re interested in joining, you can find more information here. We need your support so that we can continue to bridge divides, develop leaders and change perceptions through basketball.

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