The Stars of the Show

The Stars of the Show – by Lindani Mchunu

On the 24th of November we had our Annual prize giving. I look forward to this event, because we get to meet the parents and guardians of our students. Normally when kids are involved in a sport, they are supported by their parents. The parents drop them off and pick them up, on big occasions like tournaments or Regattas in our case, the parents are there to cheer them on. I remember my first Mac 24hr event as Academy Manager, the amount of support I saw from parents helping their kid’s setup camps and make food and so forth was commendable indeed. Yet it was also a stark contrast to my academy. I was the only parent for all my kids, I was the only person they had for support. I couldn’t help but wonder, how they felt to see other kids with their parents, knowing very well that their parents, were at home not able to come see them do what they love, or even worse maybe they didn’t have parents, or the parents were drunkards or worse their parents didn’t even support what they were doing.

At our prize giving we awarded certificates of competency, from competent crew to safety courses and day skipper tickets. It was a walk down memory lane for me. I had vivid memories of most of the students that were in attendance, I have seen their confidence grow from strength to strength on and off the water. The most emotional moment was when Yonela’s mother cried as she witnessed her daughter receive her skipper’s ticket. That moment was too real for me. I realised the responsibility we carry on our shoulders. Every day we come to work we carry the hope of mother’s, who believe that this academy will save their children from the perils of poverty and Township Life.

Someone once said to me it’s not personal its business. I couldn’t disagree more strongly, the work I do here is very personal and if it wasn’t I wouldn’t have done it as well as I have. The more time I spend here on this job it becomes even more personal every day. Sometimes I get impatient with people who do not see just how serious this work is, if I tell you that it is a matter of life and death for some of our kids, I am not exaggerating. All I hope for, is this academy continues to thrive long after I am gone and whomever may take the helm from me, realises that it is a very personal undertaking, that must be done with immense passion and compassion but more than anything, the committees and members of this club should know that just keeping the doors of this academy open is a huge feat in and of its self. We are not just teaching people how to sail we are saving lives, if you all knew some of the conditions our young people face in the township, you would realise just how incredible these kids are, to keep coming here even though they face despair every day. I couldn’t have done this job any other way, I thought I would not get emotionally involved because I thought I couldn’t deal with the abyss that is poverty and township life. I couldn’t deal with not being able to save them all, or give opportunity to all of them.

Yet now I realise that was not my job. My job was very simple, keep the doors of the academy open and keep the lights on, those who seek refuge will find it and those who seek opportunity will grab it. Just keep the oil burning.

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