Jumping in the Deep End

A recent entry from Seed of Hope CEO, Carl Waldron’s personal blog…

It’s our first pool training day, and I’m buzzing with excitement. Eleven teenage boys from Bhekulwandle are about to swim for the first time. Ryan, one of their mentors from the Seed of Hope, and I are going to teach them! In early 2013, we’ll cross the finish line of the Mudman Triathlon together.

For a while we’ve been running twice a week. The boys, ages 15 and 16, are pretty good athletes, and a few are exceptional. They’re also emerging leaders in Year Two of our Live Out Loud program. They want to start a newspaper to report on positive stories in Bhekulwandle; and two months ago they asked to use a classroom in their high school to teach the life skills lessons gained at the Seed of Hope Centre to their peers. We discovered weeks later that they had 30 pupils in the class!

As a challenge, the boys decided to complete a sprint triathlon to raise awareness and funds for the Seed of Hope. In order to do this, we’ll need sponsorships, as well as running shoes (some train barefoot), swimming gear, and bicycles. This triathlon will not only expose them to a whole new sporting culture, it will deepen their bond and allow us to spend time with them beyond the walls of the Centre. It’s already changing their lives, and we’ve just gotten started.

Which all brings us here today, in the pool, for the first time ever.

The boys splutter and lunge, their arms swinging in huge arcs while they sink like stones in waist-deep water. I see faces looking around like they’ve just woken up, disoriented and struggling to get their bearings. One poor guy’s writhing technique manages to propel him backward and each time he bursts through the surface to gulp air his face registers confusion. An exhausting hour later, we climb out of the pool, sobered and spent.

I haven’t heard one complaint. Someone breaks the heavy silence: “This is just day one. It’s only day one.”

I feel proud. I’m learning something about courage and perseverance from a 16 year-old. We’ll keep training, and they’ll improve. It’s a great day, and I love my job.