Friday, 28 March 2014

This is the story of the two sides of a wild heart

A few years back I met a man.
One of a kind.
A man who makes an imprint.
A man who will make a difference.

His story is maculated with despair, blood and raw pain.
Along with the dark there are big dreams to improve the world, profound insights and the indeniable truth that change is possible.

[The childhood]
This kid grew up in a township with a mother and an abusive father.
At the age of 13 his father was arrested.
Selling drugs.
Mom lost her job.
Desperation. Empty stomaches. Everyone must help out.
This child was cunning and couragous, wreckless even.
His career as a thief took off.

[The gangster]
He grew older.
He grew bolder.
He grew cruder.
He grew emptier and more careless.
He became a gangster.
Drugs. Threats at gunpoint. Fear. Kills. Crimes. Blood.
He became a leader of his klan.
Infamous in violent circles.
They grew more ruthless.
They grew more powerful.
"Bad men" as he himself puts it.
They ran from the law.
He grew exhausted.

[The surrender]
One evening he gave up, for the will to fight had run out.
The cops were on to him.
For years he had not slept in the same place two nights in a row.
He went home and as he sat by the door he knew what was coming.
The police would take him. Put him away.
Rock bottom.
Enough now.
In silence he just waited...

[The prisoner]
Unevitable bars surrounding him.
The stay in prison did not frighten him, he took his chance of resting his mind.
As he felt a calm in his broken inside he begun studying.
A breaking point.
He knew that he would never again run down this road.
No more blackness, no more violence, no more intimidation.
No more.
His new self was not taken well within the bricked walls.
He took the isolation, the insults from the guards, the beatings.
He did not faulter, for he saw the bigger picture.
Bullying. Torture. Insight. Studying. Finding peace. Loneliness. Blood.
Over 10 years later freedom was his again.
He left captivity a new man.
A man with the vision, the calling really, to change the prospects of youth.
Prevent them from choosing the road to perdition. 

[The new job]
Two Swedish women with an idea of starting a recreational center in Langa met this recently freed man.
Their vision was about creating self-esteem in children.
They say something in him.
His experience of the dark side, his will to fight til his last breath, his dream of a better society where every child has a chance, his sincere belief that change is possible, his knowing what the hole inside can make you do, his natural leadership.
His heart.
He blew them off their feet.
They say IT in him.
This man ended up manager at Project Playground.
He never stops trying.
He never gets enough learning.
He never neglects his responsibilities.
He never turns off reflecting about the bigger picture.
He never gives up fighting for the future of the children.
He never quits dreaming, hoping and believing.

[The core & the two extremes]
A constant hunger for a broader horizon.
A natural in making people listen.
The burning longing to fill the hole inside.
Ravishing passion.
Profound scars.
Savage-like blood that keeps rushing through the veins.
An inner drive combined with complete relentlessness.
A dreamy mind packed with images of a better life.

One man with a tsunami-like force inside.
At the crossroads there are two possible roads.
One will eventually lead into total darkness.
The other into dazzling light.
Only two extremes can spring from such a core.

...For this is a story of a wild heart.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A remarkable will to hang

Langa stadium.
Soccer balls.
Empty chips bags & sweaty socks.
Warn autumn winds.
A perfect ceremony performed by trolls before the finals.

The annual PPG soccer tournament.
20 teams in various age categories fighting for a trophy.

What struck me far most was one specific thing.
It was not the outstanding work of the staff with their super professional FBI-looking walkies.
Neither was it the fighting spirit of the teams, as they sang when they entered the field with a completely syncronized rhythm.
It was not the sincere joy of the proud parents cheering for their kids.
Not even an altogether seemingly spotless tournament under a deepblue sky could top the list of strike-me-mosts.

#1: The will to hang
There were people everywhere.
Overjoyed cheerful crowds.
All ages. Men and women.
All different persons with the same immense longing to have a reason to come together.
To feel that we have something in common, some bond that keeps us connected to one other.
A bond. Any bond.
The dammed up will to hang was overwhelming.

Glimpses of a soccer tournament in a township somewhere in South Africa
Pictures of a feeling of fellowship

The will to hang.
For really, any reason is a good reason to be united.

Together we are less lonely.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

That certain place

They say the human mind strives to comprehend its corporal emotions.
That once we grasp what we feel we find peace.

I say that there is something even greater than that.
The complete opposite.
When we are left with an emotion too big to embrace.
A bit more than human, it would seem.
It just remains there.
Unmovable with a touch of magic sprinkled on top of it.
No logic applicable.
All reasons in the world do not suffice to explain it.

I say that such emotions define us, transform us, deepen us and make us believe.
I say that a certain place in a township just ouside of Cape Town has that impact.

Hello again Project Playground.
Yes, you have been missed.