Tuesday, November 07, 2006

News from South Africa

Ruanda and Dourado from Abolicao Oxford Capoeira both spent 2 weeks out on the working holiday in South Africa. Here is there news about their trip.

Dourado: ' It really was a fantastic experience. After a very long (and sleepless for me) journey from the UK, we rolled directly up to the Capoeira hall in Hamburg just in time to catch the end of the group's daily training session. Still in the same clothes we'd spent the whole day and night travelling in we had our first roda with the kids of Abolicao Hamburg. As soon as the bateria and the singing started I realised how dedicated those kids are to Capoeira. I couldn't believe how much energy they put into the music and their game.

I had the pleasure of teaching several classes in Hamburg before Negao arrived and I was really amazed how well the kids were able to absorb just about anything I tried to teach them - even the youngsters around six years old.

The batizado event was a particularly special day. Traditionally in a batizado, the one receiving the belt gets a rasteira or some kind of trip from the higher ranked Capoeirista. In this batizado there was a real risk of it going the other way - we really had to watch ourselves. These kids train every day and put everything they've got into their games.
They really really love Capoeira.A couple of times during our stay we helped out the kids by travelling with them to do demos around the area. One of the things that made me realise what a difference Capoeira has made to Hamburg was seeing how much everyone in the neighbouring villages want it too. Everywhere we went people were asking us when we were going to start teaching in their village or town. They could see how much it has benefited the kids of Hamburg and now they all want their own kids doing it too.

Hamburg itself is a beautiful place and when we weren't helping out with the group, we did get a chance to have a look around and enjoy some relaxation time. We were looked after really well by the wonderful people working with the projects there (we even got our own pet dogs for the duration ).

Although an amazing and Beautiful place, Hamburg obviously has its problems which have been mentioned here already, but the work that we are supporting there really does seem to make a difference.Thanks to Baila and everyone that looked after us so well there.x

Ruanda:' First of all I'd like to say that there were plenty of reasons why we shouldn't have gone, but I won't go into those now, because I feel so priviledged to have gone. Like Dourado said, we stepped off the plane a day after we stepped on and straight into a roda: in fact the kids had actually already finished their class when we rolled into Hamburg but they didn't need asking twice if they wanted a roda! I was a tad anxious about meeting these kids, not quite sure what to expect of them (and not just of their capoeira ability: what if they didn't like me?!) But their welcome was so exuberant, I felt like they totally accepted these strange, tired-looking foreigners who had arrived at their doorstep!

Dourado's lessons went down a treat, the unofficial ones after the class had finished perhaps a tad more so but these kids assimilated so much - moves, music, and more besides so quickly! I had the pleasure of giving a quick demonstration of belly dancing, again I was a bit anxious thinking that the guys would feel left out when I was handing out the sparkly colourful hip scarves to only the girls but I was well informed afterwards that the guys very much enjoyed spectating the belly dancing The girls picked up the routine very quickly.

The Batizado was great fun - and incredibly exhausting: y'know these kids age between 6 and 19, and they've been training like EVERY day for the last three years and Negao took us aside before it started and said it's ok to give them one rasteirinha... Ha! Nevermind the vengativas and tesouras that they could dish back at us These kids were such an inspiration. Their dedication to capoeira is almost unbelievable - and right at the beginning I could spot a little bit of Mosqueteiro in all of them.

We also accompanied the kids to demos at neighbouring village schools and also to the children's festival auditions at which we were treated like VIPs by the organisers. We watched some traditional African dances performed by kids from all around the local area, and then 'our' kids performed their hearts out in a roda of ten. I was so touched when Zumbi asked if we would help with the bateria and singing. I had suggested that they enter the audition hall in single file berimbau first, followed by pandeiro and then everyone else with some kind of au - totally shocked to see folha secas, mortals, au sem maos, and martelo voi dors And almost as quickly as we had been accepted by the kids and the community, the two weeks were up and here we are.

I'd like to thank to Negao and Baila for organising the trip, and also thanks to Carol and Graeme and Jackie and Florence and Lulu and Dobby (aka Doggy ) for welcoming us so warmly and making it such a truly memorable trip.'

Monday, November 06, 2006

3rd Batizado at the Capoeira project in South Africa

Contra Mestre Luis Negao, Bailarina, Dourado and Ruanda from Abolicao Oxford have just come back from a working holiday in South Africa, where they organinsed the 3rd Capoeira Batizado with the local children in Hamburg. They have many stories to tell so watch this space, and by all accounts they had a really amazing time and experienced some fantastic capoeira.

Many thanks from the Abolicao Trust for your time and energy and for going such a long way to show the kids out there that we care about them here in Oxford and haven't forgotten them.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thank you Dr Ethel Frater


Recently a donation of R10 000 (£700) was made by Dr Ethel Barrow. The intention is to raise HIV/Aids awareness.

In order to get hold of some of this money every month the sports groups will have to do 2 things:
1. Hand out condoms to their team members!
2. Do something to educate themselves or others about HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The meetings organised by the Abolicao Trust were received very well. Four local Hamburg football teams attended, along with the capoeira group and the boxing team. The sports teams were so delighted to have the time spent on them, and several people told us that the information they heard was among the first comprehensive information that they had received about safe sex.

Completely separately, a group of African charities have begun a scheme called "KICK AIDS OUT OF AFRICA", aimed at football groups. If our project is a success, we will attract funding from this program, and they have said they will happily incorporate capoeira into the scheme. The boxing could also be incorporated, but perhaps more aptly called "KNOCK AIDS OUT OF AFRICA".

To give us an idea of the remarkable woman who made the initial donation of R10 000 here is what was written by her son:

"Mrs Ethel Barrow, known locally and affectionately by her carers as Dr Barrow (her maiden name), celebrated her 102nd birthday during July with a quiet gathering of friends from the community, her son Charles and grandson George who flew from England for the occasion.

"Born in 1904, Dr Barrow lived in Cape Town from 1928 until 1969 practising primarily as a paediatrician (especially of new born babies). She met and married Paarl-born Dr Ken Frater when they were both fellows at the Mayo Clinic in the USA. After the birth of her sons Robert and Kenneth, she pioneered birth control clinics when she saw the plight of the people of the Cape Flats in the 1930s . In her work as a bacteriologist at the Cape Town Medical School she worked with early samples of penicillin sent to Cape Town by Fleming and during the war she helped at the Castle with medical screening of recruits for the forces. Among the people who visited the household in those years were Leonard Cripps (brother of Stafford Cripps MP) and Louis Leipoldt. It was a dinner table with a broad spectrum of guests from all walks of life.

"Dr Ken Frater died suddenly in September 1950 leaving her to run a household with 3 sons (Charles was born in 1941). She took up her profession again and became the Medical Superintendent of Saint Monica's Home, a maternity hospital on the slopes of Signal Hill. After retirement she returned to her birthplace, England. Unable to cope without some active interest she worked at the Linnean Society Library sorting and cleaning books. She wrote a paper on the Tea Collection, a library within of books documenting the cultivation and processing of tea. For this she was granted a Fellowship of the Linnean Society an honour of which she was very proud. Her grandson George is doing a summer job at the same library . "Until she was 96 she continued to read her British Medical Journal from cover to cover and, although it was a struggle, lived on her own. The loss of her son Kenneth in June 2000 was a major blow. Since February 2003 she has been living in Glentana cared for by people in the community."

Her son adds: "I hope sincerely that the money is put to good use and in the spirit of the old lady who worked so hard for a multiracial community in the Cape", and we really feel that this money is going to go a long way. Currently an African charity is trying to get a big scheme of the ground, entitled "kick Aids out of Africa", targeted at footballers, and if it is a success then our scheme will receive long term funding

Local football Team involved in the HIV awareness sports program.