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Virgin Unite volunteer trip, bike riding for charity & what's cooking at Deyani daycare?

Wow May has been a whirlwind month! I literally cannot believe so much can be achieved in just 31 days. Here are a few highlights!

Project Pimp My Playground
Between the 3rd and 8th May we were invaded by a small army of amazing volunteers for the annual Virgin Unite Staff Connection Trip. Ten truly incredible people were chosen from Virgin companies around the world to volunteer with Pride 'n Purpose and see various other Unite projects. They brought with them an unstoppable energy, bags of soccer kits and books, loads of laughs and a pretty substantial fundraising kitty!

This was a good thing as there was LOTS of work to be done. They dove in head first to tackle Project Pimp My Playground and totally transformed Mahluhluvana Primary School, turning this lovely little rural school into a colourful, vibrant and exciting place to learn and play.

The group caught World Cup fever and worked with the school's Art Club and Adam and Lora (Peace Corps volunteers) to paint an awesome World Cup inspired mural, put in a new soccer pitch, leant to blow a vuvuzela and provided the school (and the neighbouring primary school) with a DreamBag for their soccer team. A DreamBag contains bespoke soccer uniforms, boots, shin pads and goalie kits and when we saw the teams take to the new field it was clear that they also contained an intangible pride and inspiration for the players and their supporters. For me the memory the atmosphere and hysteria invoked when the teams took to the field will stay with me for a very long time and gives me gooseflesh!

The group also sweated and toiled in the hot African sun to put in the schools first ever play equipment. We erected an awesome jungle gym, swing set and a tire obstacle course. You cannot believe the sense of achievement one feels when every muscle in your body is sore and most of your skin is sunburned and you see the first few little ones tentatively climbing on the foreign wooden structure and then the sheer glee was when they rush down the slide and all their buddies then swarm the jungle gym! Truly magic!

As if that was not enough the group also worked with the Conservation Club to replant their organic school garden. The group of grade 7's who had all received training from Food and Trees for Africa the previous year were only too pleased to pass on their knowledge! The school now has regular water thanks to the Fun Pump we put in last month so the garden is flourishing!

A huge and MASSIVE thank you must go out to Clare Thomas from Image Incubator www.imageincubator.com who volunteered her time, energy and immense talent to be our official trip photographer. Check out her pics from the trip to get a real feel for the experience: www.imageincubator.com/image incubator/Virgin Unite.html

So in short, it's official - Project Pimp My Playground was a resounding success! Thank you to all involved: thank you Heidi and Roisin from Unite for bringing out such a super group, thank you Denise and Peter - guests and great Ulusaba friends for rolling up your sleeves and getting involved, thank you all at Ulusaba for mucking it and supporting us as always and then of course massive thanks and big love to Nancy, Wes, Satesh, Nick, Lakshmi, Nat, Christine, Ben, Jon and Donne

For a blow by blow account of the madness check out Virgin Unite's trip blog: virginuniteconnectiontrip.blogspot.com

Kick starting our water fundraising
Just as our VU Connection Trip winners departed a burly crew of bikers rolled into town and it was time for Kick-Start 2010. Trev and Johann organized another exciting Enduro bike ride in the community in aid of Pride 'n Purpose. This year they were raising funds to put in a water pump system at Deyani Daycare.

The riders took on a really challenging outride in the stunning scenery, up and down hills, koppies, riverbeds, rock faces and heaven knows what else. All 22 riders returned in one piece, very dirty and extremely happy in time for the prize giving and a few cold ones!

A massive thank you to all the riders - it was a day of serious fun for a seriously good cause. Thank you to our generous sponsors: the Christie Group and Spar for supplying the food, Dirt Liquors for keeping our riders hydrated AFTER the ride and for the brilliant prizes, Save Build for their awesome prizes, Danel Construction for sponsoring the funky T-shirts and of course Ulusaba for donating a weekend at the lodge.

A huge and massive thank you to the Ospavati family who supported us so generously! Thanks to your contribution Kick-start has raised nearly R50,000!

What's cooking at Deyani Daycare
We are super proud to unveil the new kitchen at Deyani. During a community tour one of our guests got to chatting to the Deyani teachers. They showed him how they prepared the two daily hot meals in an outdoor shack/kitchen and they dearly wished for a proper outdoor kitchen.

Through his generous donation we were able to get Gilbert our handyman to build a stunning kitchen that totally fulfills their needs!

Then finally, all that is left to say is farewell. Today is my last day and this blog is in fact my last task! This has been a truly magical 6 months, a time I'll always treasure and be incredibly proud of. I thank you all for your incredible support and wish dear David and the lovely Lindsay so much love and success in the future.

Inkomu Swinene

Joni