There were some familiar faces among the girls that showed up with their yellow belts and yellow stripes, but sadly, many of the girls we had begun with last year had left, and new ones had taken their place. When I asked Gerald about this, he told us that in some unfortunate cases, the parents put pressure on the girls to quit karate. He did not suggest why that might be, but after we completed a series of interviews in and around Marondera, it became apparent that we still have a lot of work to do before we win over the hearts and minds of the entire community, as many believe that martial arts is only about fighting and causing trouble and don't yet see its empowering potential for girls. As with all positive changes, these things take a long time, and with the full support of Gerald and his team, we are able to give it the time it needs. It’s a good sign that some girls came to us after class to ask if their friends, cousins, aunts and so forth could join the class. In addition, we have the privilege of having what is probably the first karate-practising catholic nun in Zimbabwe: Sister Sandra. We hope that her example will encourage young girls to take the plunge and start martial arts.
In terms of the actual classes, most of our lessons have been led by Senseis Gerald and Mark, with a rotation of instructors throughout the class based on their various strengths and disciplinary advantages – Emma taking over kicking practice and Floris supervising self-defense exercises, while Ginie has been teaching the yellow belts the Shitoryu kata Pinan Nidan for their orange belt exams. To close off the week, we returned to Monte Cassino, where we taught last year as well. After a very energized double-class in a packed school hall with the entire school (nearly 400 girls!!), the director of sports of the school was so happy that he has proposed to hire Gerald to teach the school on an ongoing basis, including transporting him from Marondera to Macheke. The difficulty of access of Monte Cassino was the primary blockage to a long term partnership with them, so with this issue resolved, we hope to count Monte Cassino among the FairFight schools of Mashonaland!
Emma's return to marondera
- Emma Bouterse, Secretary of FairFight
Pearla's first time in ZImbabwe
- Pearla Papiernik, FairFight Zim 2016 volunteer.