The amaBele Belles have recently returned from Celebrating Life with over 2000 breast cancer survivors in Canada.
WOW what a wonderful time we had in Peterborough, Canada!
From the time we climbed off the bus at our hotel to the time we left on the Monday we were made to feel special – the people of Peterborough were amazing especially our ambassadors looking after us – Bid and John.
The organization of the event was superb and the attention to detail right down to the fresh veges in our lunch packs was to be seen everywhere.
We were invited to Andy’s smallholding out of town for a barbeque on the Thursday evening and were transported in the yellow school bus! We were again in awe of the Canadian determination to see to it that we had an experience of a lifetime whatever we got to do! From the burgers to the beer and pop, from the pink punch to the pink ice cream, the delightful singers arranged to the breast cancer survivor politician who talked to us! Andy and his wife Maureen went the extra mile to entertain us.
A big thank you must go out to all our wonderful sponsors who made this trip a reality for the team.
We will remember:
- That tumultuous roar that greeted us on arrival in the hall that Friday ahead of the street parade
- The welcoming people of Peterborough cheering the African team on down the main street
- The opening ceremony, the singing and dancing together with 2000 paddlers culminating in the pink fireworks display that set the scene for the wonderful camaraderie that continued throughout the weekend
- The two days of racing that provided new challenges for our team – first time participating in a festival of this nature and grand scale but we did ourselves and South Africa proud – great race time – we were up there with the fast teams!
- The Gala dinner with the inspirational speakers as in Dr Don Mckenzie who started BCS dragonboating way back in 1996 and “wonder woman”
- The African face painting we did to raise money for a project back home
- The words of the announcer of 63 races at the finale “Thank you to the world for coming to Peterborough, especially South Africa!”
- Making it onto the front and inner pages of the local newspaper
- Being aired on Canadian National television
- Being incorporated into a film being made by the Miami team, Save Our Sisters
- Memorable moments together on tour in Peterborough, admiring Niagara Falls, touring Toronto
- Proudly representing our country and team members back home
We have come home with wonderful interest shown in us together with support and assurance of this continuing into the future. Teams want to support us in our projects and some are really keen to visit us! The money raised in Canada affords us the wonderful opportunity of “giving back” to our community in our outreach projects.
The International Breast Cancer Pink Commission wanted to provide an experience of a life time for all the paddlers and the comments below show just how successful this proved to be!
Comment extracts from team members:
- “I felt very proud to be part of the amaBele Belles African Team that walked down the main street during the opening parade – wow that was awesome!”
- “The number of teams participating was quite overwhelming. Loved the walk through the town – felt really special being part of the African team.”
- “I have laughed, cried, pinched myself and done so much. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Peterborough. We created such a stir – Africa arrived!”
- “Not only did we present the most amazing vision of strong, vibrant African women, we showed the world what we Belles have achieved with our passion and caring. I have laughed and cried this week with a group of women (+men) I am honoured to know.”
- “This is one highlight of my life I will always treasure. Awesome tour, Amazing Canadians, Fantastic team and Incredible journey!”
- “This trip was something that words can never explain….awesome, exciting! The people were all warm and kind to us – they made us feel like celebrities!”
- “It’s so exhilarating to know that we were up there with the best – we could have taken them! “
- “There is nothing like the camaraderie at a survivors paddling festival – it’s as though we are all family and just haven’t met yet. “
- “That amazing energizing parade, the wonderful Canadians, the wonderful Belles – it was a great trip!”
- “It was such a powerful feeling seeing 2000 women united on a field, laughing, singing and dancing together. Wow, I still get goosebumps thinking about that!”
- “It’s not about dragon boating, it is about Celebrating Life!”
- “Well you guys were the hit of the regatta. You didn’t need to penpal with us as you had lots of friends there! Still it was a joy to meet up with you on the final night.”
A mail extract from a Canadian Festival Mom and Dad
“It was so good to hear from you and know that you all arrived home safely. We too have wonderful memories of the Dragon Boat Festival and all of our special “Belles”. We think your team was the hit of the week-end and we felt special being assigned to all of you. We loved being your “team mom and dad” and we will carry that title proudly.
We had to smile when you described Martin’s “new philosophy” — he is very much a thinking coach — we think he was the best coach at the Festival. You all worked so well as a team, and therefore the coach has to get some of the credit.
Bid and John – our ambassadors in Peterborough.”