JUDO is so much more than a sport. It has given our rural farm children and teenagers something to hold onto on days where everything else works against them. It teaches rural farm children not to stay down when they lose but continue to fight no matter how many odds are stacked up against them, as they have been for generations. We can safely say that if there was no JUDO for the rural farm children and teenagers on Middelpos and surrounding farms, we would have a more difficult road.

JUDO is one of our most effective ways to have a safe space in which children with negative behaviour patterns can help to channel their emotions, control their anger and learn respect, self-discipline and confidence. We can safely say that it is JUDO that is currently keeping the children from dropping out of school from as young as 7 years old. It is JUDO that is currently healing very broken and vulnerable households on rural farms. It is JUDO that is giving the whole family something to talk about in households where no words were spoken unless people were drunk. It is JUDO that gives 47 rural farm children who live on 10 farms a sense of belonging to a wider network of friends and family spread out around the world.

In a short period of time, JUDO has proven itself to be the glue that helps rural farm children and teenagers aspire to something greater than they can ever imagine; a safe space, many hours of play, daily meals to eat, and access to basic education and health services. Slowly but surely, we are seeing how each and every child is growing more confident, resilient and skilled each day. More often we are hearing laughs instead of sad cries of despair and hopelessness.

JUDO has helped to keep every child involved in our programme in school, gives them a dream to hold onto during tough experiences at their homes. Perhaps most interestingly it gives them an inner strength to say no to different forms of substance abuse.

We wish we could JUDO every single day even if it’s just to see how the faces of our rural farm children change from feeling defeated to the facial expressions of champions.