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“The seemingly smallest moments of connection and friendship, be it teaching, coaching, learning, or playing, can have immeasurable effects. You never know how the work you have done and the relationships you have built will affect someone’s decision-making in the future, be it tomorrow or in 20 years.”

– Beth Henkle, SheWinS









“I have been coaching now for almost 10 years, and I have yet to come across a group of kids who were more excited to play the game of soccer. The young women in Memel came to practice with a fire in their hearts and a true appreciation for the opportunity.”

-Kelsey Hans, SheWinS


IMG_0997“SheWinS allows the girls to understand that their self-worth does not solely lie in their ability to attract men, bear and raise children, and tend to a home. They begin to define themselves through their hobbies, their choices, and their strong suits, not simply through their gender-based obligations and biology.”

-Eliza Bryant & Natalie Hutton, SheWinS




“I was aware that I would be changing their lives, although I had little knowledge of the ways in which they would change me. Forming these bonds that will last for the rest of my life completely changed the person that I am and that I aspire to be.”

-Hannah Young, SheWinS


memel runner

“Well, working in the library is such a nice job. When I started working at the library, it seemed pupils didn’t know how to use it. Some didn’t even have interest in coming to take out books. We had a little bit of novels, but now we have more than enough. Cindy is always donating books to the school, so because of her, our library is full of good story books. We have all languages in our library. I trained last year’s and this year’s grade 3 how to take out a book, how to concentrate when reading so that pupils will understand the story after they finish the reading. Their teachers will ask each and every child what is in the story book he/she took out. So every Wednesday and Thursday every child now enjoys coming to the library. They now know it’s good for their education. On Wednesday and Thursday, I usually sign out over 100 books. So this means Wednesday 70 pupils come into the library – and Thursday 50 or more! The way I see these children, they have improved a lot. They now show a lot of interest in reading.”

– Nyarayi, Head Volunteer Librarian, Memel Primary School


memel africa kids“According to the Department of Education, all schools in South Africa must adopt the policy – Drop all and read – in primary schools. The objectives are to improve the reading abilities of learners in public schools. During 2015, Memel Primary School also adopted this policy. At the end of a school day, 14:00, all learners then – drop all – and read a book of their choice. Our library plays a vital role in that regard. Learners get a chance to take a book from the library to read during this allocated time. Wednesday is also a special day in the grade 3 class. After first break, learners get the opportunity to select a book from the library. Children can’t wait for Wednesdays! They read for enjoyment but also do book reviews, which are introduced in the grade 3 curriculum. I am sure this will foster a long-term relationship with books for them! We are so fortunate to have a functional library at school.”

– Stefanie, Teacher, Memel Primary School



Nothing gets accomplished without a hero. Steven Ablondi and Cindy Burns have been at the heart of this effort, and along with them contributions have been made by hundreds of people.

“Themba hits the greatest shot of all time… we lob the ball over his head… he swings while backing up, and misses… he recovers as the ball bounces, and manages to hit it, a hard shot cross-court that seems obviously destined to be far wide and out of bounds… but, his ball hits the top of the net, losses speed, and lands on the white stripe to win the point and then the game,“ Steven Ablondi says about pickleball.

Pule Setai, Chief Director of South Africa’s National Treasury says, “It’s much more than just Pickling. I am so encouraged by the news coming from Memel. It is about Pickleball right! But I find it to be about so much more!

“It is about courage and triumph! The Memel story leaves one with that careful optimism and a sense of Joy! Well…. it was also made real by a friend whom has been referring to me as a _*Minister of Happiness*_ after my in flight reading expirience and watching videos of UAE Minister of Happiness and Wellbeing and about how Wellbeing is important to Emeratis.

“Memel has proven to represent that OPTIMISM and an opportunity to KNOW that lives are changing for the better. That your initial thoughts become things that matter to others. That Pickleball is another addition to a basket of goodies too achieve happiness and wellbeing. Memel is a lab for happiness!”

***Memel has the first dedicated pickleball courts in South Africa. Polish your game, or join new friends and learn the “fastest growing sport in America” while you are in South Africa! All ages, all sexes, all races!