Our Baragwanath visit

12th April 2023
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   Written by Desiree Carter

Jacqui Tsola of the Staffing and Outsourcing cluster and me were lucky enough to visit the kids of Kids Kicking Cancer on Thursday the 30th of March and take part in one of their sessions.

We met up with KKC coordinator Sensei Moses Sebopa at the Zakithi Nkosi Haematology and Oncology Clinic at Baragwanath. This state-of-the-art centre was donated by mining mogul Daphne Mashile-Nkosi in 2022. Daphne lost her own 19-year-old daughter to hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a condition where white blood cells build up in organs and destroy other blood cells. Daphne channelled her grief towards creating a centre dedicated to fighting the cancer that claimed her child’s life.

The clinic was packed with parents and children, waiting in the brightly coloured reception for their appointments. Not only is Sensei Moses the KKC coordinator for South Africa, but he also runs all the Gauteng sessions. Moses is a fifth Dan black belt in Shotokan KWF Karate and a 2 times KWF South African Kumite Champion. Stay tuned as we’ll learn more about this decorated karate champion in our next edition!

The colourful yoga mats were rolled out and arranged in an empty corner in reception. All the regular attendees took their places and were joined by, with Moses’s gentle persuasion, whatever children happened to be waiting nearby. Moses started the session with a guided meditation to calm and centre the kids, which was followed by a stretching warm up.

“Power, peace, purpose” the mantra of Kids Kicking Cancer was said in unison by all the kids as they got down to some karate. They practiced their blocking, punches, and kicks as they took it in turns to take out their frustrations on a boxing pad. By the force of some the punches, it would seem these children definitely have a lot of frustration to work through when it comes to their lives and the diagnosis they have been given. Not for the first time did we see the extraordinary benefit of the programme for these children. Jacqui even stepped up and to the kids’ delight, tried a few karate chops herself!

Moses then guided them in their Needle Ninja practice: the technique used to calm them when having their blood drawn and injections given during their cancer treatment sessions. It was heart-breaking watching the children recount exactly what the procedure is when getting injected, something they’ve had to endure far too many times, but with Moses’s guidance they controlled their breathing and perfectly practiced their calming techniques.

After some games and a final round of “Power, Peace, Purpose” the session was ended and some KKC and Workforce branded snack bags were handed out to everyone in reception. After handing out the snacks, we caught up with Dr Thandeka Ngcana, a resident paediatric oncologist at the centre and asked how important Kids Kicking Cancer was to her patients. “It’s the thread that keep everything together here,” she answered, “Sometimes we’ve even called Moses in and asked him to help do the Needle Ninja breathing with a terrified patient. For the children who know what to do, it’s amazing when you walk in and tell them you have to inject them and they ask, “Can I do my breathing first?” They love their karate, and it absolutely gives them something to smile about.”

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