Picture of two young boys smiling in their hockey gear
South Africa – July 30 2020

A life-saving friendship – in an unlikely place

For Khaya and Pieter, ice hockey has brought them a new hobby and a best friend for life.


Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Gangs run the city and gun crime is a part of everyday life, forcing schools to close regularly when kids from opposing gangs turn on each other. It’s a tough place to grow up, so the staff at SOS Children’s Villages in Nelson Mandela Bay are always on the lookout for creative ways to keep kids away from the gangs.

Khaya*, 12, and Pieter*, 13, were at high risk of ending up in a gang. Khaya was struggling to fit in at school because he had a learning disability, and Pieter had started hanging out with a bad crowd since his brother had left home. Fortunately, both of the boys found SOS Children’s Villages before it was too late.

Through the local SOS team, the boys were able to join a local ice hockey team. This led to them becoming best friends both on and off the ice, and they are often found together, talking ice hockey tactics and making plans for the future.

The SOS staff have been amazed to see the change in the boys in just one year. Now Khaya dreams of playing for the South African national team, and Pieter wants to be an ice hockey coach. Their friendship, and mutual love of sport, has helped them see that they can do anything they want in life, and that there will always be someone there for them.

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the children.

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