Books, computers and study aids are not top of mind at present for SA Military Academy students who are concentrating on fitness and endurance for the Trans Enduro, which has community outreach at its core.
Trans Enduro goes back to 1982 when, according to Academy communication officer Major Herklaas Jantjes, a group of young officers found themselves without leave due. To have a break of some sorts, they approached the then Commandant asking if they could undertake a 10 day endurance event from Port Elizabeth, today Gqeberha, to Saldanha.
The initial event evolved and now sees nine teams compete in endurance events on land (cycling and running up to 50 km a day) and sea (between 30 and 50 nautical miles a day, sea state dependent.) Trans Enduro has specialist support teams covering fundraising, media, signals, logistics and “kaaswors” for beverages and entertainment.
Apart from raising funds in each town on the Eastern to Western Cape route, Trans Enduro participants put sweat equity into community service such as cleaning streets, painting schools and visiting retirement homes and villages.
This year the Academy’s Masiza programme will focus on senior citizens and early childhood development from start tomorrow (26 November) to finish at Saldanha on 4 December.
“The entire exercise is planned and executed by Academy students to develop leadership skills as well as enhance their understanding of practical issues related to community service. In return, communities are exposed to young men and women of high calibre serving in defence of South Africa,” is how Lieutenant Colonel Morne Booyens, Academy chief military instructor and Trans Enduro mentor, describes the event.
An enduring Trans Enduro tradition will again see the mayor of each town on the route write a goodwill letter for the next town’s first citizen. Including the start and finish, letters of goodwill have to be penned by 10 mayors for Trans Enduro 2021.
Jantjes sums up the event from a different angle saying Academy students “cannot and are not trying to eradicate poverty. We strive to prove we as soldiers take our position as responsible citizens by interacting with communities”.