Young, motivated , and willing to change the world : these are the main aspects of five Tilburg University students who have decided to start a new project in South Africa, in the local municipality of Emfuleni more precisely in the area of Sebokeng and Vanderbijlpark. The non-profit organization they created is called Lend a Hand (facebook page) and the project which has taken place this summer is called project Simba.Let’s meet the members of such a great NGO!Name: Walter M. Pasquarelli
Education: BA Liberal Arts & Sciences: Law Major, Tilburg University/ Instituto Técnologico de Monterrey
Future projects : Expand Lend A Hand and make it a permanent institution by providing project on annual basis and empowering new members to join the mission
Name : Livia Kaiser.
Education : BSc International Business Administration.
Future projects : Keep on working for Lend a hand NGO.Name : Maximilian de Vreeze.
Education: BA Liberal arts and Sciences, Major: Law in Europe exchange: Sciences Po Paris
Future projects: Expand “Lend a Hand” and further develop it into a sustainable and international NGO.
Name: Berry Sonnenschein
Education: Tilburg University – Bachelor in Liberal Arts & Sciences. Majoring in International & European Law.
Future projects: African proverb – “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”At this present moment, I have not given much thought on future products I would like to conduct in the same manner as I have dedicated much of my attention to Lend A Hand. Any project which I could possibly be a member of in the future will be joined in respect of the African proverb.Name: Doreen Verbakel
Education: BA Liberal Arts & Sciences: Humanities Major
Future projects: Contributing to the development of Lend A Hand to make a difference for adolescents in South Africa. In addition to this I would like to invite other people to get involved in this initiative to put in their own personal contribution.
Explain Pequod’s readers which were the most important aspects about Project Simba.
The most important aspects about Project Simba were the promotion of social inclusion and economic development, organizing activities, and inspiring adolescents to grow over themselves to build a better future. The main thought that we had in conducting our project was “we cannot change where somebody is coming from; but we can try to influence their final destination”. In addition to this we used our time in South Africa to network with local organizations. Our central aim is not to do a one-edition project, but rather to make it sustainable by having local partners to deploy volunteers at least on annual basis.
During your experience in South Africa did you find any cultural obstacles to deal with? Which was the most challenging part of the project ?
Obviously South Africa is a place completely remote from Europe. Cultural differences are present in almost every aspect of everyday life. A notable difference was for example the concept of “African-time”. If you arrange a meeting at 2pm, you shouldn’t be totally surprised if in fact the meeting starts at 3.30pm. The philosophy in this case is not “I am late” but rather “I have been delayed”. Of course being foreigners and thus guests it is something we adapted to very quickly.
How many activities did you organize over the period spent in South Africa?
Over the time we were in South Africa our schedule was dived mainly in two parts, during the morning we had meeting with children from various schools, we also had several motivational speeches in front of 40/50 students in each school. The main aim of these meetings was to persuade them that primary education and University is the only way to improve their future. Moreover, we tried to establish new networks with local businesses and organizations in order to build new possible partnerships. The activities we arranged in the schools ranged from inspirational speeches to judo- dance- and soccer training. The afternoon, however, was entirely dedicated to the children of the Emfuleni Shelter House, which is an orphanage we decided to work with. Besides physical activities, our aim was to share with the kids some of our values and ideas but also to give them an image of how life can be from the countries we come from. We tried to bring this close to them by providing interactive lectures mainly focused on multiculturalism, sustainability and human rights.
Are you satisfied with the results you achieved with your first project in South Africa?
Yes, we are totally satisfied especially because of the enthusiasm shared by the young students during the majority of the activities we organized. Secondly, as our main aim is to make the Project Simba as sustainable as possible we had several meetings with organizations and companies in order to look for financings and subsidies. For instance, a company specialized in engineer training supported us to buy shoes and uniforms. In the end, thanks to their help we were able to provide new shoes to five schools and uniforms for all the children in the orphanage. During the last day we also had a meeting with two different local associations, respectively, SEEDS and NOT FORGOTTEN. Both associations work for the whole year in South Africa, they teach to young students and children different tasks and skills in order to learn specific types of job. With them we have established a partnership, as a matter of fact next year there will be an exchange of partners, we will send 4/5 volunteers there. The aim is to send more volunteers and strengthen this partnership in order to enlarge networks there and give more support which will be composed on local support combined with our European support.