First date

Firstdate is one of my favourite TV programs. Having a blind date. I watch episodes on my tablet via YouTube. I now have a blind date myself. A blind date with South Africa, Port Elizabeth. Later I learned that it is called PE. In a relatively short time I decided to go on a date with South Africa and so I didn’t spent much time preparing for it. I trust my matching skills. Nervous and uncertain but also with excitement I go on my way. Have been wandering around for too long in the Netherlands.

South Africa, Port Elizabeth a new residence. Me leaving the Netherlands has gone quietly and also this time no Hello Goodbye presenter at Schiphol. It looked like sneaking out the back door at my brothers place. I left an empty house with backpack to start a 26 hour trip.

Via London and Johannesburg, 13000 kilometers further I arrived in PE. The night flight was not comfortable. I didn’t have enough sleep and rest. Sitting in between passengers I could not change from my left to right buttcheek nor stretch my legs a little.

On arrival my hostes was waiting for me. An energetic lady who will offer me shelter. Several years ago she closed the door in the Netherlands and moved to PE.

Once installed in her apartment, we did some shopping and I got myself a sim card. In the evening we enjoyed a fish platter and after I went to bed early being very tired. What a wonderful night’s sleep I had.

Friday I got acquainted with the organisation Ready4life and a safety briefing was

held. As far as personal safety is concerned, PE is the 2nd City of South Africa with the highest crime rate. So it is imperative that volunteers and therefore I also where advised the Do’s and the donts. Do not take unnecessary risks! I do not know whether I understand the word unnecessary. Also I spoke about the codes of conduct. The project manager however told me that I would be having no issues with this code of conduct, thinking I am to old and wise enough to get into some kind of trouble. Ha I’m maybe smart but certainly not always sensible.

The same day I had a township tour. Staying safe in the car with doors locked. It is striking that there are not only slums but also decent houses. Those houses are a product of the Mandela housing program. The program started during Mandela’s presidency. I read some articles about the project and the promise that about 1 million are going to be built with mainly running water and sewage. Also, and I have seen it more often elsewhere, waste mountains amidst residential areas. It’s a sad picture.

The first weekend until Wednesday I was alone in the house. My hostes and an other housemate went for a long weekend elsewhere. So I had a place complete to my self. Apart from the first impressions to process, I have especially taken the time to acclimatize. I just went out to discover the area. Monday I had more introduction meetings, and on tuesday a culture workshop and then we visited a few projects. By wednesday I had made my choice where I wanted to work and Thursday afternoon I started working there. I chose Maranatha.

A talk with the Project manager of maranatha led to a diversity of work that could be done. Think about teaching and workshops the young and young adults. In my mind it will be similar as the work I have done at Choose2improve. Also for Maranatha the organisation itself, I took on the challenge to update and modernise the administrative organisation. Besides Maranatha I also go for a role outside Maranatha, at various schools. However, this has to be further elaborated.

This week and a half is my first date, and I have had a lot of impressions. Where I came I felt very welcome. I have a lot of questions, but also experienced a lot of warmth and tranquility. I have to process everything but just like in first date, when you ask me if I want to see you again, I will definetly say yes.