Posted April 29th, 2008 in South Africa by Frérieke

Please read this beautiful text of Elizabeth Gilbert from her book “Eat, Pray, Love” …

“People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. A true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soulmate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soulmate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soulmates they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.”

This text helped me understand the situation between Peter and me. Eventhough our time together was amazing, we are not together anymore. Now I accept it. Thanks Peter, great time together…who knows our paths will cross again, one day.

Posted April 27th, 2008 in South Africa by Frérieke
Jord to you..
Live life as if every day is the last.
Jord… 27 years and you left us..
…but you knew the secret of life
your optimism, happiness, joy, social awareness, sustainable energy activism, friendship
we will take it with us!

A Rare Sight in the New South Africa

Posted April 16th, 2008 in Outreach programs by Frérieke

Black and White are making friends

By Peter Deitz

After nearly three months living in Cape Town, South Africa, the last thing I would have expected to see was a bus full of white South African school children pulling into the parking lot of an elementary and middle school serving mostly Xhosa, Zulu, and Tswana children. But low and behold, a week prior to my departure, I had the chance to witness just that only a few minutes from the nation’s capital city of Pretoria.

For the last two years, The Centurus Colleges Trust has maintained “outreach programs” at each of their three Christian private schools. With the exception of a handful of bursary students, the colleges enroll children from upper-middle class South African families. Most of the tuition-paying students are white. A few hail from the Indian and black families who have done well in post-apartheid South Africa.

After school, the vast majority of students return to their high-security homes that include virtually every amenity a child would need for a healthy and fun upbringing: a functioning family unit, plenty of toys, a desk at which to do their homework, a quiet place to sleep, ample food in the kitchen, and often an outdoor swimming pool. But there is also something missing from the picture, something essential for raising well-balanced and civic-minded children. A good dose of reality.

If it weren’t for the “outreach programs” at the Centurus Colleges, the students would have virtually no meaningful contact with the country’s majority population, which confronts daily the trauma of AIDS/HIV, the struggle of finding work and making ends meet, and persistent discrimination on the basis of skin color. Hence, the reason for the school visit Fre and I had the privilege to attend in late February 2008.

After the kids disembarked from the bus, they were met with smiles and commotion as more than two hundred school children poured into the courtyard where the visitors would be received, each carrying a chair on which to sit. Through a series of culture sharing events, the two groups of South African youth had a rare chance to rub shoulders and learn from one another.

The first day of the school trip was designed for grade 5 & 6 students. They were led into a large courtyard. The thirty-five students from Tygervalley College sat together near the back of the seating area. The grade 5 students performed a waltz in their Centurus school uniforms to introduce their hosts to the traditional culture of white South Africa. This quiet affair was followed by three lively African dance ensembles, performed by students at the host school. They wore traditional Xhosa, Zulu, and Tswana attire, appropriate to each of the three dance performances.

Later in the day, the grade 5 & 6 students from both schools were introduced to one another and asked to find pen pals with whom to correspond. The pen pal pairings fell along expected gender lines. The girls were quick to introduce themselves to one another and pair off. The boys from both schools required a bit more cajoling on the part of teachers to get the conversations started.

On the second day, grade 7 & 8 student from Tygervalley College arrived with gift baskets for grade 1 students at the host school. The decorated goody bags included candy, snacks, and a drink. After distributing the goody bags, the grade 1 students sang a song for the Tygervalley College students. The Tygervalley College students returned the favor by improvising a performance of some kind. My mind is blanking on the details. Later in the day, the grade 7 & 8 students took presented gifts of books and toys to the school library. They then spent an hour reading to grade 2 students from the host school.

It’s easy to get down about the state of South Africa. Fifteen years since the end of apartheid, many of the systemic problems that characterized the darkest period of South Africa’s history persist. In the meantime, AIDS/HIV has devastated families and entire communities. South Africa’s government is failing to deliver basic services, including electricity and drinking water, to the communities that need them the most. And yet, wealthy South Africa buzzes along as if nothing is wrong.

The two days Fre and I spent assisting with the “outreach programs” at Centurus Colleges allowed me to focus on something very positive. The experience reminded me that children the world over have an easy time setting aside their differences and finding common ground on which to become friends.

On February 13th and 14th, I witnessed the full beauty and diversity of South Africa’s founding peoples and was given much reason to believe they could build a nonracial and socially equitable future for their country.

A note from Fre:

It is heart warming to see those students interacting and making friends. See for yourself in the video we made! It is sad, sad, SAD to realize that this exchange, and actual meeting of black children and white children, took 15 years after Apartheid to happen. Thanks to the leaders at Centurus Colleges Trust, who have made it easy for these kids to “make friends”! Bravo! check also our photo gallery for more pics of this day…