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To actually stop and spend time in a place for some time, entails meeting people and discovering a new region. A team of fourteen people, among which nine Young Explorers, spent three weeks in Port Elizabeth and mainly at the Fontein Primary School. We encountered people. We met people. We explored the region. We discovered ourselves. We have made new friends, and we hope we planted the first seeds to a longterm and sustainable project, a collaboration with not only a school but a community. People who have their own dreams, children who have hopes and dreams. School staff and especially dedicated Teachers with great courage and commitment to the school and local community. The potential is there… lurking… waiting for some help, which the government is unlikely to provide. Here we had a chance to make a difference, bring hope to the children, and make the world a better place with this project.

Here are some of the thoughts from the Young Explorers after the project:

Theresa Christina Kaiser

Germany – December 14, 1994 – 10th Pangaea Expedition to the Everglades, Florida, USA

People can’t decide into which family they are born and where they will grow up. I’m very privileged because I grew up in a safe and wealthy surrounding and see it as my job to help the people who aren’t that privilege that I am. When I heard about that school project in Port Elizabeth I wanted to take part in it from the first second on.

Before we went to the school we already were in contact with the school and we tried to prepare as much as possible but we still didn’t know if everything would work out as we planed to do. We had a lot of different aims to achieve as building a food garden and a play ground, painting murals, painting street games, bringing in rubbish bins and benches, creating awareness… and at some points during the project I thought we are running out of time. Gladly we got a good support from the school and together with our hard work and passion we happily achieved everything we wanted to.

Every day was full of different impressions and I learnt a lot more about their culture. Some days were very emotional for me and on one hand it was very sad to see where the kids live and how much crime and vandalism is part of their everyday life but on the other hand it was heart touching to see them smiling and being thankful. The smile of the kids told me that I couldn’t spend my time better and that it is right what I’m doing here. I’m very thankful for this incredible time at the school, the many new impressions I got and the wonderful team we were.

There is nothing else that could tells you more that the time, work, energy and passion you spend into it is worth it than a smile in kids faces!

Simon Straetker

Germany – December 13, 1993 – 2nd Pangaea Expedition to New Zealand

Never before in my life have I worked in such a strong team of individual talents that complemented each other to an extend of high effectiveness. Because of everyone’s tremendous efforts the project has been so successful.

Some might say that the children at Fontein Combined School are not the most dedicated learners in subjects like maths, geography or English. However when it comes to dancing they proof an outstanding amount of dedication and patience for every little dance move which they practice often enough to perform well. If the kids can apply this strong passion and dedication to other parts of their life’s they can be very successful.

Stefan Oosthuizen

South Africa – March 22, 1989 – Pangaea Borneo Project 2011

In every person’s life come a special moment when he gets tapped on the shoulder with an opportunity to do a very special thing – unique according to his talent. (Winston Churchill)

The Fontein School project was the tap on 9 Young explorers shoulders to do a very special thing for 800 school kids. This special “moment” of 3 weeks during July 2012, not only had a positive impact on the Young Explorers and the Mike Horn team members, Michael, Ben, Quentin and Kevin, but on the whole community who jumped in and got the job done with contagious enthusiasm.

The project was a roaring success. I know in my heart that the school will prove that there are places and communities in our country that want to make the difference. They just need that initial push in the right direction.

Livio Oliver Knöri

Switzerland – 31 December 31, 1991 – 10th Pangaea Expedition to the Everglades, Florida, USA

We were now three weeks at the fontain primary school in Port Elizabeth. For me, from the first day, it was amazing to see how enthusiastic all the kids were. I feel like we could really change something and give a great input to the community. I realised, it’s difficult to give them any materiel things, as it will get lost or stolen. But I think we give them inspiration, motivation and a lot of experiences and that is something no one can take them away.

We saw the kids everyday and we did know that some of them come from poor places. But to go there and see it with my own eyes is a different experience. It was good to see how they live to understand the kids better.

Lani Van Niekerk

South Africa – August 14, 1993 – 11th Pangaea Expedition to the Amazon

This project has really opened my eyes to the problems that people in poverty-stricken areas face every day. Spending time and connecting with some of the children has helped me to better understand the people and cultures in my own country. Once again I have experienced the joy and power of working together to achieve a common goal. But above all, working among incredible, passionate people has left me inspired and ready to tackle more challenges that come my way. I hope that we too have given hope to the people at Fontein Combined School!

A quote by Helen Keller sums up my experiences during the project really well: “The most beautiful things in life cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.” I think all of us can relate to this in some way. This project has touched us all very deeply, and I look forward to returning to the school and all its wonderful people!

 Saskia Angela Bauer

Germany – November 7, 1992 – 8th Pangaea Expedition to the Magnetic North Pole

The Geberit Project in Port Elizabeth was the first project of that kind I’ve been involved and it went so well that it was definitely not the last one. In my opinion we reached all the goals we set ourselves in the beginning and achieved even more. For me it was so great to see how much people appreciate little things and small actions. You don’t always have to make a big present to kids to put a smile on their face, but just to be there for them, be interested in them and care about them makes them a happier child.

During the project the support by the school was very strong and the team moral in our group of young explorers was amazing. We had lots of ideas and also the motivation to realize them.

I think the project was a great success and I really hope that the plants in the food garden will grow, the kids play the tarmac games, use the bins and win lots of matches for their school in the new soccer shirts. We planted the seeds, now they have to be watered to grow big and bring change in the community.

I was very impressed by one boy called Dane. He’s from an English speaking family but visits the Afrikans Fontein Combined School. Dane is one of the most intelligent kids I’ve ever met in my life! He’s curios about everything, asks tons of questions about the German language and so I taught him the days, the numbers and plenty of German words. The next day he came to me again and counted to ten or told me which day we have. He remembered every single word I taught him even if he only heard it once. On the one hand this impressed me so much but on the other hand I ask myself if he will ever get the chance to escape from this environment. He could become really successful if he gets the right support.

These kids need support from outside because there’s almost no chance to escape from this environment that pulls you down every day on your own.

Rebecca Berker

Germany – March 31, 1994 – 6th Pangaea Selection Camp for the Mongolia Expedition

Joining the Pangaea Geberit School Project in South Africa was an eye opening experience. Exploring the country of the rainbows, learning about the local culture and acting together with the community made this project really successful. For sure it wasn´t always easy facing the daily problems at the school but with the support of the locals and the enthusiasm of the other Young Explorers we managed to keep the motivation high so that now after the three weeks I really feel connected with the school, students and teachers and belief we made a difference.

Thank you Becci for making our school beautiful and clean. We promise to keep it need and tidy by throwing our papers into the bins. – This quotation made my day after two full days of clean ups around the school yard and raising awareness on waste management by talking to each class of the entire school because it showed me that the students really made the connection and want to keep their school clean.

 Magdalena Gründl

Germany – April 29, 1992 – 6th Pangaea Expedition to Mongolia

I think all in all we can be proud of what we’ve achieved here at the school in the past three weeks. This was only possible because we, the school and the PE team efficiently worked together and we all tried our best!

To see the kids happily play and jump at the beach was one of the best moments. A smile is the same in every language.

 Kevin Vidoz

Switzerland – October 18, 1997

The first ten day at the school were wonderful! I have met great people and I was very sad to leave before the end of the 3-week project. All the Young Explorers were amazing! I have especially appreciated Simon, Robyn and Stefan for their humour and easygoing characters, as well as Saskia and Rebecca for their numerous translations. Thank you to everyone for having welcomed us, Quentin and myself, as peers among your team!

Thank you very much to the school children who have participated with enthusiasm and interest in the poster and mural designs and creations.

I really hope to see you all again, the school children and the Young Explorers alike. In the meanwhile, I wish you all the best!

Quentin Noto

Switzerland – July 12, 1997

After having spent ten days with the other youngsters, I now have to return to Switzerland. I am a little disappointed not to be able to stay to the end of the project as the school and team were really wonderful. We were honoured by an incredible welcoming ceremony and the kids were awesome, it was a magical experience all around. In helping this project, I really had the feeling to have been able to return a smile to some of the kids we worked with.

I would like to thank all the fellow kids and Young Explorers with whom I worked on the different projects (garden, painting murals, cleanups, etc). From the first encounter, I have made new friends.

As for the Young Explorers with whom I lived and worked with for two weeks, I would like to thank them for all the great moments we spent together. I would like to thank Rebecca especially as she was the first one with whom I was able to speak at ease. I thank Saskia for her translations when we did not understand. And I would like to thank Rebecca, Simon, Lani, Robyn, Saskia, Livio, Stefan, Theresa and Leni for their excellent mood and for integrating us in the team. I really hope to see you again soon, however unlikely that we all find ourselves in the same place again. Thank you!

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