Mei 2017: Vision AfriKa’s Operations Manager Gerrit Laning in Nederland
Lees hieronder een impressie van Gerrit Laning over zijn bezoek aan Nederland afgelopen mei. Met dank aan Emma en de familie Berkhout kon Gerrit een week lang de Hollandse cultuur proeven, spreken op een succesvol Vision AfriKa Europe evenement in Amsterdam, de vrijwilligers ontmoeten en bedanken voor hun tomeloze inzet en zien hoe soortgelijke programma’s als die van Vision AfriKa worden gerund in Rotterdam. Al met al een enerverende en succesvolle week voor zowel Gerrit als Vision AfriKa Europe.
"So organised and structured" was his first thought as Gerrit stepped into Schiphol Airport. Coming from South Africa, where chaos and dysfunctionality seem to be the norm, European efficiency struck him as...well.... different! There and then he decided to follow his own advice often given to the youth in the Vision AfriKa programmes, by steering away from value judgements and to rather just enjoy and appreciate the "different" he saw and experienced around him.
Walking out into the sunshine, he had to laugh at his bag full of preconceived notions, one of which was that it is always cold in the Netherlands (causing him to only pack warm clothes, a decision he regretted the whole week) and later in the day while walking with host Emma along the beautiful Kralingse Plas in Rotterdam, the notion that there is no more "natural spaces" left and that "all spaces have been cultivated", was also rudely disrupted and re-aligned with the reality of an exquisite natural area in a big city!
Feeling tired after a long day, he checked his watch and was astonished to see it was already 21:00 with the sun still shining. Northern hemisphere in summer..., just one more of the many surprises in store and it was only the end of day 1.
The main aim of the visit was to promote the work of Vision AfriKa as a guest of Stichting Vision AfriKa Europe and his first opportunity came at a beautiful event organised by the volunteer committee behind Vision AfriKa Europe on 21 May. The backdrop of the Zuid-Afrikahuis in Amsterdam could not have been more fitting and the evening was made all the more interesting through very good questions and even better food and drinks.
On the way back with his hosts, the Berkhout family in Rotterdam, he was intrigued by one question: "Why would people who are so far away, care about children and young people in South Africa?" Finding no definitive answer, he had to be content in his sincere gratitude towards those who DO care.
The rest of the week was a perfect mix of doing some Vision AfriKa work in a different setting (ah, the wonders of the internet and connectivity), seeing more people and then also doing amazing "touristy" things. Choosing his favourite town or experience became an unfair competition. Amsterdam or Rotterdam? (Perhaps he should choose according to soccer champions....Feyenoord-Oh, how he loves to support the underdogs!), Delft or the Hague... de Randstad or Groningen... Cities or the amazing countryside. Groninger koek, fresh Goudse stroopwafels or patatfriet... Too many experiences for 1 week. A lifetime of unforgettable memories.
On the plane back he realised it was the people that won the competition. A family that opened the doors of their hearts, house and garden. The friendly pastor in a church in the Hague who invited him in for coffee, no agenda. New friends that shared meals and conversation in Amsterdam and next to the Hofvijver. And then there were the people from Vreewijk, Rotterdam. Moms struggling to make ends meet, but willing and wanting the best for their children's education and others committed to lending a supporting hand.
And as he approached Cape Town, Gerrit had to smile again, content with bags full of memories and the knowledge that there are still people who care about people.