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Family life in Germany . 2011

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to travel to Germany. I was only 17 at the time and had no idea that trip would have an affect on my personal life.

What really stood out for me was the life at home. My host families made me feel as though I was part of the family and I never felt homesick. Although everyone was busy with work and school, they still spent time together.

My host family created some special moments for me, they showed me around the town, they took me for my first rollercoaster ride and we had a family barbeque. But more memorable for me are the things that seem to be normal in their family life. I remember going for a bike ride around Lago Laprello a beautiful lake with Stephan, my host father and it felt so strange to me because it’s something that I never did with my own father. He just never had the time or the patience like Stephan had. I wasn’t good at riding a bike and made a lot of little accidents but to him it was okay and then I started to relax and had fun. Even sitting together – having breakfast or dinner with the whole family and talking – made me realise that that’s what I want for my own family someday.

Back at home my own family wasn’t that close or spent time together. Today as a mother I still remember those moments and try to implement it at home. I remember how happy I felt and I see how happy my son is when we go for walks together or just sit and talk about his day.

I’ve built relationships with people who l can call true friends and can never forget the impact and role they have played in my life. The trip opened many doors for me. I met Mr Backhaus, an English teacher, and Mrs Krewald, the principal at a school in Heinsberg. They, along with 7 teachers, offered me a private bursary to study Beauty Therapy. Without their help I wouldn’t have been able to study further and follow my passion of being a beautician.

But it didn’t stop there, my host family and some friends and family helped me start my own business from home. They also came to visit me in Manenberg in 2019. They got to see the projects that we did during the partnership and where I live. I was very happy to introduce them to my family and to show them where I live and the difference in lifestyles. They are also always interested in my son. It feels good to know that I have a family so far across the ocean but still so close to me.

Of course non if this would be possible if I hadn’t met Norbert and Uta and joined the partnership in 2009. Norbert has helped me so much in my personal life and I can call him a true friend. I feel that this partnership can open many doors for learners. It will open the eyes of the youth and show them that there is more to life and that there is better out there.

Cleon Botha

I am 27 years old and I live in Manenberg, Cape Town. I joined the partnership in 2009 when I was in grade 9 and participated in the Colourful Bus Shelters project with Norbert and Uta. The following year I participated in a project with German learners, where we built a school garden at our school, Phoenix High. That’s when I became part of the school exchange program and could travel to Germany in 2011.