A TOTAL of 36 volunteers are sent from Lower Saxony in Germany to the Eastern Cape every year and this year Liesa Bunge and David Martini are working in Port Alfred to assist in the coaching of sports at Port Alfred High School and Kuyasa Combined School.
They also assist the children at the Ingubo Centre in Nemato with basic life skills such as reading and writing.
During 1995, the Eastern Cape provincial government signed a cultural cooperation agreement with the Government of Lower Saxony in Germany.
Bunge and Martini arrived in Port Alfred in August and volunteer everyday assisting with sports coaching or doing physical exercises with the children from these schools and the children who attend Ingubo Centre. The duo said their main objective was to support teachers at PAHS in their sport disciplines but to also lead the groups of children in Nemato in sport activities such as handball, soccer and netball.
Bunge and Martini have also launched a swimming project where they take children for swimming lessons at the PAHS pool every Friday.
So far, the volunteer work has been rewarding but not without its challenges, Martini said. He said language barriers and the size of the groups could sometimes be difficult to manage but that these are issues they overcome.
“The good thing about sport is that you can demonstrate what to do, it’s the same in every language,” Martini said.
“The children are excited to see us every day. For them we are the only opportunity for sport at school. They really appreciate it,” said Bunge.
Martini explained the programme, which is supported by the German government, is aimed for all of South Africa and they chose the Eastern Cape. They were appointed Port Alfred as their destination for volunteering and have so far been enjoying the experience.
“They [the children] have so much energy and the best is to keep them busy,” Martini added.
Bunge said as a volunteer it’s much easier to build relationships with the children through sport, and that the reward is to see the children all day and see how they enjoy and respond to the activities.