Several dreams came true yesterday in an emotional day of welcome and much thanksgiving for CBN and our friends from Sweden and Rotary International.
If you have been watching this website, you will have noticed the escalating excitement as a small plane (a 1935 De Havilland 60 Moth biplane flown from Stockholm Barkarby Airport to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa) approached Stellenbosch Flying Club.
CBN was there with 17 children from Red Hill informal settlement – children we have worked with now for three years. Some familiar faces were there – and some new ones, as always happens. We gave a workshop on Courage and Adventure – in life as well as in small aeroplanes, which featured the classic South African children’s book: Fly, Eagle, fly! by Christopher Gregorowski. The message was that if you dare to dream, as pilot Johan Wiklund and his Swedish family and colleagues did, then your dreams just might come true.
Emotion ran high as the children, well rehearsed in their song of welcome by our facilitator (and strong supporter) Blaq Pearl, our stalwart helpers Rosemary Bangham (who is also our impeccable administration manager) and commmunity reading activist Buyiswa Ponti waited in a line, ready to wave the South African flag. Ian Dewar dealt with the technical matters and assisted in more ways than can be measured and our CEO Roy Zazeraj was there with his wife Sharon and members of the Crankhandle Club with some of their veteran cars. Denzil Jehoma and his co-driver, who always transports out children (‘No Problem’ Denzil!) joined in with enthusiasm.
Our children were unusually solemn as the plane touched down. The importance of the moment did not escape them. We were witnessing a remarkable achievement. We had talked, during the workshop, about courage in small matters as well as huge ones like this. We had discussed issues that require courage when peer pressure runs high. We had spoken of the courage of Johan’s wife and children in letting him fly his dream. We had spoken of the courage and faith they all had in the little plane – and that old things (and people) can still deliver.
‘Is it OUR plane?’ somebody asked anxiously as the plane flew over. And it felt like ‘our plane’ as it landed and we realised for the first time how very small it was, and how very open to the weather and everything Europe and Africa could throw at it. It was a day these children will never forget – and an example that we hope may inspire them to think about courage in their own lives.
Just before the plane touched down, there was an exchange of gifts between CBN and our dear friends from the Rotary Clubs of Skelleftea in northern Sweden and from the City of Skelleftea as well. Hats, toothbrushes and socks for the children, colouring books and pencils, notebooks and pens. There are games for CBN to explore with different groups of children who may not understand each other’s strengths and similarities.
We were joined, just before the landing of the plane, by Rotary District Governor, Geraldine Nicol, who has given support and encouragement to CBN in the past. She was on hand for the announcement of an astonishingly large donation from the Rotary Clubs of Skelleftea and Cape to Cape. We will be forever grateful Thank you Swedish friends, thank you. Yesterday was the end of one journey … and the beginning of another.
There are many, many people to thank. May we begin with Rose-Marie Lindfors who, with her wonderful friends came to help CBN get into action three years ago and has been a champion and supporter ever since. Rose-Marie is a member of Rotary Skelleftea and has continued to be our friend.
Leif Lindquist, also a member of Rotary Skelleftea, who visited us in March with his son Stefan (who has been taking photographs that will be appearing on this website later this week). He is part of the management team of the Cape to Cape project that was behind this historic flight. From that visit grew the idea that CBN could be the beneficiary of fund-raising associated with Johan’s flight and the project Cape to Cape and the Rotary Clubs of Skelleftea. Leif attended yesterday’s event with his sister Berit and her husband and graciously dispensed gifts to the children – and promises of funding to the board of CBN.
To the Rotary Clubs of Skelleftea who have raised an amount of money that will enable to go forward and to plan events and workshops for 2016 that will bring the message that ‘reading is cool’ to more and more children. We cannot thank you enough.
To the City of Skelleftea, who have watched our progress with interest and who have sent messages of support and gifts.
The Stellenbosch Flying Club who could not have been kinder and who gave the children a very warm welcome.
Our friend Emily Hallinan who graciously donated the funding that made it possible for the children to attend the workshop.
Blaq Pearl (Janine van Rooy) who we now count as an integral part of our workshops who facillitated the song of welcome.
The CBN team who loyally spring to the rescue whenever an emergency summons comes up. Thank you Rosemary for always being there, Roy Zazeraj for taking on the onerous task of steering the CBN ship, our board members Anele Mhlahlo, Kenny van Aardt and Mike Walwyn. Also Buyiswa Ponti, our community liaison person in Red Hill.
Rose Bundock who most kindly volunteered, at very short notice, to handle press and communications.
Ian Dewar for technical assistance (and dog-minding during the workshop!) and Denzil and his team for transport and making a sandwich lunch for the children.
Enlighten Education Trust library in Hermanus for the loan (at the very last minte) of books about aeroplanes.
To members of the Crankhandle and MG clubs who attended the event woth their wonderful cars.
To Shane, who missed the rugby to transport his wife (Blaq Pearl) from the workshop!