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Paternoster Projects look ahead

The Paternoster Project has helped bring a “message of hope” to the children of the town for years, and local and international delegates recently held a conference to plan the project’s future.

The non-profit is a joint programme between South Africa and German citizens, to empower the children of Paternoster with a vision for their future, whatever their social and economic background.

The conference, held from 23 to 25 October, was attended by 70 delegates from South Africa, Germany and Namibia.

The conference was attended by community leaders, parents, representatives of the Department of Education, Boland Rugby and the Saldanha Bay Municipality, academics of Stellenbosch University, various institutions in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and a team of eight volunteers.

In-depth papers were delivered and spirited discussions took place on the Paternoster Project’s vision of equipping youth and maintaining the local heritage.

In her welcome address, Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and Arts in Baden-Württemberg, described the project as a “shining example”, serving as a “model for future cooperation”.

“The local participation in the project has grown tremendously, and this is reflected by the conference,” according to Maike Reinhardt, manager of the Volunteer Project.

“She said high interest from communities in Namibia and Swellendam was shown in a similar project.

“We want to transfer our learnings and experience to other regions where the children need additional support. With this in mind we will start pilot projects in Namibia and Swellendam next year.”

Discussions also took place on child health, sports development and community involvement as well as innovative school concepts.

Workshops focused on various aspects such as pioneering plans for a children’s village, which is to be developed in consultation with the Paternoster community.

This extension of the current children’s house will in time welcome 180 children to its educational and recreational facilities.

The objectives of the conference held in the spirit of learning from one another were to evaluate the achievements of the volunteer project after three years.

Delegates also mapped out an action plan for year four.

According to Christian Neuber, who established the foundation Kinder Fördern-Zukunft Stiften, the conference expressed how people share a common goal and passion in what is being done in Paternoster and other regions as well as parts of the world.

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