By John Dierx

Coming over for a CASO-meeting is always something to look forward to. First of all to meet everybody. Skype is only doing so much but nothing can beat seeing and talking to all who are now known and feel like CASO relatives. It gives opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge and personal stories that eventually results in deeper understanding in professional perceptions and actions. It’s so enjoyable to experience that these meeting hardly fall under the category of ‘working’.

Long ‘working’ hours
In terms of progress, the week in South-Africa felt like a stepping stone to the next level. Interactions were much more intense. Occasionally emotions ran high, only because there was a deep respect at the base of all. Everybody was open to feedback and that made this week extra special. Long nights and early mornings, still drunk from emotions of the night before or more. Ready to start another intensive day. Starting with teambuilding sessions that really were icebreakers, setting up for workpackage assignments. And this to me really delivered.

It was in the air for the whole week, but for me this became most visible on closing day. The presentations showed in a nutshell the result of all workpackages. I was completely baffled by the program and plans of wp 2.1. Where wp2.3 and wp 2.2 where progressing steadily, wp2.1 kind of leaped forward from a conceptual framework and far developed pilot towards a full blown program only to be left with executing. Incredible credits to this team working hard to both making a program and becoming an orchestra of beating drums. Whether or not the djembe session gave the final push, we’ll never know.

Making a difference
The most impressive experience of this week was the visit to Drakenstein Association for Persons with Disabilities – APD. I was touched by the dedication of the voluteers working to make the difference in childrens lives between nothing and everything. No words can describe what this does to people and hhow insignificant I felt at that moment. And then on thursday evening, a next level of community engament followed. At the local rugby match between CPUT and Rhodes ‘Varsity’ I was envited to hand over the prestigious Man of the Match prize that luckily went to a player of CPUT. What an honour to be directly invloved in a local sports tradition. However this didn’t even come close to the APD experience, it was an unforgetable moment. Well …for me! I doubt whether the player and man of the match even had the slightest idea who I was or why the on earth I had to hand him this prize.

Parting is such a sweet sorrow
So where I look forward getting home to my wife and kids, its always so sad to say goodbye to everybody for half a year…or more concerning Karien. I feel so sad seeing her leave for her new challenge in New Zealand and just hoping we see eachother again. Knowing, however that the rest of the CASO-family will meet again in Antwerp in november this year makes all the difference. Can’t wait…

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