Volkswagen Walmer township


Uplifting the needy in Walmer township

Champion of the less fortunate, German national Rolf Meder and the Ubuhlobo Project volunteers recently completed their 15th philanthropic outreach to the Eastern Cape.

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Meder, a retired school teacher of over 30 years, started the Ubuhlobo Project in 1999 and has since been doing great work in various underprivileged areas, especially Port Elizabeth’s Walmer township.

The project has worked hand-in-hand with Volkswagen Group South Africa to uplift the less fortunate.

“I first came to South Africa in 1998 with a group of German pastors who played soccer. As a tourist, we were offered the opportunity to stay in the Walmer township for a few days, which was a real eye-opener,” said Meder.

“After that experience, I knew I wanted to make a difference in this community.”

Over the past 15 years, the Ubuhlobo Project has embarked on impressive social projects, including the building of a church and cultural centre as well as founding two crèches in Walmer township.

“The building of the church and cultural centre, which is the home of the one crèche, has been a 10-year process. There have been many upgrades to the centre along the way. We started the first crèche classroom with a container that was donated by VWSA. We installed a playground and garden for the kids and are currently in the process of building a guard house on the property,” said Meder.

These projects would not all be possible without the selfless commitment from the project volunteers, who are all young First Aiders and belong to the German Emergency Services called Malteser.

The volunteers impart their live-saving First Aid training to the teachers, parents, churches and youth groups they visit.

“We first started with basic First Aid training, but soon realised that there was a need for more information and education in other areas. So we have expanded the programme to include training and education on HIV/Aids, teen pregnancy and tuberculosis,” said Meder.

The project’s various training initiatives have touched the lives of many, including the students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the disabled in the Motherwell and Saltville areas and the youth communities in the Cacadu District Municipality.

A first for the Ubuhlobo Project has been the start of a kindergarten exchange programme.

“This year, we brought a German pre-school teacher with the team to help train the teachers at the two crèches. This programme will bring the South African pre-school teacher to Germany for a three-week training course next year.” Meder said.

For his 40 years of volunteerism, Rolf was recently awarded the highest civil award in Germany, the Bundesverdienstkreuz. He is only one of a handful of German citizens who received this prestigious honour this year.

“I would sincerely like to thank VWSA, who every year without fail provides the project with much-needed transport.  Also last year, VWSA donated a container, which we renovated into a school classroom for our kindergarten children,” he said. “Without that assistance, this would not all be possible.”

“We have proudly supported the Ubuhlobo Project for over 10 years and value the difference they are making in the local community,” comments Matt Gennrich, VWSA General Manager of Communications.