Paul Miedema changed our lives. It is through Paul that we connected with the A.V. Bukani Primary School community, a wonderful place we now consider our second home.
But Paul did more than connect us – he was our support, our mentor, our ally, and our friend. Just a few weeks ago, we had a long conversation with Paul about a possible sixth volunteer trip to Nomathomsanqa.
Paul defined the word “authentic.” He had no tolerance for BS and never sugar-coated anything. And that is why we absolutely trusted him. We knew he would tell us the truth. How often do you have someone in your life that you can trust like that?
Paul was devoted to two things – his daughters and his country. And they were closely tied together. He worked tireless to build a strong South Africa that he could leave for his children, and one that would support everyone’s children because he knew you could not separate the two. A strong South Africa had to promote respect for every person of every background or it would not be a strong country.
Paul is one of those people who truly made a difference in his daily life. Our hearts are breaking that he cannot continue this work. And yet his legacy is the many colleagues he supported within and beyond Calabash, as well as the many volunteers whose eyes he opened and whose hearts he inspired.
You will be missed Paul. Thank you for all you gave to us and everyone around you.
Eileen and Larry
(frequent volunteers with A.V.Bukani School since 2009)
(and this from volunteer Cecily, a colleague of Eileen & Larry)
Having worked directly with Paul in the summer of 2010 at the Nomathamsanqa elementary school (with Eileen & Larry), I am shocked and so saddened by this news. Paul first appeared to me as a tall, English-speaking white guy who ran tours… but over the course of my two weeks, I learned how absolutely gifted he was at organizing, listening, and proactively addressing each and every concern and issue of the teachers, the administration, and us as volunteers with our own set of challenges.
His integrity and dedication was evident in every one of his interactions and wonderful hugs.
I mourn for his family, for his work family, and also for the communities which he so lovingly lifted up.
I will remember Paul with respect and reverence.
My deepest sympathy,