R100 of R20 000 raised

My name is Kirsten Poking, I am 23 years old and on the verge of becoming a PADI Instructor. This story is not about me. This is about another aspiring PADI instructor that likes to go by the name G.K. abbreviated (and I’m not kidding about this) “God knows”.

He is 30 years old and lost both his parents by the time he turned 17. He was then taken in by close family friends that have cared and loved him as their own ever since. Now when he told his second parents that he, a young Zimbabwean man, wanted to become a PADI Diving Instructor, I can imagine that like most parents they were a little concerned at his job prospects in Zimbabwe.

Just think about it, a young black man, in a landlocked country, aspiring to become not just a diver but a diving instructor! And what water is available is teeming with crocodiles! Nevertheless, they supported him in his endeavor and with the help of his uncle, GK made the trip out to South Africa to train and Intern at one of the leading PADI Instructor institutions in South Africa, with a 5-star Career Development Course in Cape Town.

This is where I first met this amazing young man.

When I met GK I naturally asked what it stood for, to which he replied: “God Knows”. At first, I thought that they were joking and then he reassured me that that was definitely on his birth certificate! Wow, what a wickedly witty name and now that I know him a bit better, it definitely suits him because he has this calm knowing manner that makes you feel at ease when you feel the world spinning out of control.

Unfortunately, my time getting to know this wonderful intern would be short-lived because I joined about two months before he was scheduled to start his IDC (Instructors Development Course) course and then IE (Instructors Exam). During this time I have progressed from PADI Open Water up to PADI Rescue Diver and with 34 dives logged under my belt. I then only needed 6 more dives to begin my PADI Dive Masters course and guess who was there to help me log those dives, GK.

This is where the plot thickens and the sad reality sets in that the limitations of money and what happens when you pursue your dream but falls short of having just enough to make it achieve your goal. GK and the 5 other interns were scheduled to start their IDC at this point, but later I discover that only 5 will be continuing the course to become PADI instructors because GK needed a bit more time to make the final payments to the dive shop.

So he had to put his internship on hold and would complete his IDC and IE with me in a few months’ time.

Now I don’t know about you, but if that were me and I knew I was so close to achieving one of my dreams and it had to be halted because of financial difficulties, I would be depressed and not the best person to be around. Not GK though, he was so calm and collected and helpful every day that I hadn’t the slightest clue that he was not even participating in the IDC with his fellow interns that he started with.

Then GK was asked to help me log my last 6 dives over the next couple of days and for convenience sake, we went to Long Beach in Simons Town. Unfortunately, we arrived there just as the interns were finished with their Ocean test for the Instructors Exam and were having a little celebration and photo session. So we congratulated them, but couldn’t stick around and had to use a different site to log dives. I could see that GK was happy for all the guys that passed and that he wished that he could have been celebrating with them as well.

Later that evening, as is the tradition in the shop, the owner treated the newly minted PADI Instructors to a party to celebrate and everyone in the shop was invited. So this gave us an opportunity to talk and although GK can be quite a quiet person, he usually interacts with everyone fairly easily. That night, though, he was unusually quiet and I could see that he was a bit disheartened that he hadn’t been able to complete his IDC. In the end, he put aside his own troubles and was there for his buddies and continued to be upbeat every day after that with a kind word to anyone in the shop that might have been having a rough day. He soon after took a break to visit his family in Zimbabwe.

I wish I could have done something for him then. I didn’t and since that time I have been so caught up in my own internship that I had not given a second thought to all of this.

When GK returned to Cape Town a few weeks ago (coincidentally the very night that President Robert Mugabe was put under house arrest) and needed a place to stay, I asked my mom if we could host him, and she agreed. So my family and I have had the pleasure of hosting GK and getting to know him better and yet I still had no idea that he was under financial stress over completing payments for his IDC and IE as he never let that affect his work life or his home life with us! Amazing, because he would also try and make sure that he helped out by buying small things in the house, even when we reassured him that his stay with us would not be a burden at all and that he just needs to focus on his upcoming IDC.

GK had returned to South Africa with the undertaking that a family member would sponsor the rest of the diving course, unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, his family cannot continue making the payments towards GK’s PADI Instructors Certification.

Then a few days ago, he was given a final reminder to make the full and final payment before the IDC starts on the 4th of December 2017. I know many people would look at this and think that it’s too little too late, but I also know that every little bit counts and I am hoping that with the combined efforts of the masses that our little bit can help this young man reach his dreams and go on to do great things. Because in the short time I have known GK he has given me insight into how to be humble and strong and not let the weight of the world weigh you down so much so that you bring others down with you.

GK has helped me become a better diver through his example and he lives and breathes diving. If anyone person deserved to become a PADI Diving Instructor, it is GK. He goes above and beyond and tries in every way to make sure that if there is something that needs to be done to help the shop run smoothly then he does it without complaint. He is an inspiration and a diver of good quality and moral standards. Hopefully, someday you will also have the pleasure of making his acquaintance until then let us do what we can to help him achieve his dream J

So in conclusion, I am sharing this information with all of you wonderful people of Cape Town or South Africa or even the World in order to ask that we please raise at least R20 000 by the 4th December 2017 towards paying the remainder of his fee to the dive shop, which still excludes the ± £575 that need to be paid directly to PADI. GK is unaware that I am doing this for him, he is a humble man, but a man nevertheless and wouldn’t normally burden another person with his troubles. I have refrained from asking him how much is owed, but hope that at least R20 000 will help put a dent in it. After all the overall cost, including PADI registration, comes to about ±R75 000 depending on the exchange rate at the time. So every little bit helps.

He knew from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be easy. Not the skills, theory or the payments. Nevertheless, he dived right in because the ocean called to him (yes, that is a Moana reference) and it is rare to find a person that is strong enough to answer the call of their heart and pursue their dreams even with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their way. I hope this speaks to the inner dreamer in all of us and that we can show this young man that God truly does know and through His children, He is looking after him.

I’m not really sure how this works, but I know that sometimes when we need a bit of help, it’s best to just ask and then we’ll figure out the nitty gritty afterward. I will keep you posted on what happens next.

I hope this reaches everyone and I want to thank you for taking the time to read this far and that you got to know a little bit more about GK. Please feel free to contact me for any more details or how best you wish to support GK in becoming a PADI Instructor.

Warm Regards and Happy Diving J


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