05.04.2014 / Sutherland, South Africa

Today is my last day in Sutherland. I will be driving back to Cape Town tomorrow (a couple of more posts from there!) and then, on Wednesday, fly home from there. I spent two incredibly exciting weeks in this small town in the Karoo; it took a while until people got accustomed to “the stranger with the camera”, but then I was able to get quite close to the community. It was incredible to see how positively the presence of the observatory influences the community on numerous levels. It inspires people’s dreams and imagination – especially that of children and teenagers -, it brings tourists from all over the world to Sutherland and it made for many jobs throughout the community. Like Willem – Willem was born and bread in Sutherland under quite difficult circumstances. With no scientific or academic background at all, a few years ago he had the opportunity to take part in a learner’s program initiated by the observatory. When visitor numbers were getting bigger and bigger, the observatory’s staff could hardly handle the demand anymore – which lead to the idea of training local people to help out once in a while. Willem was one of the trainees, and the passion for astronomy he developed in the course of that trainee-program resulted in a full-time job. He now manages both daytime-tours on site and nighttime stargazing-sessions with incredible knowledge and dedication.


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