If you’ve ever driven the scenic main road between Fish Hoek and Simons Town, chances are you’ve seen the big blue Pisces Divers sign on your left. Although most renowned for their stellar service as a professional diving centre, few are acquainted with the good work they are involved in when it comes to community development in the southern peninsula. As one of LifeXchange’s most consistent contributors over the years, we thought it was time to catch up with the owner, Mike Nortjé, and talk about the ethos behind their involvement.
EH: Tell us a bit about your current community involvement?
MN: We do a marine explorers programme called Save Our Seas with the kids from Capricorn and Vrygrond. It’s a term by term programme that progresses according to the weakest swimmer. Most of these kids are not really aquatically able, so we spend a long time with them in the pool before even going into the sea. We’re not trained and we don’t do swim coaching, but if they can at least swim, we can get them more comfortable in the pool, and by choosing the sites appropriately, get them into easy water. In this way they are still be able to see the beauty of the ocean but don’t have to deal with waves and currents, so we moderate it according to their ability.
EH: What has been your involvement with LifeXchange these last couple of years?
MN: We support LifeXchange in terms of equipment and facility. We use the snorkeling to get youth at-risk into a healthier environment and facilitate a learning experience for the mentor and mentee. In this way, both parties are put in a more vulnerable place that helps with building trust and relationship. Mentees can see their mentors, who are often just as incompetent at diving, are also not sorted out in all areas of their life and in this way help make them more relatable.
EH: It seems like you have a real heart to get involved! What would you say is the driving force behind this?
MN: Well, any business has got a relationship with the community. However, since we primarily work with those in the higher-income bracket, it’s very important for us to put something back in a tangible way. By making our facility available for a broader range of people, we see it as a small social responsibility initiative that we can support. It’s great for me and our staff, and it’s inspiring to see youth who wouldn’t have access to something like snorkeling, which is on their doorstep and part of their heritage here, actually engaging with it. To be able to help them with that is very rewarding.
EH: We can definitely say that our mentees love the experience. Do you feel like you’re making a difference in this way?
MN: We do. You can see straight away it was an amazing experience for them. Just taking them out of the normal stuff that they’re dealing with on a day-to-day level and showing them something new that transports them away from their normal reality for a couple of hours, means so much.
It was clear from our conversation with Mike that Pisces Divers is a company that puts back. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for their continued contribution to the mentoring cause by facilitating a safe environment for mentors and mentees to build a deeper sense of trust and confidence in each other. We continue to believe companies like theirs, who are committed to the community, serve as shining examples for what businesses can do to help build a stronger nation in the long run!
For more information, visit www.piscesdivers.co.za
by Esther Hamman