I have to say I am in awe of what the Panda Crew do. I also love the personal descriptions on the website. They’re really honest and engaging and easily drew me in. Honesty is so important when running or working in a project like this. To the team, excuse me if some of the questions are ones you have heard a thousand times, obviously I will have to ask them for people abroad that know nothing about your project.
With that let’s begin:
1.Where did you get the name Panda Crew and is there any meaning behind it? Also I see you’re based in Bamboo Forest, Coincidence?
Sebastian: It all started with my mother, She called me Panda. During my cancer treatment she bought me my first panda bear and since then I was called Panda. Because we are just random friends with the same mission to make a difference and we had a few discussion about the name, and we ended up calling it #PandaCrew and the motto that #NoOneGetsLeftBehind
2.Do you have any support from any companies or individuals globally? Have you had the opportunities to market or create any real exposure on an International level?
Sebastian: We have received interest form global NGO’s. However, currently we have been more focused on individuals and only recently have we started approaching corporate.
3. What is more beneficial to the Panda Crew and its growth, finance or exposure?
Sebastian: Exposure. We try to focus on making a change and influencing the local communities to make a difference.
Lloyd: It is very difficult for us at the moment to have a good balance between growth, finance and exposure. However we do believe that with the correct amount of exposure we will be able to grow and expand our name and with that our finances will just sort themselves out. Since at this moment in time we do not ask people for money but rather their skills or services or donations of items that we are currently collecting for each project.
4. Johann, Lloyd, Barry and Sebastian, you all seem like pretty strong minded, committed and passionate individuals. You’re all about your cause and from what I can see, have all implemented your individual skills into the brand for growth in different areas.
How do encourage people who are not so sure or rather people who need to know this is not just “another” charity. How do you assure people that this is an active, productive and consistently growing project?
Sebastian: Yes, we are all from different backgrounds but we bring a set of skills towards PandaCrew as individuals, It makes it easy to work as a team and to target all aspects of the community, You don’t have to be something special to make a difference you as any individual person can make a difference in any community. We see ourselves rather as a group as guys and not a charity group.
Lloyd: We all are very different. Sebastian being a doctor. Johann, an interior architect student. Barry a head creative and designer and myself an accountant. This just shows how different we are, but I do believe that is why we get along so well and why we achieve so much. We are just a group of normal guys, trying to change the world one good deed at a time. And I do believe that is what makes us so unique. If you look at the amount of change we actually bring into the world on our social media sites, anyone can see that we are legit and we are actually living up to our motto.
5. This can be quite an emotional project to run and I understand the rewards are basically unexplained in the English language, but how does the team deal with the other side of things. When a project or pitch doesn’t get approved or work, or when you deal with disappointing news, or face something de-motivating?
Lloyd: You are quite right, being part of the PandaCrew can be very emotionally draining and emotionally uplifting at the same time. The feeling of accomplishment is amazing. Knowing that you have changed the lives of someone in need and doing that without expecting any form of acknowledgement or reward is a feeling that I think you will only ever feel the day that you actual do something to help someone who can’t help themselves.
We have been very lucky to have been able to actually carry through every project that we have started thus far into our journey. But with all the ups, there have been low points to. Being friends with all the guys in the PandaCrew is amazing, we are constantly sending each other positive messages of upliftment. There have been some disagreements amongst us, but we very quickly work out those misunderstandings.
Each of us lead separate lives and face our own challenges on a daily basis. However, I reiterate, having the guys from PandaCrew as friends makes life so much better. So basically even when things don’t always go our way, or the way we would have liked things to be, we accept that it was not meant to be and that things worked out that way for a reason and only to lead us on to a bigger and better opportunity or project.
6.You state that you care for 2 legged and 4 legged beings. How do you work with the 4 legged fluffiness and how can people get involved in helping you help animals. Do you work with a specific vet/SPCA or shelter? And what form of assistance are you giving? Home finding, vet visits, feeding programs, rescue missions etc?
Sebastian: Our first 4 legged project was with Vanderbijlpark SPCA. We focused on cleaning and making sure the environment was fixed. Making it comfortable for the 4 legged family. We do deliver food and blankets to the SPCA from donations we receive.
7.Do any of you have families of your own? Wives, husbands, partners, or children, and if so how do you integrate the two, how much involvement do your families have?
Sebastian: I’m currently single. My family is very involved with the projects always giving something towards my projects, and they will always tell other people about the projects and that how the rest gets involved.
Lloyd: I’m single. Currently I find myself too busy to have anything of the sort. Working a 7 to 5 job and having a rather active social life with blogging keeps me busy enough. But I am very lucky that my family and friends are always involved in everything that I do and everything that we take on as PandaCrew and that they are very supportive of what we do.
Barry: I’m still single, but my family (mom and 2 sisters) are extremely excited about PandaCrew, they push me when I’m tired, to keep going and finish a document or a design that I have to do for PandaCrew and always want to see what we do next. They are also an endless fountain for inspiration for me.
Johann: I’m currently single. My mom and my brother are my biggest supporters in my life. They stand behind me and encourage me to be the best I possibly can be. But my PandaCrew boys are there for me every step of the way, they are my rock and my support. Without these boys my life would have been one massive mess. They have opened my eyes to so many things and so it is easy for me to do what I do because I have amazing people behind me.
Blush…..all single you say? Don’t blame me if your phone’s start ringing he he he he he
8. The Band Flo? What and where did the concept to have a band come into the project? I LOVE the idea and think it’s wonderful, but am very interested about how it came about
Barry: The Flo Band join the PandaCrew because of the joint passion they share with us in cancer awareness and two of the band members themselves have lost someone close to them to cancer. They lost their mom to cancer and they saw what we stand for and the awareness that we had started creating at that point and they had the urge to join up with us and it just ended up being a perfect fit. Since then it has been a rather amazing journey with them and they are amazing guys who are true heroes who bring us lots of joy and pleasure in their music.
Lloyd: Can you share an image with us that you’ve taken. Something that emotionally rocked you while working with the Panda Crew, the image can be sad or happy, but it must be by your hand and in your heart.
Lloyd: Not entirely the best photograph that I have taken, but I took this photo on Constitution Hill on 21 April at the LeadSA #NoToXenophobia vigil. It was a night where South Africans could stand together and take a stand and say #NoToXenophobia. This is where I snapped this photo of this 4 year old boy that was at the vigil with his parents. It was then that I realized that we all have a part to play in the bigger picture, no matter what your age. And this little boy was out there that night to show his support with his family.
Barry: You state your personally mission is to at least make someone smile once a day. Have you ever been reminded by a person you’ve worked with or by a project you’ve worked on, to smile. In other words, have you ever found yourself on the other side of the fence, and when you did how did you feel when someone else lifted you up, gave you hope, gave you encouragement?
Barry: Oh, I have to say last year (2014) on Father’s Day I left the gym in a complete emotional state, I lost my dad twice in my life when he walked out on our family and when he passed away (I was around the age of 16 at that time he passed away). I got in my car extremely angry and frustrated. I took my phone to call Sebastian, as he answered my FaceTime call he started the conversation with a funny face and then saw how upset I was and just started to talk to me, a few minutes later about 45 minutes later I was laughing still sitting in my car in the parking lot of the gym.
He told me who I became and what I’ve accomplished. I ended the call drove home and felt exceptionally happy and had a smile on my face. The last word Sebastian said to me was “now Smile” and I did. Every morning #MyPeople as I call the boy’s (Sebastian, Johann, Lloyd) puts my smile on my face as we start sending messages to each other to say how kick ass we think we are to each other. So they are the reason I have I want to pay it forward and make someone else smile and feel the joy I feel every time I talk get a call or a message form #MyPeople.
Sebastian: How do you deal with society’s stereotypes, and do they affect your business?
For example, I am a Black South African from a White Afrikaans/German Family, with slight natural red tinge to my hair, a British Accent and scars from all my old piercings.
Do you ever find people judge you on appearances alone, tattoos, large build etc. And how can you take that assumption and use it productively in regards to giving people information on your project? Also, who does your tattoos? They’re great.
Sebastian: Stereotypes I have seen and encountered it many time in my life, But after a while talking to them they sort of understand where I come from and why I am the man they see, I’m a white South African from a Dutch/Afrikaans and German family (Special breed I guess)
And covered in tattoo’s from my whole life experiences on this earth; My tattoo’s are scares from my heart and showing them on my skin is a way of protecting myself and my heart.
I have been judged my whole life for how I look and what I wear. And some people think that I’m this arrogant individual (German) But when I start talking to people the they get a whole new prospective of who I really am, when I mention I’m doing charity work and helping kids/adult and fury friends they kinda look confused, But when I show them the #PandaCrew images and videos they start to understand.
And when I have their attention I just blast off with my ideas and how I wanna change the world with my Crew, Barry, Lloyd, Johann and Janus are the greatest men I have ever met and we doing something right and I will never take that for granted ever!
My artist is Trevor Rogers, his shop is in Three Rivers Vereeniging (Dragon Fire Tattoo’s) I know him for 10 years now, He did my first tattoo, Nike sign on my ankle, I was running for liberty Nike at that time, Since then we just built this brother relationship, and we will talk while he does my tattoo, and every time I bring a new design he will say to me another challenge. Trev is like a brother and I trust him and his work is brilliant and I will never go to another artist, It’s a kind of loyalty you build with a person and we respect each other. (Thank you for the kind compliment)
Johann: Your mom sounds legendary. Taking the experience and life she showed you growing up as a child, and as you credit it for your reason for doing what you do now. How important do you find open exposure to projects and truths like this in life are to young people? Do you think that parents, teachers etc have a responsibility and duty to talk about and give information?
Johann: Growing up in a small town there was always a need to help the less fortunate. My mom is a very active person in the community and that is where I saw the need to help people , from a young age I told my mom that I wanted to be part of something greater , something that’s is special to me !
For me the foundation was laid when I was still a young school boy. So in a way it’s important to educate the young mind of today about problems we face as South African! The youth of today is tomorrow’s pioneers! I personally think we have to talk about problems we as South Africans face, we have to open our eyes to what is really going on. As young people we are blinded by technology.
We would rather listen to a song on the radio that listen to the news. So for me it’s really important for parents and teacher to educate the youth of today. We need to talk poverty, hunger, crime and racism, just by talking about a topic creates awareness, it makes you think and wonder how you as a person can help change the community.
Thank you to the Panda – Crew.
I love what you’re doing and I suggest and motivate more people to get involved.
Keep on the good work you all deserve great things in your futures
And As Always…