As 2011 draws to a close, I cannot help but reflect on the many blessings that have come upon our family this year. One of my greatest blessings was being able to continue my humanitarian and relief aid project in South Africa.
Todd and I first traveled to South Africa in 2007 in pursuit of Cape Buffalo with Shingani Safaris. (http://www.shingani.com) Prior to our trip, our PH Riaan Vosloo, suggested we bring school supplies for the local public school. I gathered a few dollars from co-workers and set aside my own funds to buy pencils, paper, glue, scissors, and the like, for the school children. Little did I know what squalor and despair I would find when we delivered the items. I knew the area we were traveling through was impoverished, but I had no idea exactly what these children were living with (or without) until I saw it with my own eyes. The school had very few supplies and relied entirely upon donations. I later learned that many of these donations came from American hunters on vacation. If it weren’t for the generosity of the hunters, the school would not flourish.
The situation only deteriorated when Riaan’s wife, Charmaine, took us to a local crèche (or day care) for the children of local tobacco farm workers. These toddlers were without diapers, or in diapers several days old. They were covered in filth. When their clothes became too small, or too soiled, the were simply “cut to fit” (i.e., pants legs and sleeves would be shortened, or the toes of shoes cut out). Each child’s eyes and nose were crusted over. Their faces and arms were covered with open sores. A flurry of flies hovered close by.