Charity work can be daunting, especially if one tends to get emotionally involved with those you are trying to help. Unfortunately, being emotional is part of doing the job; you cannot give comfort or offer a kind word to someone without emotion being involved.
What often gets to me is the fact that there are SO MANY people in need and the facts and figures one is bombarded with on the internet only serves to emphasize the problem. The thing is, despite our efforts to make the world a better place, there will always be those in need. We may be able to bring down the global statistics, but somewhere, someone is going to be disregarded. I don’t mean to sound negative, it is just the reality of the situation. But that is why we should all take hands and work TOGETHER, those of us who can, should give a voice to those who have none.
That has been the whole reason behind my work – giving voice, standing up and fighting for those who cannot. I’ve committed myself to supporting more than 30 facilities (day care centers, schools, orphanages, places of safety, community centers, etc) in and around my hometown (Pretoria, South Africa), a venture I started a few years back. Among the 30+ facilities I support there are about 15 orphanages and places of safety, this amounts to approximately 2.000 children, which is not that many when using global statistics as you point of reference, however, that doesn’t make them less important. We are, in fact, talking about 2.000 children; ones that we have the power to help. I remember how overwhelmed I was when I visited them the first time. It was as if I’ve been blind my whole life and suddenly I was confronted by the harsh reality – people still living without electricity and water, babies left abandoned in the fields, children wandering around on a school day dressed in rags…..I couldn’t believe my eyes and yet, this was happening and it was happening here, in MY country, MY town, basically in my neighbourhood. And to think that it was only the tip of the iceberg. The poverty was bad, but what haunted me (and still do) are the individual stories told by the caregivers at these places. Some so horrific and unbelievable, it made me wonder how one human being can do this to another. Don’t we value life at all anymore? Or did poverty force these people to make such terrible decisions?
I know none of these stories are unique; I know it happens every day in the world – children, tiny newborns, are abandoned by parents, toddlers (and even teens) are dumped on the orphanage doorstep, sometimes without reason, most without references or names – the parents just disappear. Many of these little ones are not so lucky to be “picked up” by the nice orphanage lady, some end up elsewhere to be used as labourers or sex workers when they come of age. Others are left in the open field or in trash cans; some are flushed down the toilet. Other children are left in the care of the state, because their parents are dead or dying of HIV/Aids or some other disease or are killed in confrontation with someone else, some parents are simply not able to take care of the children – they are drug addicts or alcoholics or financially unable to provide for their families…some children are removed from their parents by force, because of abuse. Whatever the reason, every time I visit one of these places, there are more children. Children that need to be fed, clothed, educated and, above all else, loved. I’ve been pondering this issue….
It bothers me that, in this day and age, when everyone claims to know everything; we claim to be so ‘’enlightened’’ but still we keep on producing children and then, promptly, abandon them to their own devices. It would seem that our generation is made up mostly of a bunch of irresponsible, unemotional, downright cold-hearted, egomaniacs….and I’m sorry if I sound offensive, but I have to speak my mind about this issue. We love to have the fun, but we avoid the responsibility and then also manage to avoid guilt, by passing on our little ‘problem’ to someone else so that we can continue to “enjoy life”. I can understand that some parents have good reason to give a child up, but then you do it legally and make sure that he or she are sent to a loving home – there are organizations that can deal with this in a professional, ethical and confidential manner. You don’t have to wrap baby in a towel and drop him on the steps in front of an orphanage or police station…..seek help, it is available.
Despite my anger at the unfairness of it all, of bringing an innocent life into the world and then just throwing it away, I am not in a position to judge even those who need judgment. People do what they do, they make their choices and have their reasons. So despite my blowing off steam about this, I cannot change the way of the world and I cannot point fingers, but what I can do is to try to make a difference. The fact is that these children are in desperate need of help, of love and care and if someone doesn’t come forward to do something to change their lives, they will most definitely make the same mistakes that their parents did and that, people, will not do us any good at all. Children ARE the future, if we build them up, show them the way, we will be able to HAVE a future in this world.
I have made my choice, I’ve chosen to spend my life supporting these people, no matter what. Now, I don’t do much….I source donations, try to fulfil urgent needs, visit them and offer some comfort, spread the word about their plight on social media….it’s something, but, I’m afraid, it is not a lot, definitely not enough. Sometimes I feel that what I do doesn’t begin to help anyone at all and yes, sometimes I consider stopping the work altogether….but I press on. Why? Well, let me explain…
I may not be doing enough, but at least I’m doing something and the little bit I do has never been thrown in my face, it has been received gratefully. I know many donors feel that their contribution is too small, too insignificant, that your tiny contribution doesn’t really make a difference…it does, believe me. Let me tell you a story: a few years back I visited a community center in Mabopane, about 30km north of Pretoria CBD. We were having a Christmas party on behalf of a project I’m still involved with today. Many of the children at the center received their allocated gifts (we got a list of their names beforehand and gifts were neatly packed, wrapped and labelled by generous donors), however the entire community (to take a wild guess, it must have been 700 people) arrived at the party, drawn by the music and the celebratory tent. Fortunately I’ve learned through experience that, when visiting a facility, one needs to be prepared for eventualities, so I filled my car with soft toys that I bought at a bargain shop in town. The children who didn’t get the pretty, bright gifts each received a soft toy….ONE SOFT TOY….they were overjoyed! They felt important, despite the fact that they didn’t get the BIG GIFT with all the trimmings; they felt that someone, somewhere did indeed care for them.
This is something that I’ve seen many times, especially with the children….the innocent ones. They are happy with whatever they get, as long as they can see it is given with love. Sometimes they don’t even have to receive anything, they will be happy just for some attention.
I’ve learned another thing that day, watching these little ones run around with their new teddy bears, fluffy bunnies and stuffed ducks; it made an impression on them, one that may last a lifetime. Think of it this way, every time you touch someone’s life, you change that person’s path, the way he thinks about things. Don’t ever consider your words to others to be unimportant ; that it would go unnoticed and will be forgotten soon. That would be a huge mistake, because everything you do and say to people is most definitely noticed and your actions and words have the power that can influence decisions made in future. So when you do something for or say something to one of these youngsters, you pass along wisdom that has the power to change a generation. Another story I’ve heard, one that really stuck with me, is about a young man who is currently running two children’s centers. Orphaned at a young age, he grew up in a home for abandoned children. He told me that, when he was a child, a lady came to this orphanage and he remembered that he was SO impressed, because she told the children they can become anything they want, despite their circumstances. Eventually he found a way to finish school. He worked his way through university and eventually received a degree in communication. Then he decided to take the necessary courses to fulfil his dream of helping other children grow up in a safe, secure environment where they are allowed to dream AND fulfil their dreams. Today that young man goes out of his way to share that specific message, which he received nearly 30 years ago from a complete stranger, to the children in his care. I’m sure you have a memory of something someone said or did in your youth, something so spectacular that it stuck with you until today.
When I ask for donations to help the needy, I’m asking that you take a chance and be that person who change a life and a way of thinking forever. Remember, poverty has many faces and often being hungry and cold is only the beginning. The children that I see every day crave a different gift too….they crave love, attention, a kind word…someone to show them they are important enough and good enough to deserve being alive.
Therefore, don’t ever think that your meagre contribution will be rejected or criticized; whatever you decide to share will be accepted with joy and remembered forever. Touching a life today can change a future or even, THE future…you don’t know what that child can become, who he will be in a few years’ time….and YOU would have had something to do with the person he becomes. Let the children of the world be OUR children, not THEIR children; it is our world, our people, OUR RESPONSIBILITY….and our choice.
Galatians 6:9: “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.”…..let us not grow tired then, let us work the field, let us share the joy we’ve received so abundantly.
Get in touch, sponsor a child or facility, donate much-needed items, volunteer your time, whatever you do, GET INVOLVED, make a difference and say YES for CHANGE.
So, are you ready to change a life? Don’t postpone it, there may not be a tomorrow; start today – reach out, care, give, share the love….you have the power to make a difference.
#Dedicated to Annah, Onicca, Elizabeth, Andronicca, Norah, Emily, Dedre, Busisiwe, and all the gentlemen and ladies that takes care of the children so selflessly. May God bless you.
If you are interested in contributing or becoming involved in my cause, please complete the contact form below and I’ll be in touch.