Sydni’s South African Sojourn

My family and I recently took a trip to the beautiful Cape Town, South Africa. Our vacation would have not been complete without Packing for a Purpose. I spent a semester interning with Rebecca Rothney, the founder of Pack for a Purpose, so I was over the hills excited to have the opportunity to participate. We chose to support two of the hotel’s projects from the PfaP website, The More Quarters Hotel and The Backpack. Once we had our needs list compiled we gathered the supplies and donated luggage to bring with us. We contacted the hotels and set up a time and place to meet to transfer the supplies.

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Lee, of the owners of The Backpack, met us at our hotel, The Westin, and told us about the impact the jump rope project was making in the community. Young girls join the jump rope club to get involved with a community that can help pull them out of poverty. The girls practice regularly after school and participate in competitions on the weekends. The Backpack supports the children through grade school and offers them employment opportunities at the hotel upon graduation. Lee told us of a particular girl who was supported by this project and is now headed to college to study HR.

We arranged with the More Quarters hotel to visit the township school we brought supplies for. A driver picked us up and gave us a tour of the townships. We paid a small fee for this but majority of the funds went to the school or the Match Box Project, which supported the school.  We felt very safe and learned so much about the history and culture of the community we were supporting. As we drove into the township we saw hundreds of self-built homes like the ones in the picture below:

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Once we got to the school we were overwhelmed with greetings from the little boys and girls. They wanted all of our attention! There were two teachers and 145 children eager for love and knowledge. We played games with the children and showed them how to take selfies on our iPhones. They couldn’t have been more joyful!

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After we spent some time with the children we were introduced to the founder of the school, Mrs. Mavis, and her husband. Mrs. Mavis was such an inspiration. She told of the harsh realities of her childhood that inspired her to start the school. Her goal is to educate the children and encourage them to break out of the cycle of poverty. Her husband walks a lap around the township every morning collecting the children from their homes and walking them to the school. After dinner he does the same lap dropping the children back off to their families. At night the school turned into a place for the women to gather to sew clothes for their families.

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Mrs. Mavis walked us around the township and introduced us to the community. She brought us to her home were two women were attending to 17 babies. There were babies everywhere! We held the little ones and helped get them to sleep.

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Our hearts were so full to see such compassion and self-sustainability in such a hard time. The living conditions in the townships of Cape Town were unfathomable, but the community radiated a light of happiness that we had never seen. Thank you, Pack for a Purpose, for opening our eyes to this life-changing experience.

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