Transitioning from Tourist to Township

On March 7th, 2012, my QU301 South Africa class had the opportunity to Skype with Tamarin Simpson, the founder of The Tippy Toes Foundation.  This was an amazing experience to connect and listen to the perspective of a South African.  It was not only a privilege, but an honor.

Before Skype-ing with Tamarin, I was anxious and excited to go to South Africa.  I was looking forward to the tourist aspects as well as the service project.  However, when we were done talking to her, my excitement for the service projects, and the opportunity to make a difference in these people’s lives, significantly heightened.

A main aspect of our conversation that stood out to me was when she told us that the kids only have one pair of shoes.  She said that because they only have one pair, they walk bare foot on the dirt road to protect their shoes from getting ruined.

This statement made me think in different ways.  As an American living in the U.S, the thought of taking off my shoes to protect them never crossed my mind.  It proves that Tamarin has a different perspective on life, being able to see both sides.  This is the true reason why I am so thrilled to go to South Africa.  Yes, the tourist attractions will be fun and exciting, but to see how other people live and the differences between them and I will be a once in a lifetime, eye-opening experience.

Another story that Tamarin told that stood out to me was when she was explaining how multiple people live in one bedroom houses.  These houses have no electricity; therefore, in the winter the houses get very cold. To prevent freezing, they make a fire inside of the house to keep warm.  However, the fumes and smoke from the fire makes the people sick.  Tamarin stated that one person once said to her that she has no choice – she could breathe in the smoke and get sick, or freeze to death.

This story struck my heart.  It made me realize how blessed I am every single day.  It opened my eyes to how many aspects of life that I take for granted on a daily basis.

The Tippy Toes Foundation is an organization that stresses how small positive acts of kindness can have a tremendous effect on a community. Tamarin gave a summary of what this foundation is about.

After listening to Tamarin talk about the foundation, I became inspired to do as many things as I can to help people.  I learned that the community is in need of fortunate people like myself to get involved and to help as much as I can.  Every single person deserves the same opportunities as everybody else, and it is my duty to strive to make that happen.

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One Comment on “Transitioning from Tourist to Township

  1. You totally get it, thank-you for writing this stunning piece! If we can change peoples perspectives and fuel them with the desire to make change, I think we could whip this world into shape very quickly 🙂 Can not wait for you to meet some amazing people and looking forward to us all being changed forever. See you soon xxx

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