Today was our second day at Varkplaas conducting our service projects- but by far the most rewarding.
Today was my favorite day- I got to work on repairing the tin roofs all day and really got that hands on experience I was looking for. Even though I was in charge of planning to tin roofs portion of the trip during the semester, it wasn’t my favorite part of the day. My favorite part of the day was at the end when we handed out the donations and everyone in
the community gathered around to collect the things they needed. During that time I happened to see two women grab the two jackets that I personally donated from my own closet. Up until this time the reality of what we were doing hadn’t really set in. When I saw these women take my jacket and put it on I was overwhelmed with emotions. Seeing something that was once mine kind of gave me a feeling that as long as she had that jacket, a part of me will forever stay in South Africa.
Early on I had mentioned that I wanted to experience a different culture, make a difference in someone’s life and diversify myself. On this trip I accomplished everything I wanted to and then some. This experience has not only made me more grateful for the things I normally would take advantage of, but it has opened my eyes to things I never thought existed. Seeing the families living the way they were was something I never thought was a reality. The reality of this all is that in two days I will be on a flight back to NY. I will be picked up by my family and driven back to our nicely built home, to have a delicious home cooked meal; the people I met over the past few days will still remain in that community.
Before today it was hard for me to consider the things I saw as a permanent life style for people. But when I was there watching everyone try to find clothes that fit them, and I saw the women take my jacket it really hit me. My jacket along with the people in the community will remain there way long after I leave.
This trip has made me realize that although I may not see stuff like this everyday- it does exist, and help needs to be given. Earlier today I was asking Tamarin questions about The Tippy Toes Foundation. I asked her things like if she had an office for the foundations and how she received the money to do everything the does. She laughed at my office question at first and then replied that she does not have an office and most of the work is done from her home. She also said that most of the money is from simple donations. That really caught me off guard because I started thinking about being back in America when people ask me for donations and I simply just give them whatever change I have in my pocket. 50 cents is not going to help a foundation like Tippy Toes stay in business. It breaks my heart to even think about what would happen to the communities such as Varkplaas if the foundation ran out of money.
Spending the time I’ve had with Tamarin and my involvement with the Tippy Toes Foundation has inspired me to get more involved. I hope to donate clothes to the Tippy Toes Foundation every time I clean out my closet and to never, ever, throw anything away, because someone somewhere might need it.
Being here in South Africa has taught me so much more about different people and how different cultures vary from person to person. The things that I have seen and done over these past couple of weeks will remain with me for the rest of my life. It has made me want to get more involved and to experience many cultures from different parts of the world. I hope to open myself up more to those I am not familiar with, embrace our differences and learn from them. I think I am a different person coming back to America with a different view on life. Life should not be measure by how many things you have, it should be measured by how many of those things you give back to someone who needs it.