As much as I have researched the towns we will be staying and the history of South Africa, there are some things that a Google search will never be able to answer. Technology has its limits when it comes to understanding human interactions in another country.
Luckily for our group, we already have a connection to bridge us from Hamden to South Africa — Tamarin Simpson.
In our last meeting, we Skyped with Tamarin, the founder of the Tippy Toes Foundation. Despite the time difference, she graciously addressed all of our concerns, some we didn’t realize we had until the conversation started.
Although we have gone over what our trip will entail, hearing Tamarin talk about the children she works with, and “why?” really caught me by surprise. She told us of the poverty that these kids are faced with and what they face if they are not actively engaged in the community.
That’s when it really hit me. We are doing more than playing soccer and teaching them how to dance. We are doing everything we can to keep them on a safe path. It is so easy for any of them to succumb to a dangerous way of life, but the summer camp gives them a chance to express themselves, feel love and feel hope.
Though this will undoubtedly be the most rewarding adventure I have been on, I know it will also be the most heart wrenching. Being someone who is very susceptible to the emotions of others, I was unsure how I would react should one of the kids in my group open up about his or her life.
Though Tamarin eased my nerves by saying that this would be unlikely, I won’t know how I will handle the situations until they happen. Even though I used to teach tennis and am no stranger to working with kids in this kind of setting, I know this experience will be too different to even compare, and I can’t wait.