]In November, DSA Pays it Forward (the philanthropic arm of South African Airways Vacations) hosted its annual fundraiser. While traveling in South Africa, eight SAAV employees were able to visit two of the charities supported by the money raised at the event. It was a consensus that the entire day was an incredible, humbling experience.
We left Durban around 9:30 (after our early morning surf) to drive to the midlands of the KwaZulu-Natal province. We stopped briefly at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site near Howick. It was here that police detained Mandela in 1962 and where his 27-year imprisonment began. Unfortunately for us it was a rather brief stop, but we were able to take the “long walk to freedom” pathway from the current temporary exhibition (a new museum is under construction) to an amazing sculpture of 50 steel poles that, when viewed from the correct angle, display a three-quarter profile of Mandela. It was definitely a site we recommend visiting for an hour or two.
From there we went to Lions River Primary School. It was the last day of school before summer holidays as well as graduation day for some of the youngest students. They recited a poem for us as well as performed a few songs. We then toured their current school building, which is essentially one room for over 80 students. The school’s teachers don’t have a photocopier and are currently writing tests by hand using carbon paper to make one or two copies. Our hope is that we can buy the school a photocopy machine with the funds raised at the recent charity event. We also brought the children a few soccer balls, pens and some other snacks for a treat.
After a nice lunch at the Lions River Piggly Wiggly Country Village in Lions River, we went to Khazimula Children’s Project, which is home to about 30 children. We brought them a few soccer balls and a basketball as well as toiletries like deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste – and, of course, some sweets. The children showed us their bedrooms, which were very neat and tidy. They showed us their individual beds with their own unique bedspreads. They took such pride in them, it was wonderful. Next they sang songs and performed a mud boot dance – very impressive! We challenged them to a football match (soccer) afterward, which they won, 3-2. After that they showed us the in-ground trampolines DSA Pays it Forward purchased and had installed for them using funds from the charity event.
It was an unforgettable day for our team and definitely one of the highlights. We are honored to support such inspiring organizations that are doing incredible things to help the most vulnerable. The happiness in these children’s faces is imprinted on our hearts and has motivated us even more to support them any way we can.
Up next, the adventure continues in the Drakensberg Mountains.