Have you ever REALLY truly considered what it is like to look at life, the very life that we take for granted every single day, through the eyes of a child? Add to that, the fact that the child is probably underprivileged, if not orphaned or disabled, and has never had the opportunities that the majority of us have had.
Have you ever contemplated the true meaning of the word "altrusim" ( [al-troo-iz-uhm] –noun
the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others?
I have had the wonderful opportunity to consider both these questions in detail.
I am the daughter of a man, who I believe was truly altruistic, who sadly passed away 6 months ago. He was the founder of "The Reach for a Dream Foundation" and I have struggled for my entire 35 years to live up to this great persona. He was a man who spent his whole life truly giving back. I thought he was one of a kind, and as most daughters do, I worshiped him for it, yet battled to live up to his ideal. I have spent most of my adult life trying to follow his example, but yet in my own way, trying to somehow put my own footprints on something. Fate lead my one day to the SOAPkidz organisation, and finally after almost a year of involvement, I now know why my father spent almost his entire life working tirelessly to this end. I can truly say that this small group of people, who have invested their entire being into something they feel so passionate about, have made me believe that altruism is not a as rare as I once thought it was.
I write this article having come straight from one of their events. A truly memorable Saturday spent soaking in and absorbing some of the greatest wonders of life...children eager and hungry to learn, and adults willing and able to give. This was not my first outing as a volunteer. Yet, I still felt like a " babe in the woods". I sat there today, watching these children, who to all intent and purposes have nothing compared to what I had growing up, wide eyed at the wonder of a 3 week old owl chick, and realised that i was actually the one, at the tender age of "35" doing the learning and growing.
Their ideal is actual quite simple. (To read their actual mission statement see www.soapkidz.org). Simply put, they arrange for disadvantaged children from all walks of life, to get out into nature and in doing so, teach them about the environment, whilst giving them various life skills. This takes place in many different ways, sometimes its weekends camps away at Roodeplaat dam and others are simpler day events such as todays outing at Groenkloof nature reserve. The morning started with 60 children coming together from various children’s homes. They were divided into groups and each group was given t-shirts from a different sponsor. We then set off, litter bags in tow, under the supervision of the very knowledgeable game wardens and enjoyed a wonderful 2 hour gentle hike, bird spotting, picking up litter, and learning about the various different animal spoor. After that it was time for lunch, supplied by Pick ‘n Pay Faerie Glen and served to us by Pick ‘n Pay Faerie Glen’s staff. After that it was time for some arts and crafts, and general mischievous fun, allowing the children to be children, out in the open and experiencing life as we all should, sun on our faces, fresh air in our lungs, and no worries for a few hours. After prize giving it was time for home, with exhausted children being waved off, still singing and excitedly chatting about the days events.
This is where the question of altruism comes in. From a personal perspective, I'm not sure who gets more out of this fantastic organization, myself, all the children. It has been such a wonder and huge learning experience for me to watch these people work, and the love and passion that they put into every single element of these outings. After every event that I attend, I spend days reflecting on the change that we might have made to just the one single child, the one whose eye's lit up in amazement at every new piece of knowledge imparted to him and the unconditional love shown throughout the day. If you would like to experience some of what I have spoken about here, we are constantly looking for more volunteers and sponsorship. This organization has grown so fast in the short time since its inception, yet there is so much more we would like to achieve, and so many more children who can benefit in so many way. We need your help in achieving this. Every little bit counts. Please phone Karen at 083 975 2700