There are many children who have lost their parents through HIV/AIDS or violence in the country, KwaZulu-Natal having the highest level of 40 % HIV in the country. Children live in crumbling mud huts unable to repair the leaking roofs because their father has gone. They are unable to feed themselves as they donâ€™t know how to grow vegetables and maize. The government doesnâ€™t know about them as they arenâ€™t on any government programme. They are literally starving!
I always wanted to do something to help underprivileged children in a foreign country. I was already planning to visit South Africa anyway, so I contacted AIDS Africa who gave me the details of Gods Golden Acre(GGA). I met Heather Reynolds the director of GGA on my first visit.
I take volunteers over to Cato Ridge in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, near Durban. It takes 3 weeks for a group of 10 volunteers to build a house of hope out of concrete blocks and a corrugated metal roof. At weekends we relax by the beach or take a safari in the nearby game reserve. The cost per person is about Â£1,200 including flights, accommodation, food and weekends away.
Since then, I have taken 19 volunteers over including myself in 2 groups and built a second structure. Between the two groups they have raised over Â£40,000.
I am so proud to be part of this charity that I now continue this programme and as a way of contributing to society I will support GGA in the coming years by arranging more groups on an annual basis. I am putting together two groups at present for 2007 and have more people interested in volunteering in 2008.
In addition, some people are unable to volunteer themselves and are separately fundraising for GGA.
I was coaching on SELP so it wasnâ€™t a new programme for me. What I got out of the project was that anything is possible. Think big, not small. You donâ€™t know what you can achieve. I couldnâ€™t have believed I would be so successful and that I would exceed all my expectations. Greater things can be achieved with my own coach. There were two occasions when I was stuck and my coach helped me through and gave me great advice that enabled me to reach higher and higher. I learnt that people are very happy to contribute where I initially felt awkward by just asking. One friend thanked me for giving her the opportunity to sponsor us when she couldnâ€™t volunteer herself. Greta things can come out of nothing, sometimes just a casual conversation in the corridor. Telling everyone what I was doing meant more people could contribute in some small way. One lady I met at a birthday party told a friend and her friend is now going with us next year.
I have also found a way of contributing to humanity which I hadnâ€™t expected and which makes me feel good about myself. None of this would have been possible without the SELP programme.