Before having departed on our trip to Cape Town, I like everybody else, was not sure what to expect. We researched their history, their government, scenic views, and the places in South Africa just to get background information so we weren’t considered the regular tourist while we were in their country. The group was excited about the trip and the opportunity that PC as well as our parents had bestowed upon us. I was attracted to the trip due to several reasons. Initially, it seemed attractive due to all of my friends that were going. But upon second look, I realized that Cape Town South Africa is one of the most glamorous and beautiful cities in the world. Wondering around that city with the people that we were with made in its self an opportunity that was once in a lifetime.
When asked how it changed my life, I thought of a million different reasons. Everyday had different opportunities that looking back at it are things that I will never forget. I will always remember the views on Table Mountain, seeing beach penguins, going on a safari where we saw animals that I thought only existed in zoos, going to the Cape of Good Hope (which is where the two currents from the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet), and many more experiences that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Even being on an airplane for a miserable twenty hours had unique experiences in itself. But when asked how it changed my life, I did not think that it was reasonable to answer this question with any of those answers.
There were two major parts of the trip that I will never forget. The first one being one that occurred on one of our classes of the Maymester. Mr. Hendry, who was a man that I will never forget for his constant drive to make South Africa a better place, brought in a man by the name of Luvoyo Rani who had made it as a successful entrepreneur in South Africa. Now, in the world there are plenty of successful people. But after seeing what this man had gone through and thinking to myself about all the trials and challenges he went through, made it seem like a feat that I would have considered impossible. This man was from a township. To people that didn’t go on the trip that might be reading, a township is comparable to a ghetto in ways. It appears as a large square of buildings with a tin roof over each of their homes. They have extremely high violence and are places of extreme poverty. We were told that people in townships may have never been into Cape Town which is only maybe 3 miles from the nearest township.
Mr. Hendry gave us minor background information on Luvoyo Rani before he came in and as soon as he started talking about his business, where he got his ideas from, and the future plans, we were all captivated. Luvoyo started a business called Silulo. It had originally started by making internet cafes and putting them in townships. He would charge a minimal fee to let people come in and use them. He also had people there that taught the people of the township how to use the computers while opportunities to learn many other different tasks were available. Maybe the most amazing thing about his business was his plans for the future. He was planning on taking his business all around South Africa to different townships and even countries north of South Africa. It was absolutely unreal to hear this man speak and know about how he grew up in townships to now pulling up to our hotel in an eight door Mercedes.
Mr. Hendry was one of the most inspiring and motivating people that I have ever met. We met him the first day of class and he talked about South Africa’s rich history as well as what they need to do as a country to overcome all the turmoil that has been included in their past. The most memorable day of this experience was by far when we participated with SASDI as we helped build a school for the children of the township. SASDI stands for South Africa Sustainable Development Initiative. They develop leadership at an early age so that as the children grow to be older, they can help empower their community and help their community to overcome the struggles that they are with now. Mr. Hendry was a leadership expert and taught at the University of Cape Town. The part that struck me about Mr. Hendry and this amazing organization was that it was non-profit. Mr. Hendry and all the other members of the SASDI were doing all of this out of the pure goodness of their heart. These people are not making a nickel from this, they all just want to see South Africa become a better place.
As you could guess, upon waking, we weren’t eager to participate in moving twelve tons of concrete or moving a hundred tires to make a playground. Even through lunch the majority of us were overwhelmed with the workload and wondering why we were there. For me, this soon changed after lunch when we got to experience the children that were attending this school and the township. From an outsiders stand point, you could make the correct assumption and assume that these children were longing for attention. As I walked out into their playground that they already had, we were bombarded with children asking to be picked up and lifted in the air. If you picked one kid up, you had to pick them all up due to the long line forming behind them. After seeing this, I realized that we were helping a country change for the better. We were helping build a school so that these children did not grow up as the generation above them had. We were giving them an opportunity and hopefully helping them find a way out. This experience in itself is something that I have told my family and friends back home that they will never fully grasp. It is one of those things that you have to fully engage in to understand.
These two opportunities that were given to us by Presbyterian College, the business department, Dr. Turner, and my parents was something that was well worth the price and something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I realized how fortunate I was to grow up how I did with the opportunities that I have had so far in my life. Everyone loves a success story but I will never experience what Luvoyo Rani did and hopefully my children will never have to go through what the children of that school went through. Seeing all these kids longing for attention and hearing Luvoyo talk about how successful he has become and how he hopes to continue to make the South African townships a better place is something that really inspires me and makes my admiration for him overwhelming. The trip to South Africa is one that looking back at it I can say that it was the best t