When I lived in South Africa, in 2006, I couldn't believe how beautiful everything was there....crystal blue water, white sand beaches, red rocky terrain, and so much sky! We stayed in a little coastal town called Muizenburg where whales swam in the ocean and I could see them spouting out of our kitchen window in August.
All of that beauty contrasted so intensely with the massive poverty that was also a part of the landscape. Only a mile from our house it began. A shanty town made of makeshift tin huts stacked up like cards along the road, and stretched forever.
My naive bleeding heart handed out coins to every little local hand that reached my way. I bought trinkets, baskets, dolls, wooden spoons and even ice creams from a constant pool of desperate vendors.
I believe that seeing poverty first hand changed me, and the way I see the world.
In Africa, when you hand out money to the people on the street, they buy food. You won't see them blowing any handouts on booze or cigarrettes. In Africa, there aren't soup kitchens or welfare, or entry level minimum wage jobs.
I met a couple who had an adopted little boy. He had dysentery when they took him in. His mother had died the day after she had traveled all the way from the middle of Africa to be united with her husband. He had relocated to find work to provide for his family. One day the man came up to this couple and begged them to take care of his little boy...and miraculously they did.
One day, I got lost driving around, and I found myself driving through a shanty town outside of Cape Town. I was scared. I had never seen anything like it. The housing looked more like garbage than a place someone could live. I passed a body covered in a blanket, with people just walking by like it was nothing.
There were hardly any jobs, men would sit on the curb all morning hoping to be picked up for manual labor.
Grocery stores all had metal shopping carts because the plastic ones would be stolen for fueling fires.
I never got used to the poverty.
It is overwhelming to even begin to think about how many people in the world need so much. It seems impossible to be able to help at all, but I have wanted to do something for a long time.
Lately I have realized that I have everything in the world I could ever need or want. My children are healthy, my business is successful, and I am living my dream.
I realized it was time to give back and so yesterday, I sponsored a child.
Her name is Tembuso, and she lives in Swaziland. She is 5 years old. MyGirl and MyBoy sat next to me as we set up the sponsorship and I was so proud to see tears in their eyes. They remember our time in South Africa too.
I know I can't save the entire world...but maybe I can help one little girl, and her community.
For more info on child sponsorship, visit World Vision, here.