Archive for March, 2013

March 13, 2013

Supporting Hlomelikusasa, South Africa

Dear Friends,

I cannot believe it has been sixteen years since my parents, sister, brother and I got on a plane headed for America. On March 17th, 1997, my family and I left our home in Pretoria, South Africa, and made way to our new life in Phoenix, Arizona. Today, I am a proud dual-citizen so very blessed and fortunate to live in the great American nation and land of opportunity. And while I am forever grateful for what the past sixteen years has brought, I wouldn’t be who I am without the upbringing, family, friends, history, and heritage ingrained from my South African DNA. With a passion to make a difference in the world and a desire to give back to my homeland, I have made a commitment to help a specific, well deserving nonprofit in South Africa, called Hlomelikusasa.

In one of the poorest regions of South Africa, Hlomelikusasa is based in the remote areas of the Eastern Cape in Mount Frere. Hlomelikusasa is a nonprofit established to promote the health and welfare of orphans, vulnerable children, and disadvantaged people through a holistic approach of home-based care, counseling, education, training, HIV/AIDS prevention care, and an organic agriculture platform to teach sustainability and life-survival through permaculture.

The organization works to train child care workers to care for orphans and disadvantaged community members by ensuring their access to education and government services. It focuses efforts for the sick, including those infected with HIV/AIDS to have home-based care, psychosocial support programs, teenage pregnancy awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention training. Hlomelikusasa has trained 15 Home Base Care Givers, who are able to perform referrals for government departments, provide counseling, support, and proper care for those in need. These care givers are in charge of the 15 drop-in centers based in rural areas, providing daily meals and medicine.

Hlomelikusasa educates women and children about children’s rights, women’s rights, and human rights. They offer women with a resource center, empowerment projects, financial independence training, along with a youth program to encourage participation in their personal and community development. Much of the training for empowerment, independence and stability is planted within teaching and implementing an organic agriculture way of life.  By training youth and women permaculture food strategies, their community will become more healthy and ecological, and the youth and women can become independent and self-sustaining. Hlomelikusasa has installed 90 permaculture gardens to grow organic vegetables for daily meals provided after school for children, aiming to fight poverty in their communities and teach children how to eat healthy and nutritious meals made from their backyards.

The 15 Home Base Care Givers are well trained through classes and practical evaluations in four modules of home base care, four modules of child and youth care, and two modules of organic agriculture. The program is monitored and evaluated to stay effective and manageable, and they keep log books with children’s’ weight and health information – yet the Hlomelikusasa ‘office’ is in a shed with two computers and one phone. Although the program is supposed to run Monday-Friday, many children come every single day and a child is never turned away. This organization, without a doubt, is only able to serve the hundreds of disadvantaged children, women, and seniors in South Africa due to the dedication, willingness, selflessness, and passion from the volunteers and care givers determined to make a difference in the lives of others.

As funding is extremely scarce from an international, national, and local level, Hlomelikusasua is struggling to keep afloat and is in desperate need of support. After learning about their program, watching their video, and talking on Skype with the founder and manager of Hlomelikusasa, Boniswa Ngule, I am determined to help fundraise and build support for this remarkable organization. I am committed as the Champion Fundraiser through One World Children’s Fund, a partner nonprofit organization in San Francisco. My goal is to raise $6,000 by October 2013, in conjunction with raising awareness to the incredible accomplishments these women achieve every day in rural Mount Frere.

I am asking you to please help me, in any way that you can, to bring support and hope to the children and women of Hlomelikusasa. If you can, please take the time to watch the YouTube video below that was created by One World Children’s Fund, and share it with your family and friends. I also plan to organize several events and fundraisers throughout the year, in different cities, to help raise funding. If you, your organization, or company would like to help organize or participate in any of these events, please let me know. Donations of any amount are more than gratefully accepted, through online payments, check, or cash. (Please note: Be sure to select Hlomelikusasa, South Africa from the Program Designation drop-down menu)

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. Your kindness and generosity not only means the world to me, but will help the lives of children, women, and seniors living in a vastly different world than you or I.

In the end, no matter how much separates us, we are all simply humans just trying to survive every day.

Thank you kindly and with love,


March 8, 2013

Here Goes Nothing, Here Goes The Half

Well here goes nothing. I’m packed and on my way to San Diego in hopes to run my first half marathon this weekend. For some of you, that doesn’t sound like too much of a feat because you’ve probably run a few halves, and probably even a full or two. I grew up with a Dad who ran my whole life – he has finished 15 Comrades Marathons in South Africa and many other races in between. My sister has also run several races, halves and full marathons and takes them down like water on a hot summer day. For me, I never actually thought I could run a marathon. In fact, I didn’t even think I wanted to run a marathon. Running has never come easily to me; describing myself anything but a natural runner. I’m used to being on the side of the road, passing out water, bananas, coke for my dad, and cheering on all the runners thinking just how crazy they must be to run for ‘fun’.

But now I sit waiting to board a plane, determined to run a half marathon in a few days. I decided about five months ago that I wanted to train for it, and then just see what happens. Since living in the world of the-all-too-healthy SF, I have certainly become much more active and have found a better appreciation for running, yoga, hiking, and eating right. So I thought if ever in my life I could accomplish the impossible, it is right now. I declared to my family and friends a goal to run a half marathon sometime in 2013 – and because I have only the best family and friends – they ‘helped’ me to decide I would run it sooner rather than later.

I wish I could tell you I feel ready, but that’s not the case. I’ve had a cloudy head and a heavy heart for a few weeks now, which has not helped with my mental preparedness and drive. I’ve had issues with my IT band, knee pain, blisters and feet problems. And yes, these are all excuses I’m sure, but they certainly haven’t helped with my anxiety. The truth is, I feel silly for not being better prepared as I only have 9 miles under my belt.  I feel nervous that there is a chance I don’t finish. But most of all, I feel determined to try and push myself as much as I can to get to that finish line. Luckily for me, my family will be there with me – and I know my Dad will do everything in his willpower to help me, even if it means carrying me on his back. I am so blessed and fortunate to have had the support and encouragement from so many amazing people. And without a doubt, I am going to be praying with every foot I place in front of the other.

So here goes nothing. I have nothing now besides faith, determination, and mental strength to get me through. And knowing that if I do cross that finish line, it will serve as an accomplishment I never thought possible.

See you at the finish line.