Their self-worth has been confirmed. Their world view has been widened. Their tummies grew a bit larger. Their smiles that extra bit bigger knowing that a band of people thought enough of them to treat them like royalty.
Ikageng and Khanya Khaya are a registered child and youth care centres where boys and girls who are destitute can go to for refuge. Their objectives are to care or counselling of, and the provision of education programmes for abandoned, abused, neglected, orphaned or homeless children.
The kids had never been to the sea, or even travelled to the airport before. This was so much more than a seaside trip, it was a life changing event that placed deep value into the hearts of the recipients.
Ellouise Van Vuuren, one of the coordinators of the trip, wrote a thank you letter on behalf of the centres and children.
“This lengthy email serves to thank you all for your role in the seaside trip that was made possible for all the children from Ikageng and Khanya Khaya homes. I have been sitting on this email for weeks as words of gratitude really just don’t exist for what you made a reality and what the children experienced.
I have been working in the Non profit sector for 19years and never ever have I experienced such genuine generosity, excellence and care for the recipients.
Usually when companies or organisations donate, work with or sponsor NPO’s you get a sense that it is an obligation more than a conviction. This time around and for the first time in my experience did it feel like selfless act executed with deep value. In my small opinion is the main reason why it impacted the children in the way that it did.”
The children arrived at OR Tambo airport to be met by TTS & Comair staff and were given ruck sacks/ beach bags filled with gifts the children would need on their holiday! Once through security, they were taken to Wimpy to experience a classic Wimpy meal (cause every good South African holiday should start with a Wimpy. Fast forward a little and some very excited children boarded a BA flight to KZN for the first time – with a very special welcome announcement by the captain and applause from the regular travellers on board! The children received lunch packets from the hostesses and cheered as the flight took off.
“Before the trip, all the children, staff and even me could think of was the excitement of their first experience at an airport and on an aeroplane. But this was so much more than just a first flight; it was a small life skill and a huge confidence builder.
When arriving at O.R Tambo I could see they were nervous, unsure and a little scared of the whole procedure. But on our way back, I saw confident children who knew how the system worked and could actually get themselves through security and onto the plane. Being on the plane also made some of the children so very aware that they can be a person with a career as an air hostess or something to do with an aeroplane.
My most memorable moment of the trip was the moment the wheels of the aeroplane lifted off the runway. The loud, clear screams and shrills of the children at that moment was just one of the most beautiful noises I have heard in a very long time.
Not quite sure why that stood out to me, but I think all the anticipation and excitement of the trip was released at that exact moment.”
Once they landed at King Shaka airport, and after a few photos with the pilot, the group travelled to AHA Gateway Hotel in Europcar buses driven by very excited Europcar chauffeurs. From there on it was a crazy trip of first times and new beginnings…a “dip their toes in the sea” turned into an hour of frolicking in the waves and rolling in beach sand.
A mad dash back to the hotel to change before heading off to Gateway for some ten pin bowling and dinner at the spur before tiredly crashing onto the soft white linen pillows back the hotel.
“When we arrived at the hotel our party of 20 brought in some noise and chaos. We were a complicated group to check in, even I wanted to run, but we were met with smiles and great patience that I decided to stay and see the process through until the end.
The children all share clean and neat rooms and ablutions at the homes, but to have their own luxurious space with just one other person was a huge highlight. They loved the comfortable, spacious and modern rooms.
We were non-paying customers but the Manager and staff were always helpful and made us all feel like VIP’s throughout our stay. We were served with such excellence and not once were any one of us made to feel like we don’t belong there.”
On the second day, after a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel, the children headed off to Africa’s largest Marine Theme park, uShaka Marine world, for a tour of the variety of sea life followed by hours of swimming in the sea. The group returned to the hotel briefly before heading back to the mall for movies followed by pizzas at Panarottis. The rest of the evening was spent retelling stories of the Black Panther movie they had just watched.
“I keep on thanking everyone for spending time with the children, this a big deal. You don’t often get sponsors who take time from their busy schedules.
The children spent two days in KZN but packed in months of memories! We are so thankful to have been a part of this journey. They all look up to our CEO Morne who as the head chaperone says: “he manages to bring out the best in everyone”. All of these children are without a doubt inspired to achieve greatness!
This has been a lengthy thank you letter and still there is so much missing. You can’t possibly put the generosity lavished upon these children in only 3 pages. It has been a small attempt. Thank you to every person, company or organisation whom I might not have thanked. This was so much more than a seaside trip, it was a life changing event that placed deep value into the hearts of the recipients.”
**We did not publish any photos of the children as their identities need to remain private but every single photo that we saw showed children with the happiest smiles.