The name “Reaching Out 2 The World” essentially is what this blog is achieving. This blog has reached out to over 100 different countries and counting. But more importantly than just that, Reaching Out 2 The World is also about showing less privileged kids what else is out there on this big planet of ours. Our mission was to come up with a way to take a few deserving township kids on a big trip outside their home. Our second focus is to deliver those stories and footage from the trip to everyone in the world via our blogs, Facebook accounts, and many other social media vehicles. The idea alone seemed difficult to pull off at first, but when you combine two powerful minds together and with the help of our families and friends, it’s something Chris O’Sullivan and I made possible.
We initially hatched the idea way back in October of 2012, when I went to meet Chris in his home state of Pennsylvania. Over the course of the next few months, we decided the best way to fund the money was to put together a campaign to tell everyone what we were up to. Even though we were separated by a few states, we kept in contact coming up with ideas and working on different things and relaying them back and forth to get each others input. We worked for months on videos, logo designs, shirts, perks, and travel plans. Chris contacted Hotspots2c, a touring company he went through before in South Africa, and told them about the plan. Happily, they were on board to help us in any way they could which was great news for us! They loved the idea and thought this would be an amazing opportunity for the kids. All we needed to tell them was how many kids were coming, when we would take the trip, and things we might be interested in doing. It took a lot of back and forth communication with people we knew in South Africa, people we knew at home who could help us, and all of the people that graciously donated to our cause for the kids. In May 2013 we launched the fundraising campaign which lasted for 60 days and were able to raise about $3,500, which we thought would be more than enough to totally fund these kids on this trip! All the money left over we would use to donate to special causes or schools in South Africa. As of this post, we haven’t decided yet who to give the money to but I promise you’ll know as soon as we do.
We already knew which kids would be coming. The core eight kids we both bonded with minus Fudo who has moved from Kayamandi. We wish we could take as many kids as possible but we decided to just take the ones who stuck with us since the beginning: Avela Lisa, Rethabile Mofama (RiRi), Mawande Mcinjana, Athabile Nowa (Atha), Aphiwe Ngemntu, Simamkele Mtshotame (Ski), Kanyisa Peter (Chester), and Lupho Sitole. If I’m spelling any of those names wrong, then it’s because of the kids handwriting!
The trip would take place over five days. The agenda for the first day, 23 Monday 2013, was to drive the scenic route from Kayamandi to Hout Bay and from there take a boat out to Seal Island. Afterwards, we would take a cable car up to Table Mountain, and then hike up to the peak of Lions Head Mountain and then return to Kayamandi for the night before we set off on the southern coast the next day. We told all the boys that they MUST be by our house by 8 am or we would have to leave with out them! The great Isaac was our tour guide and driver and would be picking all of us up in his Hotspots van. All eight kids arrived before the van came, even Atha who is always usually late. If you recall, when I took the kids out to Cape Town via train last year, Atha came running down the train tracks to catch up with us!
When Isaac pulled up, he presented us and the kids with complimentary Hotspots travel bags filled with snacks and sunglasses which the kids wore immediately from then on. I could tell by the looks on their faces, that they were excited yet filled with not knowing exactly what they would be doing. I don’t think they fully grasped the concept yet, but still they were roaring to begin! Isaac also brought his eleven year old daughter Mimi with him today to join the boys for their first day. I had no idea Isaac even had a daughter! She was welcomed into the group quite easily though.
We started off by driving to Cape Town around the scenic route of Seaside to Hout Bay. I forgot to take my motion pill and started to feel a little bleh during the drive, but fortunately soon we made it to Hout Bay. Hout Bay is known for its spectacular seaside views of the mountainous landscapes surrounding. It is also the hub port to Seal Island. Once we got off the tour van, we realized we were a little early before our scheduled ferry would depart to Seal Island, so we walked with the kids around the dock.
Here they saw seals which the kids aptly referred to as “water dogs” eating fish bait thrown in by locals who worked at the harbor. One of the locals stuck a fish in his mouth, just as a water dog leaped up out of the water to bite the fish from his mouth! The kids thought it was pretty cool!
At the harbor, was a banjo band that would strum jivey tunes as passengers disembarked the ferry. They wore yellow suits and top hats with red ties. Some of them even had mustaches and beards painted with glitter. The kids didn’t want to admit it, but I think they were digging the tunes, especially Mawande who I caught dancing on video!
Finally, it was about time for our ferry to arrive soon so we went and stood in line behind iPad welding tourists. The ferry pulled up and I saw that the best place for us would be in the front of the boat, to capture excellent footage. Plus, I think the boys would have more fun outside in the front than in the cabin in the middle. Once we were let on the ferry, we made way to the front and had the prime position! Most of the boys have never been on a boat this size before so there was no way of knowing if any of them would get boat sick! The ferry started to move and we were on our way to Seal Island! I underestimated the size of the waves and the rockiness of the ferry. It’s so big that I didn’t think the boat would rock and jump so much but boy was I wrong! I also saw that Mawande started to get a little dizzy. As the boat was in motion, Mawande crouched down on the floor with his head hanging. We discovered that Mawande can get boat sick, as he was on the floor for almost the entire time. Don’t worry buddy, I feel your pain! I eventually joined him for a bit on the floor. Mawande is 13 years old and attends Kayamandi High School as a freshman. His name “Mawande” means “growth” which is ironic because Mawande has always been the runt of the group! Even though he is one of the smallest, he has a big heart and is very smart. I would say that he speaks English very well compared to the others. Mawande lives in a small shanty home in Kayamandi with his parents and younger brother Onge who usually also comes over to hang out with us at the Zulu residence. Out of all the boys, I would also consider Mawande one of the most well behaved of the bunch. He always listens to us and he never gets out of hand, which is probably why we never mind having him over. He is a pretty awesome kid! If we ever go on another boat, I’ll be sure to give him a motion sickness tablet to help him out. Although, he did feel dizzy, it didn’t completely stop him from enjoying his time at sea. Once we made it to Seal Island, he and the others stood on the deck to gaze at the hundreds of seals that claimed this small island as home. You could smell the seals stench where we stood and it wasn’t anywhere near pleasant. The boys look on their faces from the smell was pretty funny!
Once we viewed the island for about ten minutes, we went back towards the harbor. On the way, a group of Asian tourists also on the ferry, wanted to take pictures with the boys! It was probably because since they were in Africa, they wanted to take a picture with an African child. This was something I have grown used to in Southeast Asia as a lot of the Asians there wanted to take pictures with me because I looked so different from them. The boys, who aren’t camera shy at all, didn’t mind it either and were loving the attention!
Once we made it back to the harbor, we were greeted by the funny banjo band. I got footage of Ski and Atha dancing when they weren’t paying attention. Soon we will put together a video montage of their trip, showcasing some of their moves! Isaac soon picked us up to take us to lunch nearby the Hout Bay Harbor. The place that was already reserved for us was called Fish On The Rocks.
It was all fish. Nothing but fish. Great for the boys but not for me. As the boys chowed down on fish and chips, Isaac and I went real quick to KFC to pick up some real food. When we came back, the boys were already done with theirs. We hung around and took pictures near the harbor for a bit and then afterwards made way to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain!
All of the kids have been here at least once on a field trip with their school prior, but you can’t do a trip in South Africa without visiting the mountain, no matter how many times you’re on it! The idea of hiking with them up the mountain, which would take at least two hours, didn’t sound appetizing at all, so instead we took the cable car to the very top to save time. This is my fourth time on the mountain and I can tell you firsthand that it hasn’t gotten old yet. The views of the oceans, mountains, and even Cape Town itself is always fantastic. I strapped my GoPro to Chester so when we make the video montage, we can get a first-person perspective of what he saw on the table top. We walked with the boys for a bit before we found a few boulders, perfectly placed, to take a few great pictures. Chris brought his American and South African flags with him for the boys to take pictures with. Of course, they put them on as if they were capes and pretended to be superheroes!
I don’t think there was any place on the mountain where they didn’t think they needed a picture taken! Take Avele for example. There is no place where he won’t do his typical arms crossed, backwards peace sign pose! Avele is 13 years old and he currently lives in the Eastern Cape, which is a far drive from Kayamandi which lies in the Western Cape. The name “Avele” means “to arise”. Avele was the first one of the group that I met last year and he helped me find the others with ease. Avele and Mawande are cousins and just like Mawande, Avela speaks English just as well. He is a little quieter than the rest of the crew but he’s also one of the most creative. He drew me tons of pictures last year of random things out of the blue. I didn’t expect to see him again but I’m glad we were able to work out his return! He had a new New York baseball cap that he had with him this time and would constantly pose for pictures on top of the mountain with it. We stayed on Table Mountain for about an hour or so before we took the cable car back down. We planned on hiking Lions Head Mountain next, which is smaller than Table Mountain and lies adjacent to it. But first Isaac took us to the Eastern Bazaar in Cape Town for food. The Eastern Bazaar is known for it’s extensive amount of curry related options which I loved! But I didn’t think most of the boys would like it much and since it was their trip, I let them pick out whatever they wanted. The majority of them just wanted pizza! The pizza took a little longer to come out and I felt a little bad that they waited so long while I chowed down on Chicken Tikka Masala. It eventually came out and they stuffed themselves!
The plan was to hike Lions Head to see the sunset over the ocean. It was a little past five and we weren’t quite sure when the sun would set and how long the hike would take all of us, so we decided to just go to the mountain early to be on the safe side. We didn’t want to miss the sunset! Isaac drove us to the foot of Lions Head; at the start of the trail. This mountain is called Lions Head because the peak of the mountain is shaped like…well… a lions head. I never saw the lion before until this trip when I finally could make out a “lions head”. The trail up to the peak is relatively easy for the most part and we thought it would be suitable for the boys where they won’t get completely bogged down by all of the hiking and climbing. We started off the trail with a sprint! Thats how energized they all were. It wasn’t long before the sprinting turned into walking, accompanied by a few huffs and puffs. RiRi, Chester, and a couple of others led the pack the whole way up!
I was all over the place taking pictures and video of everything. My camera was put to some good use today as I was constantly looking through it capturing everything that I could of the trip to share with you all! The trail turned from a simple pathway to rock climbing which I think might of been everyones favorite part.
It wasn’t long until we made it to the peak! It took us under an hour which was great considering there were ten of us! We got to the top around 6 pm and realized we had plenty of time before the sun would set, which worked out fine because there were loads of opportunities for some sweet shots!
We made ourselves at home on the peak, walking from edge to edge amongst the boulders and cliffs, reveling in the stunning backdrop of the cape. It was maybe an hour or so until the sun began to descend beyond the horizon. We gathered everyone to sit right on the cliff as we witnessed the sun slowly disappear into the ocean.
It wasn’t long after when the kids started to make their way back down the mountain! They still had tons of energy and left Chris and I in their dust as they blazed back down. Along the way, other hikers would ask if we were responsible for these kids and if this was a field trip or something. I told them what we were up to and they thought it was the coolest thing! As a matter of fact, there were tourists at Hout Bay and on Table Mountain who noticed we were with a group of Xhosa speaking kids and asked us all about it. When I told them, they all seemed generally pleased and loved the idea of what we were doing.
It was completely dark and time to go back to Kayamandi. On this trip, tonight would be the only time we would return to Kayamandi to stay the night. Tomorrow we would tour the coast but stay at accommodations that Hotspots have already booked for us. Once Isaac pulled up to Zulu’s, he let us know what time he’d be picking us all up. The kids had to be over a little earlier tomorrow than they did today, which meant that we should get some sleep because we would be out and about all day! Day 1 of the Reaching Out 2 The World trip was a massive success! Hout Bay, Seal Island, Table Mountain, and Lions Head – all just the appetizer to everything else we had in store for these Kayamandi kids. Stay tuned! π