The fund-raising efforts of Upper Beaconsfield siblings Lauren and Matthew Hutson have given South African children the gift of visiting the beach, with some seeing the ocean for the first time.
The pair walked 37.7 kilometres, raising more than $3000 for Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (GAPA) to fully fund a group of children from GAPA’s after school care program to travel from Khayelitsha to Boulders Beach, have lunch and participate in a basic water safety skills course.
The inspiration for the walk came from the strong bonds the siblings had developed with the grandmothers and students at GAPA during a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, about two years ago while volunteering for African Impact.
Lauren said the GAPA after school program aimed to ensure that the time between the children finishing school and parents finishing work for the day were spent in a safe, stimulating and fun environment.
“That time of day is when children are most vulnerable to violence and gang life,” she said.
“One day, we took 100 children to the Cape Town World Cup Stadium for a tour. It was something the children had never done before. I don’t think you can help but be inspired by the looks of awe and contagious smiles on these kids’ faces when they have these opportunities and learn something new.
“Planning a fund-raiser was a way to remain involved with the African Impact family and support the kids who left such a lasting impression on us.
“I wish we had been able to see the look on the kids’ faces when some of them saw the beach for the first time”
The fund-raiser earned Matthew, a 2012 Haileybury graduate, an Outstanding Young Alumni community award from the Old Haileyburians Association this month.
Matthew said it had been fulfilling to contribute to a community he was so passionate about.
“At times, fund-raising is heavily criticised because it isn’t sustainable and there’s a lot of truth in that,” he said.
“But when you know exactly where the funds are going to go and they are purely being used to develop the skills of others, I see huge value in it. What the students and grandmothers learnt that day will be with them for life.”
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.