Last summer I visited South Africa. While there I went on a tour of a township. From this experience I gained an insight into the meaning of poverty, and learned about how people in developing countries live. The trip dramatically altered my attitude towards charity and inspired me to fundraise for international projects.
When our van turned off the normal highway and into the township, everything changed. Within seconds, the prestigious houses and business buildings disappeared and all that I could see was row upon row of shacks. These structures were mostly made of wood and corrugated iron. We drove deeper into the network of tracks, each lined with ramshackle houses, and with the occasional makeshift shop interspersed.
The homes varied in size but on average they measured about ten fifteen feet square. Our tour guide told us that it was common for a family of four or more to be living in a house this size. As the heat was stifling, many of the houses had their doors open. I accidentally looked into one house, and saw three thin children in tatty clothing, sitting on the bare ground.
The tour took over three hours and mostly the houses were the same. However, on the far side of the township was a section of proper houses made of bricks. They were small but they were complete, and our tour guide informed us that these buildings had electricity, running water and even bathrooms, which was a far cry from the shack homes. These houses had been built by Swedish volunteers, who had also raised the money for the materials by fundraising in their country.
This experience literally changed my life. Whereas I hadn’t thought a great deal about helping charity previously, after returning from the trip to South Africa I immediately set about planning my own fundraising events. I also spoke to all of my friends and told them what I had seen in the township. Soon afterwards, I launched a small fundraiser and was able to donate to a charity working in South Africa.