Buy a globe and light up a child’s life
Your contribution will take a child to the sea, often for the first time, and give them an experience they’ll treasure
SOMETHING about The Star Seaside Fund keeps the children coming back. It has been taking underprivileged children to the Natal coast since 1910. Many of those chosen for the trips later sign up as co-ordinators or volunteer counsellors.
Ria Kirkby and her brother and sister went on a trip in 1966. She was 10 and the family lived in South Hills, Joburg. What stands out in her memory are the house parents at the seaside home, which was then located across the road from the Elangeni Hotel in Durban.
“It was also the time when I gave my heart to the Lord,” said 58-year-old Kirkby.
She volunteered as a monitor when her teenage daughter was chosen to go on a trip.
Patrick Mashige, 49, is the senior education specialist in sport for the Gauteng Education Department and attributes his leadership skills and success to the programmes he attended during his stay in 1977.
“We had the best time and the leadership skills I learnt have really helped me.”
Mashige remains involved with the Seaside Fund as one of the department’s official selectors. He helps the fund identify needy children. He loves to put a smile on their faces, he says. Kirkby has been involved as a volunteer for 20 years. She said the most exciting part of taking a group to the beach was the moment they saw the ocean for the first time.
“Many of them are scared of the water – they take a few days to swim in the deeper parts. But they really enjoy themselves in what they call the ‘big waters’.”
The Star has sent over 142 000 children to the seaside home, now housed in Hibberdene. The trips are funded by individual and corporate donations and the sale of the Tree of Light globes at Christmas time.
The house mother and father play an important role in the nine-day holiday. Dennis Dienaar, 81, is now retired in Howick but worked as a house father for 35 years. He was asked to take on the job because of his involvement in youth development and adventure outings.
“For me, it was more of a mission than work – if the kids could go home with a belief in God, we were very happy.”
Dennis and his wife Hazel saw over 4 000 trips during their tenure. He said the meals they served were healthy and the children were hungry after their beach time.
“We loved watching them run into the sea for the first time. The saltiness always gave them a fright.”
All those involved with the fund have fond memories of their days at the beach.
Mashige said what sticks out for him is running into the waves and coming out without a costume. “I remember the embarrassment – the sea swallowed my shorts,” he said, laughing.
Kirkby said the children would often ask her how they switched on the waves for them to play in.
Dienaar said they would get homesick in their first few days, but when they were due to go back, they would cling to his legs because they wanted to stay.
HospiceWits’s Tree of Light will be switched on at the Joburg Zoo on Sunday, November 30. Entry is free from 5pm. The lights will be switched on at 7.15pm. Enjoy a zoo picnic basket or bring your own. Sacred Heart and the Welsh Male Choir will be performing.
By buying one of the globes, you will be contributing to The Star’s Seaside Fund and Hospice- Wits. Spread the message of love during the season of goodwill by dedicating an in-memory globe, which will help light up the 22nd Christmas Tree of Light. Dedications are published on the hospice website and globes cost R70 each. Go to www.hospicewits.co.za or www.starcharities.co.za to buy a globe or get in touch by e-mailing email@example.com.
INCANDESCENT GIFT: HospiceWits’s Tree of Light will be switched on at the Joburg Zoo on November 30. Bring your blanket, your picnic and your family.