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

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HARTSHORNE

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 info@hospicewits.co.za.

PIC­TURE: TI­MOTHY BERNARD

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.

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