Higgins recently returned home to Australia after spending the past 12 years living in South Africa. The demand for not only education, but basic resources like clothing, bedding and food has grown. “For people in fortunate countries, it’s hard to understand what a gift it is to be able to just put food on the table,” says Higgins. The charity started working with women in old age homes who would knit clothing for the children, much needed during the cold Cape Town winters. “The children all live in little tin shacks with the wind whistling through in the cold months. It was just such a blessing to be able to give them warmth.”

Higgins says she’s incredibly proud of her adopted daughter Kristy, who graduated from high school and is now training in lodge management in a wildlife reserve. “She sent me a beautiful letter when it was my birthday last month about how I have been an inspiratio­n to her. “The charity is now being run by Claude, a Rwandan refugee who has become almost like another son to Higgins.

“I helped him when he arrived here alone 10 years ago. He escaped when soldiers arrived in the middle of the night and killed his elderly father in front of the family,” she says. “I found him a job in the charity and he worked with me. It was comforting to have Claude looking out for me. Everyday we would load up the van full of bread and distribute it to the poorest families.”

Higgins says while it’s great to be back in a safe place, she still misses South Africa, especially Claude and Kristy. “I can’t wait for Kristy to come here to Australia, I’ve already brought her here four times on holidays.” Meanwhile, she’s still in regular contact with Claude. “I talk to him several times a week to give him advice and such. He sent me a photo the other day saying, ‘I am now the manager!’,” she laughs.

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