Love for South Africa

Yesterday, as we were finishing our dinner, we found out that “THE CONTAINER” has finally arrived in Durban! All the young volunteers from the US got really excited, and we all ran to the truck outside. We were all cheerfully chitchatting away as we watched the giant big rig try to fit into the long, narrow driveway. Of course it didn’t work, so we quickly formed an assembly line to unload our precious cargo along the street and pass all the boxes up the driveway to the storage area. Even though the seemingly infinite number boxes were heavy and covered in dust, everyone was laughing and in high spirits as we unloaded the truck. To understand why we were all so happy to see “THE CONTAINER,” you need to know where it came from and what it contains.

A few months ago, our very own Eddie Chang from New York, took on the challenge of coordinating a book drive. The goal at the time was to bring 5,000 books from the United States to the orphans in South Africa. That book drive soon blew up into a nationwide drive for not only books, but also stationary, pencil bags, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and computers. For two months, Tzu Chi youth volunteers approached their schools, local libraries, various businesses, other non-profit organizations, friends, and family in cities all over the United States to collect donations. They asked everyone to send their love to the children of South Africa in the form of these donated items. Tzu Ching and Tzu Shao (college and high school Tzu Chi volunteers) also added a personal touch by hand-writing words of encouragement for the children in South Africa. The result of this collaborative effort across the United States is over 28,000 books; 20 computers; 2,300 pencil bags; and 3,000 dental hygiene kits. Each one was carefully sorted, cataloged, packed, loaded into “THE CONTAINER,” and shipped to South Africa in mid-June.

Upon our arrival in Johannesburg last week, we found out that “THE CONTAINER” had also just arrived in Johannesburg the night before, and it still needed to clear customs. Unfortunately, we would not be able to distribute the gifts for the whole first half of our visit to South Africa…

Tomorrow, we will finally be able to hand-deliver the gifts from our American family to the students we have been visiting at Addington Primary and Duff’s Road Primary here in the Greater Durban Area. Please see the video below (posted a couple days ago) for a clip of one class at Duff’s Road and its mastery of Mandarin Chinese and Tzu Chi values. Aren’t these kids amazing? I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow! But it’ll be bittersweet. On one hand, I feel so honored to be able to bring them all the love we gathered for them back home in the United States. On the other hand, it’ll be sad to goodbye because tomorrow is our last full day in Durban.

-Tiffany Pan

Posted by The Power of 5 - South Africa · Aug 17, 2011