My father was an orphan. At the age of 4 he contracted polio and was sent away to another school, 500 km away from his 3 siblings whom he didn't see again. (He went searching for them as an adult.) He received a bursary to attend university, but holidays proved to be a problem, he had nowhere to go. He donned his college's colours and hitchhiked through South Africa. He became an avid photographer on these trips, a skill he later taught me.
His story had an enormous and emotional impact on me. He died at the age of 54, and I always wondered what type of father he would've been if he was loved. In 2016 I had to close my music club due to 2 tremendous robberies. I was shattered and depressed, and took my last remaining money to start travelling our beautiful country. I have inherited my father's sense of adventure and restlessness.
By my side was my 16-year old rescue doggie, Pixel. We spent 8 months on the road, and were featured on local television and many newspapers and magazines. I started a page on Facebook and Instagram as Eenblond and a Hilux. My depression lifted, everyday was a new experience, I could finally see my way out again. I thought of my father often on this trip. I strongly believe that travel opens your mind, and was thinking about the many orphaned kids in Southern Africa who will never know the world outside their town or village. How can they dream about a bigger life, a brighter future, if they do not know what is out there? Imagine never having experienced a simple trip to the beach or the African bush. Hence, The Open Mind Foundation was born.
Aim of the Open Mind Foundation
1.To sign up holiday resorts and houses to donate free nights in order to enable families and foster parents providing orphaned children with a holiday experience within an intimate family atmosphere.
2.To sign up adventure, cultural and tourist experiences to older children who are still in the children’s home system.
3.To sign up holiday resorts, hotels and lodges to provide internship to school leavers in order to learn new skills, interact with guests and open horizons.
How and Why?
Pixel (now 17 years old!) and I will travel for 365 days non-stop and alone through Southern Africa to gather stock and create awareness for the foundation. Each lodge where we stay will be asked to sign up. We will also visit orphanages along the way to learn and share more about their needs. I also need to employ an admin staff member and develop websites.
There are many NGO's operating in Africa, but although often needed, I am weary of the hand-out culture. I believe assisting in creating open, fresh, inspired minds is vital to the survival of our struggling youth. I believe experience will breed entrepreneurial minds, so needed in our country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Our tourism industry is strong despite the economy, and creates wonderful opportunities for entrepreneurs. Due to our weak economy, your dollars, euros and pounds go a really long way here.
Think of your best holiday memory as a child. Please help me do the same for a child who already lost so much in life.