“Thank you for the surprise, it was beyond our expectation.” These were the words echoed by all the children and their educators who attended our seaside programme.
2014 marked the fourteenth year of our seaside event, as we celebrate 21 years of serving the poor. To date, we have taken more than seventeen thousand children to Silverstreambeach, situated on the West Coast Road on the outskirts of Cape Town. (http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/SportRecreation/Pages/SilwerstroomBeach.aspx)
This year was no different, as we invited more than 1,000 children from as far afield as De Doorns, Touws River and Worcester. We also invited children from local townships such as Bonteheuwel, Heideveld, Manenberg, Milnerton, Vrygrond, Lavender Hill, Philippi, Phumlani, Mfuleni and Khayelitsha.
This event is one of our biggest treats for these children, who come from all walks of life, especially those who have never seen the sea. It has become an educational excursion, as the children have the opportunity to learn so much about the environment.
It was once said that it is so important for a child’s development to get in touch with nature; the feeling of the sand between their toes, the splashing in the sea water and the magnitude of the sea is something that these children have never experienced. As one little girl said, “look at the snow on the water”. She was referring to the waves that resemble snow on the surface of the sea, and for the children it was a sight to behold. Another girl tasted the water and said, why is the water so salty, who made the water salty? Did we make the water salty because we know that they were coming to the seaside?
This is the difference that a simple day-trip to the seaside makes – it can and will broaden their knowledge and horizons, offering a glimpse of a life away from the circumstances that they know and, perhaps, inspiring them to a greater future.
Many of the parents are seasonal workers and struggle to make ends meet. An invitation like this is something that will never ordinarily come their way. This was truly a magical experience, as their eyes lit up in the wonderment at the prospect of the bus-ride to the seaside.
The staff of Signature of Hope Trust brought special joy to the day when they brought along a variety of games to keep the children entertained. They played running potato games, the jumping castle, the hoola hoops, the ball games on the beach and, most of all, the children loved the face painting. (www.signatureofhope.org/)
A lovely surprise for any child is the appearance of Father Christmas, who handed out gifts to all the children. Their curiosity quickly got the better of them and they delved into the gift bags to see what treasures lay within.
This is our annual gift to the children who endure so much hardship and deprivation. For many of them, this will be the only Christmas gift that they will receive. We thank all our friends and supporters, especially Salfreds Bus Company, for their loyal support.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the management, staff, security and the life savers of Silverstroom Beach, who assisted us in ensuring that this was a safe and enjoyable event for everyone who attended.