By Alice Monarch
A few years ago, a new dimension was added to the SCI Blue Bag program with the sponsorship of the Amy Bell Family “Pay It Forward” SCI Blue Bag. After the sudden death of Amy Bell, a young huntress and philanthropist, her family teamed up with the SCI Foundation and purchased SCI Blue Bags for hunters so as to encourage hunters to purchase and personally deliver school supplies, clothing and the like to impoverished children around the world. The Bell Family’s plan was for hunters to leave the Blue Bags with the outfitters and landowners who would encourage other hunters/outfitters to shop locally and take gifts to the native children to enhance hunters’ images and to avoid the excessive excess baggage charges frequently imposed by the airlines.
On a recent safari to South Africa, KYSCI co-sponsored a Bell SCI Blue Bag with me. By contacting a local South African sewing company, my hosts, Jan and Noel Ross whose property is part of the Baviaans River Conservancy, arranged for the ladies of this sewing company to custom make track suits for all 26 students of a local rural school.
Keeping with the Bell Family’s wishes, my KYSCI Chapter co-sponsored Bell SCI Blue Bag was left with my Professional Hunter, Vlam Myburg of Madubula Safaris, to be used by the next hunter who wanted to leave gifts for the native children and my SCI Blue Bag did not have to sit idle for long! Vlam, who was going to be hunting again on the Ross Family Farm, had told his next hunting party about the program. The following week, Vlam helped another hunting couple purchase gifts locally then used that same Bell SCI Blue Bag to deliver soccer balls, school supplies and clothing to the same school!
These children, their teacher, and the community definitely see hunters in a favorable light! Vlam explained to the storeowners and to the locals that we were American hunters and we were buying gifts for the farm children. Following the Bell Family’s plan was positive in several ways: we, as American hunters, were seen as caring people by the locals; the store/business owners were happy that we Americans were spending money in his/her store; we could use the $150+/- of extra airline baggage fees saved to purchase more for the children; and the Rand/Dollar exchange rate made it possible for us to buy more for the children.
Taking and/or filling the SCI Blue Bag for the native children can be the highlight of your safari. By searching Amy Bell Family “Pay It Forward” SCI Blue Bag on the Internet, you can learn more about participating in this truly rewarding program.