SCIF Blue Bag for Tharros Child and Youth Care Center

By Tom Mattusch

On a recent trip to South Africa with Thormahlen & Cochran, Lisa and I wanted to continue our tradition of working with the SCIF Humanitarian efforts by taking a Blue Bag.  Karen Crehan sent me a new Bell Family bag with a few items as a starter along with the suggested list of ideas on how to fill the bag.

The airlines have gotten a lot more stringent on luggage, so we decided to buy items locally, which was also a suggestion.  With a goal of $200 in mind, we worked with Peter and Anso Thormahlen to look for a donation facility, in conjunction with our PH, Mario Tinkler.

There was an orphanage in Hankey, The Tharros Child & Youth Care Center.  Driving through some of the small towns as we travelled from hunt concession to hunt concession, I was worried about how we would find an adequate place to shop.  Mario assured me there was a local chain of stores, PEP, that made Walmart look expensive.

Mario said there were routinely children of various ages at the facility, therefore various sizes needed.  Lisa and I had a great time picking out shoes, socks, pants, shirts, blouses, underwear, jackets, sweatshirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, boys toys, girls toys, hygiene products, coloring books, decals, crayons, colored pencils, pens, paper, notebooks and miscellaneous items until we couldn’t carry anymore, had filled our Blue Bag and still had bags of merchandise.

When you hear the word orphanage, you don’t expect it to be going to a cheerful place.  We entered with all our purchases. In my mind’s eye, I wanted to lay everything out, hold the bag and banner and take a couple pictures with all the folks.  In the main room, it was a bit dark, so I asked the light to be turned on.  The single long tube fluorescent bulb did not work.  OK, so money was an issue.  Had I known a bulb would have helped, it would have been a simple contribution.

We went into a room with a window, perhaps a lunchroom since the kitchen was adjacent.  There was only one table in the room, again, no working light.  The pictures don’t do justice, the set up wasn’t perfect.  Going in to see the hollow looks on those soulful faces was sad.  One little boy’s eyes lit up when he saw the SCIF soccer ball and couldn’t wait for the pictures to be over to start rolling the SCIF Soccer ball around.  I had a dozen tennis balls for folks to play with, a bag of ballpoint pens scrounged from around the office, plus all our purchases.

We left after many thanks and were assured children come and children go from the Center on a regular basis.  We were thankful we bought items for very young up to teenagers.  We left Hankey on our way to the Queenstown area for the next leg of our journey.