Cape Town Has My Heart

Name: Erin Lee

Type of Project: Artistic & Creative Endeavors

  1. Cape Town, South Africa was the final destination of my STEP journey this past August. On this service trip alongside Dr. J, my hands were busy working with the Sakhulwazi Hub who’s objective was to empower people of Philippi to solve problems through innovative and sustainable solutions for the community at largeIMG_0225IMG_0200
  2. One paragraph does not suffice in summarizing the transformative journey the people of Cape Town, South Africa led me down. Wisdom, gratitude, understanding, active listening, appreciation, and love are words that briefly sum up the overwhelming emotions I experienced while in South Africa. Journeying thirty hours or so to reach Cape Town, I was constantly tossing thoughts and expectations in my head of what I thought I would see and experience. I have never been so wrong, and for once I’m extremely glad that I was. On my flight back to Columbus, Ohio I understood that I would never be the same. Flying thousands of miles away from home to a foreign world that is engulfed in my veins, I knew that I was made to be a light. As cliche as this may sound, one thing I understood of myself after this trip was that I have a duty to serve people. Gandhi said it best, “Service is the rent you pay here on this Earth”. My time on this Earth here is precious, and as I climb I aspire to lift those who need a helping hand. After this trip, I vowed to always have an open and helping hand.



3. Working with an outstanding woman affectionately called, “Mama Rosie” was the highlight of my experience in South Africa. Her infectious smile inspired me to be a light and to others in need. The relationship I cultivated with her inspired my desire to serve because of her will to be of service to others within the community. As a pillar within her community, through daily activities of gardening and sowing, she empowers women who desire to better themselves. Grasping all the information I could, one grand lesson I learned from Mama Rosie was to continuously teach others what I have learned because you may never know how that lesson may uplift and empower another. In Cape Town, I had the opportunity to see and learn about the increasing gap of wealth and health equities between the rich and the poor. Listening to the stories of people within the township of Phillipi, I learned about their daily struggles to access a human’s bare necessities like water. Something, I have take for granted everyday. This experience transformed my way of thinking spiritually because I began to notice that I forgot to be thankful for the smallest of things that so many people live without. Working with health aids within the township, we had the opportunity to hear the stories of the ill and poor. One man’s story changed my life. Though the language barrier was apparent, I could feel his pain, raw emotions, and faith. This whirlwind of emotions took an extreme toll on me and forced me to self reflect. Being completely transparent, this elderly man poured his heart out to us about his struggles, his sorrows, his fear, and ultimately his faith that everything would be okay. Suffering from cancer, he told us about his troubles with access to quality medicine, a nearby hospital, quality health care, and his lack of access to food to support his dietary restrictions. In the midst of all this pain, the one thing he said that had never failed was his faith. This moment was the most jaw-dropping, heart pounding, tear jerking moment of my life, and for one moment I felt helpless and human. These raw emotions are the most difficult to describe, but at this moment I knew that I needed to do something.

  1. To my lifestyle, this change was significantly valuable because I have seen that in everything I do I am happy. At times, we get the idea of happiness confused. By serving others, I am happy because I am ‘doing happy’. Positive action for others has molded my journey in life in a positive manner in which I have truly been ecstatic to get up every morning and do the things in which I love. This journey has to driven me pursue a Master’s Degree intertwining the fields of social work and public health to help the world be a better place one day.

Check out this video to see more of my journey: