StreetSmart South Africa paid tribute to the generosity of international companies that had decided to give back within the SA context, on International Day for Street Children, Sunday 12 April. A sponsored function was held at one of the StreetSmart restaurants, the Grand Café in Cape Town. Trevor Fernandes , Managing Director of Wildlife Safari from Australia, and Representatives of the International Luxury Travel Show (ILTM) were recognised for the R25,000 in donations that each have made to StreetSmart last week.
Margi Biggs (Founder of StreetSmart SA) and Trevor Fernandes (MD of Wildlife Safari),
Natalie Weatherer (ILTM) and Marco Balia (ILTM)
Fernandes, who has over forty years' experience in the African inbound travel industry, is currently in South Africa for the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) event. The ILTM is an annual showcase of the very best in luxury product, and each year invite and host noteworthy travel buyers from around the World to this exclusive event. A supporter of StreetSmart SA, Fernandes requested that the money the ILTM had designated to spend on hosting him, be donated to StreetSmart SA instead – an amount which he then personally matched. He believes that the initiative goes a long way in making a difference in the lives of street children, and comments: "What StreetSmart SA is doing is fantastic. By providing a means of funding other organisations that support, educate and rehabilitate street children, it essentially gives people a responsible means of helping those who cannot help themselves. I firmly believe that we should each do what we can to contribute to the upliftment of others."
In South Africa, the growing number of children who live on the streets is concerning. While there are many reasons that these children end up in this position, and compassion is natural and encouraged, Founder of StreetSmart SA, Margi Biggs explains that giving them money directly is not the answer: "The exploitation of street children is rife. Many impoverished youngsters are used by adults and forced to beg in order to get money – sometimes for food, sometimes for drugs or alcohol. While the urge to give these children money is understandable, it in fact makes begging a viable alternative to seeking proper help and can only perpetuate the poverty and abuse cycle."
Biggs adds: "We are truly grateful to Trevor and ILTM for this kind donation. It will go a long way in helping these children off of the streets and guiding them towards a brighter, sustainable future."