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Gilda Swanepoel's Fundraiser:

Open young minds, by giving orphans their first, unforgettable, life-changing holiday experience.

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BENEFITING:

Gilda Swanepoel

THE STORY:

My father was an orphan. At the age of 4 he contracted polio and was sent away to another school, 500 km away from his 3 siblings whom he didn't see again. (He went searching for them as an adult.) He received a bursary to attend university, but holidays proved a problem, he had nowhere to go. So he donned his college's colours and hitchhiked through South Africa. He became an avid photographer on these trips, a skill he later taught me. His story had an enormous and emotional impact on me. He died at the age of 54, and I always wondered what type of father he would've been if he was loved. In 2016 I had to close my music club due to 2 tremendous robberies. I was shattered and depressed, and took my last remaining money to start travelling our beautiful country. I have inherited my father's sense of adventure and restlessness. By my side was my 16-year old rescue doggie, Pixel. We spent 8 months on the road, and was featured on local television and many newspapers and magazines. I started a page on Facebook and Instagram as Eenblond and a Hilux. My depression lifted, everyday was a new experience, I could finally see my way out again. I thought of my father often on this trip. I strongly believe that travel opens your mind, and was thinking about the many orphaned kids in Southern Africa who will never know the world outside their town or village. How can they dream about a bigger life, a brighter future, if they do not know what is out there? Imagine never having experienced a simple trip to the beach or the African bush. Hence, The Open Mind Foundation was born. The Open Mind Foundation is a non-profit, who aims to collect free holiday accommodation and experiences for orphaned kids, as well as create awareness around the programs where you can take orphaned kids into your home and family on weekends or holidays. Pixel (now 17 years old!) and I will travel for 365 days non-stop and alone through Southern Africa to gather stock for the foundation. Each lodge where we stay will be asked to donate free nights. We will also visit orphanages along the way to learn more about their needs. My aim is to sign up 1500 free nights in one year. There are many NGO's operating in Africa, but although often needed, I am weary of the hand-out culture. I believe assisting in creating open, fresh, inspired minds is vital to the survival of our struggling youth. I believe experience will breed entrepreneurial minds, so needed in our country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Due to our weak economy, your dollars, euros and pounds go a really long way here. Think of your best holiday memory as a child. Please help me do the same for a child who already lost so much in life.

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Gilda is working on selecting a charity so you can support Open young minds, by giving orphans their first, unforgettable, life-changing holiday experience..