I wonder if you can imagine 48 twelve- to eighteen-year-old South African youth leaving their small town for a weekend in a lush and beautiful camp at the base of 3000 foot mountains. Teepees and open green space, a trampoline, rope tree swings and a lake of fresh, clean, cool water to go swimming in. This could only have been a dream before John Jacobs and Joan Johnson created the Riviersonderend Community Foundation and LoveLight began funding what is now called Ubuntu Camp.
This past January, three former YOU (Youth of Unity) young adults were sponsored by LoveLight as ambassadors to go to South Africa with all costs on the ground in South Africa covered. Their goal: to put on a YOU-style rally called Ubuntu Camp 2014. The application to be an International Youth Ambassador (IYA) went out in the spring of 2013.
LoveLight’s committee decided on two ambassadors and one alternate, at which point a private donor stepped forward and funded the third person as well. Each volunteer ambassador raised the funds necessary for their airfare.
In July 2013, following the IYOU event at Unity Village, the three ambassadors spent the weekend at The Light Center (a Unity retreat center and working farm). They connected with each other and learned how they would work together and with Martin and Kelly Dowman, who would be leading this adventure.
Traveling to South Africa after Christmas 2013, these young adults began a journey of service to humanity and awareness of the effect that we as individuals can make. They met people who had been in prisons during apartheid and saw Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was himself imprisoned. They witnessed the dramatic difference between those with wealth and those struggling to stay alive in orphanages.
On New Year’s Day, they traveled to Riviersonderend, a town named for a nearby river that is translated to mean “river without end.” A day there, and then they traveled straight into Ubuntu Camp with the 48 youth plus adults from the community. Including the three ambassadors, there were eleven volunteers with LoveLight supporting the camp.
The experience would be hard to explain in just a few words so we would like to invite you to hear it directly from these IYAs as we offer a short video about their trip.