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Making a difference at fifteen

By Jaime Watkins – 

“I am very proud of my fifteen-year old granddaughter, Jaime Watkins. Individuals can make a difference. I would love to hear from other young South Africans, who are making a difference through their involvement in community-based projects,” Sue de Waal.

I’m someone who puts everything into anything I do, whether it’s simply making a cup of tea or helping organise an event. In this instance, what started out as a simple school art project, morphed into something much more.

In Grade 7, life was easy. My friend Zoe and I were top of the class, I was involved in multiple clubs and sporting codes and like I said everything was the way it was supposed to be. Until all of that changed and my Grade 6 teacher, Mrs Franken, got sick again. Mrs Franken was in remission after having cancer a few years back and her story was something that she often shared with us to help remind us of what we had in life.

And so the word “Cancer” has always been a major part of my life. Our art project presented me with the platform to try and make a difference to the cancer patients in our community, to help someone feel like someone cares about them. Another thing that has been the basis of my emotional stability, is trail running! This type of running isn’t for everyone. It takes grit, commitment and the willingness to get completely encased in mud at completely random times. Buffs are multifunctional headwear that are a popular accessory in the running department and so we decided to create a business called Buffs and Bangles and are selling them in order to raise funds for the Lettie Love Fund.

The Lettie Love Fund is a charity started by an amazing man called Zoog Haynes. They transport cancer patients to their chemotherapy appointments in order to ensure that they get there in a safe and secure manner. They believe that people with cancer shouldn’t have to fight anything other than their disease.

I worked with a partner for this project, but the parts that I was responsible for were the charity and basically the entire organisational part of the project, and let me tell you, it was not an easy task. Getting permission for various decisions we had to make, dealing with suppliers and of course the setbacks that come with anything in life were just a few of the things that I had to contend with.

Selling these buffs and bangles was an interesting and ultimately an extremely rewarding process. Of course the process involved multiple forms of rejection but overcoming them taught me some valuable life lessons and I wouldn’t change any part of it if I could.

I hope that this project will continue to grow over time because I think that helping people is important. We as humans tend to get absorbed by the mediocre elements of life and sometimes forget about the simple things that make life easy, like being healthy or able to get to a doctor without much hassle. This entire process has led me to the conclusion that if you want to change something that you believe is unjust or unfair, you need to take the initiative and push for that cause with everything that you’ve got. Nothing in life comes easily and the work that goes into everything makes the end product that much more satisfying.

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