Leaving Indelible Footprints
Just Footprints Foundation’s (JFF) vision is to leave an indelible footprint on the lives of a special group of children: children who are living with serious health or life challenges, ones that may even be life-threatening.
The challenges they face have all but stripped these children of the opportunity to be just children, to experience all the fun and sheer joy of life that should be part of childhood.
Many of them are fighting a heroic battle with a serious illness, one that may even be life-threatening. Some of them may need the help of assistance devices. Others may need to be always close to medical attention. Still, others may be living with HIV and a strict regime of medication. Or they may be part of a sibling-headed household for which every day is a battle to survive in a hostile world.
For such children, a childhood filled with fun and laughter, jumping and playing, make-believe and fantasy seems like a distant dream, one they seem destined never to experience. Just Footprints Foundation makes dreams come true for children such as this.
JFF is creating a unique experience for these children, at no cost to them, at various campsites in the breathtaking beauty of South Africa’s biodiverse environments, including the African bush. It’s an encounter that can profoundly change a life, creating a depth of spiritual awareness that brings peace and serenity, even to young children.
JFF brings all the experience and reputation of founding partners CHOC Children Cancer Foundation South Africa, The Reach For A Dream Foundation, Cotlands and the Hope (Ithemba) Trust to its vision for its children. In addition, the organisation is working towards becoming a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network organisation in the United States Africa, thereby striving to achieve the highest standards in the global camping movement, while at the same time offering an experience that is uniquely African.
The organisation’s vision is to, “Provide a special journey of life-changing experiences for each child that will leave an imprint on their hearts with hope for the future.” Its mission is to create an environment where each individual, child and adult can be physically and emotionally safe, feel support and love and always be treated with kindness and respect. Its mission is to host 2 000 campers annually.
Since the founding of Just Footprints in 2008, nearly 1 500 children have been given the experience of a lifetime through 31 camps in three provinces.
JFF’s is establishing its own campsite, Africa’s first-ever fully dedicated camping site for such children, in the heart of the Dinokeng Big Five Game Reserve, Tshwane, enabling the Foundation to bring the African bush experience into the lives of the children. Of course, such a facility is both a huge opportunity – to create a unique environment that best meets the needs of the children – and a big challenge to raise the capital needed. A major capital drive is currently underway to meet this challenge.
The reserve is within easy reach of the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg and Pretoria in Gauteng, and yet is a lifetime away from the pressure and congestion of South Africa’s economic heartland. As a malaria-free area, Dinokeng is ideal for children whose fragile health requires that they are protected from opportunistic illnesses.
Dinokeng, home to the Big Five, enables JFF to bring the African bush experience into the lives of our children, allowing them to put aside the cares of their serious challenges for a few glorious moments.
Extraordinary care is going into the planning and construction of its facility at Dinokeng. Not only will it provide a completely barrier-free environment, it will also be fully equipped to deal with any sudden medical emergency that may arise. A full complement of psychological and therapeutic services will be always on call for the children, ensuring that no child’s experience is in any way diminished during their time with JFF.
A range of green building technologies is being employed, including natural building technologies, solar water and electrical systems, and grey water recycling systems. It is all part of the organisation’s journey to create a sustainable encounter in which child and wilderness are fully integrated for the mutual good of both.
Within this uniquely-created environment, children will be – and feel – completely safe and nurtured in the midst of the African bush. It is a setting that will allow them to simply relax and enter into the wonderful world of childhood, helping to create in each child a wellspring of confidence and hope for the future.
A sparkling time is in store for the children on its camps as their days are filled with the joy of childhood. Whether through the creativity of an arts and crafts workshop, the challenge of a specially-designed obstacle course, the discovery of the natural world, the fascination of story-telling, the bonding of team work – everything is geared towards making this a special and memorable time for each child.
And at the end of a hectic day, one that has spilled over with fun and laughter, the lure of the campfire, crackling under the canopy of stars in the vast African sky, unites the children in a radiant hope for a future, however fragile. For the JFF, it is a moment to ponder again its vision to provide a special journey of life-changing experiences for each child, leaving an imprint on their hearts of hope for the future.
To view the Just Footprints Foundation in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.