On Thanksgiving Day 2018, Drew and Neale left America bound for South Africa for the first full WIO motorcycle ride to directly benefit Wellspring. With Drew directing the tour from the support vehicle, and Neale leading on the road from the saddle of a BMWR1200GS they were joined by eight voluntourists for two weeks of travel and adventure.
During the 3,000-kilometer ride, the group visited many cultural and historical sites, as well as a full day in the world famous Kruger National Park where they got to see the “Big Five.” The Highlight of the tour came at the end though, where the group visited Wellspring’s projects in the Mzholozi settlement located on the outskirts of White River. Here, they got to meet WIO’s liaison, Charles Sanderson, long time friend of the foundation Louis Rascher and visit the structures built on previous trips. It was a long day, with many highlights, but once more Drew had carried 125 pairs of the “Shoes that grow” for the children so the group as able to distribute shoes to the many needy children. In addition, WIO provided a lunch for over 100 children who rely solely on the kindness of the local community volunteers who are responsible for feeding these children their one meal of the day.
A quick trip to see Ouma, our Centenarian Grandmother that Drew built the first WIO house for back in 2014. We also visited one of our community centers to meet with the ladies group who are producing crocheted animals we will be offering for sale shortly at the web site. The group, the brainchild of Tana Van Schalkwyk and Julianna Walters is known as the Ukuthunga. Or Queens of crochet in English.
While visiting the community center we met with Jacquie Smith and Damon Greville at Pro-Vision International to discuss a future partnership as they provide health care to the community. Our time in White River was made extra special thanks to our gracious hosts Alan and Lenora Williams of the Stone Crop Lodge: Our home away from home in South Africa.
Moving forward, we are feeling ever more positive about our work in South Africa, thanks to our friends and partners who are working tirelessly on the ground to address the enormous needs on a daily basis. As always, we thank you for your continued support and kindness in helping us help these wonderful people in our own small way.
At Wellspring, volunteers get to experience the adventure, excitement, fun, and love of visiting these regions and helping those in need. The end-goal of that adventure is to help these abandoned children and to potentially leave a lasting impact for those kids and their loved ones. But that is only one part of the volunteer experience at Wellspring. With us, you will get to experience these beautiful landscapes first hand, and as Hoobastank frontman Doug Robb put it, “You need to be here.”
Doug wrote this song after a trip with Wellspring founder Neale Bayly through the Alps in Europe. Neale wrote about the experience for Motorcyclist in an article called Reason to Ride which can be found here. He went on a trip with Doug and Hoobastank’s drummer Chris Hesse through Europe courtesy of BMW Motorcycles. The song was written to Doug’s wife who he believed needed to see the stunning sights for herself. Doug and Hoobastank dedicated the song from their album For(n)ever to Neale and Wellspring’s cause, because the message of the song parallels the volunteers’s experience perfectly. Volunteering at Wellspring is like nothing else and it’s something you need to experience for yourself to see the impact of your support. You need to be here.
I feel the wind rush across my face like an invisible wave crashing over me, I started holding my breath the moment I left wondering what the day was going to bring for me, but there’s no way that I could ever prepare for the scope of it all, for the chill in the air, the cold of the rain, the warmth of the day, I’m never going to be the same…
“You Need to be Here with Me” is the official mantra of the Wellspring experience. Michael Lust, Sally Frank, and Drew Alexander all previously wrote about their personal experiences traveling with Wellspring and how unforgettable of an experience it was for them. Each one of them going on to state that volunteering is a once-in-a-lifetime experience like no other.
I personally haven’t traveled with Wellspring yet, but this song heightens and captures my desire to give up my time for others. I’ve read about all of these incredible experiences in Peru and South Africa and can hardly wait to make experiences of my own. I can’t wait to bask in the beauty of these regions and the love of their people, and I can’t wait to channel that love into support for these children in any way that I can.
We want to thank Hoobastank for allowing us to use this song to potentially capture that desire for others. You can follow the band on Facebook and Twitter if you want to show them some thanks for supporting Wellspring’s message of excitement, love, and adventure.
Sally Ann Frank, a longtime Wellspring volunteer and contributor, spoke recently in an interview with Neale Bayly about her personal experience at Hogar Belen in Moquegua, Peru.
“It was really a different kind of experience, and one that I didn’t anticipate in any way. But it touched my heart in a place that I didn’t know existed.”
Sally Ann tells a story about her connection to Hogar Belen found in a girl named Maria, who is the same age as her daughter back home. In the interview below, Sally Ann talks about her time spent with Maria and how she gave whatever she could to help the girl and the people of Hogar Belen before she left.
As Sally Ann said, Hogar Belen is a community of love an acceptance. At Wellspring, it is our goal to spread the message of Hogar Belen, and to show others that helping those who are less fortunate can affect them in ways they never expected. Wellspring volunteers get a first hand experience at not just feeling like they’re making the world a better place, but they get to see their influence in action.
Sally Ann also wrote a blog post for Wellspring about the five words that help define Hogar Belen as her Happy Place. Check that out to learn more about her personal connection to the orphanage and how you could potentially learn to love Hogar Belen as a volunteer too.
Your donations go a long way toward helping the orphans and staff in Moquegua. As Sally Ann said, all donations go directly toward Hogar Belen and helping the orphanage flourish. Choosing to donate or volunteer today could start your life on a journey of self-discovery as well being an aid to those in need.
“Until you experience something like this, you don’t really know the depths of your ability and your compassion to love and open your heart.”
Wellspring’s Founder and President Neale Bayly recently wrote for BMW Magazine about his experience riding with a group of strangers through Peru towards Moquegua. In this article he writes of how friendships and bonds are formed by the harsh and unforgiving landscape of Peru, and how their group powered through the wind, rain, snow, and desert landscapes to reach their goal at Hogar Belen.
This story showcases just one of the many ways that volunteers can potentially visit the site at Hogar Belen, and this is certainly one of the most adventurous. In Neale’s own words:
“There is a joy in watching a group of strangers become friends. The camaraderie, the support, and the shared adventure add to the magnitude of the experience, as each day brings new highs, sights, sounds and smells. Peru is never easy; it demands your full attention. It punishes the weak. But it also rewards the strong and attentive with incredibly rare, precious moments like holding a baby llama, taking pictures of an indigenous Indian in local dress, or sharing the excitement of the previous stretch of dirt road with a dozen dusty comrades at the next coffee stop.”
The group took many stops along the way; The wonderous sights of Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, to the snow-capped mountains at Arequipa where riders had to fight intense weather, as well as thinning air that made it a struggle just to breath. But thanks to their perseverance, and their eight BMW motorcycles, they were able to make it through the terrain relatively unscathed.
Read more about Neale Bayly’s experience on BMW Magazine’s website here:
Michael Lust, a volunteer with Wellspring International, gave great insight into what he learned from his time at Hogar Belen:
“Open your hearts. If you can’t come down and help, help monetarily. It doesn’t take much… The cost of a latte goes a long way down here.”
People often wonder what they can expect when they volunteer at a place like Hogar Belen. What exactly do you do all day? Who are you working with? What do you eat while you’re there?
Michael discusses the volunteer experience with Wellspring International and our team in Moquegua, Peru and covers what other volunteers could expect from their time volunteering at Hogar Belen in this interview.
In just a week, Michael helped build two temporary living quarters and fixed a tractor, some chairs, and a few roofs. He helped us move closer to our goal, but most importantly he learned about the love, passion, and sacrifice that drives the staff at Hogar Belen.
As Michael stated, helping our cause takes much less effort than you might think. When you volunteer, you work with a team of incredibly passionate people all working together to reach a common goal. You, our team, and the staff at Hogar Belen will work together to continually make this a more hospitable place.
If volunteering isn’t possible for you, donating even the smallest amount can go a long way in making sure our project in Moquegua keeps moving forward.
This post will chronicle Drew Alexander’s trip to South Africa as part of Wellspring International Outreach’s (WIO) project to build a home for orphan children. This is through Drew’s friendship with motorcycle photographer and journalist, Neale Bayly, who founded WIO. This blog begins with Drew already in South Africa about to begin the project.
November 6, 2014
I have been in White River for 2 days & while I’m becoming more comfortable in my new surrounding, I am still struggling with driving on the other side of the road. I keep getting in the car on the passenger side. I think I will get the hang of it by the time I return home!