HELPING AFRICA- Scott and Jo-Ann Grimwood look over a scrapbook they made from his travels to Africa. They’ve helped raise money for schools and other needed facilities through the Seed of Hope organization.

Local couple finds small ways to make big differences

A trip that brought a local man across the globe has turned into a change in the way he and his wife live at home.

Scott Grimwood of Penhold travelled with seven friends from his church to South Africa in 2007. The team had raised $13,000 to help the Seed of Hope, an organization that provides an after school drop-in centre for children, an HIV testing facility and a hospice in the township of Bhekulwandle, an area 20 minutes outside of the city of Durban.

He and his wife Jo-Ann have since adopted a lifestyle of looking for small ways to bring lasting change in the far-away community.

“There is so much that can be done,” says Scott who recalls that when he first arrived in the township what stood out to him were all the needs.

He went to paint and repair facilities, taught English in the after school program, and visited homes in the community. Seeing how AIDS wreaked havoc on many of the families especially impacted him who noticed how a whole generation seemed to be missing because of the disease.

Scott and the team also witnessed that a little money can go a long ways toward helping people in the area. After four days of work at the centre, the repairs and painting were complete.

Once they had purchased all the items the Seed of Hope had requested they buy with the monies raised, the team still had $9,000 left over. “We gave the employees an extra pay cheque and gave money for the hospice.”

A run down building across the street also caught Scott’s eye. On a small plot of dirt with no fence, the facility served as a day care centre for about 70 kids.

When he returned to Canada, Scott got word of just how difficult the situation had become. Twenty-eight children were kept in an eight by eight ft. room while 40 others were kept in another. With no electricity or fans and with temperatures outside reaching more than 30C, the place was sweltering.

Stray dogs roam the streets in the area and because there was no fence, it was not safe for the kids to play outside, so they were cooped up each day in the small building. “Somebody had to do something about it.”

So he and Jo-Ann got to work.

“We did simple little things that make a difference,” says Jo-Ann. Through their contact at Seed of Hope they learned how much it would cost to hire a local contractor to build a fence for the day care. The couple then started to fundraise, selling recipe cards for a South African pudding and wristbands.

They also organized a mini trade show and sold poinsettias. “We just sent $1,600 and covered the cost of the fence.”

In looking back at the experience, Scott says that while he was in the township a “light switch went on.” North Americans, he says, have needs and wants mixed up. “Over there they need a meal, they need anti-retroviral drugs. We don’t need a colour TV.”

Their connection with the Seed of Hope remains strong. The couple have helped to start a pen-pal program between children at the Seed of Hope and their small church in Caroline. They’ve also sent floor hockey sticks to teach the South African children hockey and given books so the children can practice reading in English.

These days, the couple also make a conscious effort to make small sacrifices. Instead of going out for dinner, they put money they would spend on a meal into a jar. At the end of a few months they count up the money they would have spent on themselves and give it away to worthwhile projects.

“We’re certainly not wealthy,” says Jo-Ann. “Every year we do one or two things to make sure we keep giving.”

Seeing changes in children’s lives also continues to motivate the Grimwoods.

“Where once I saw broken windows, grass up to my knees, buildings in disrepair and kids I felt sorry for,” says Scott, “I now see hope.”

Just Posted

Johnny 2 Fingers and the Deformities play The Vat April 27th

Moose Jaw band is on a 39-day national tour from Quebec City to Vancouver

Council highlights

Council to fund Rimbey Boys and Girls Club for $15,000

WATCH: Second annual Our Best To You Craft Sale on now

Red Deerians can expect over 150 artisans, makers and designers

Red Deer RCMP look for James Holley on warrants

Holley is believed to be in possession of firearms

‘Battle of the Badges’ charity hockey game raises funds for Humboldt Broncos

Red Deer Emergency Services and RCMP will play hockey for a good cause

WATCH: ‘Battle of the Badges’ event raises money for Humboldt Broncos

Red Deerians get together at charity hockey tournament April 20th at Servus Arena

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Most Read