The children came home with the biggest smiles I have ever seen.
- Karen from Youth Empowerment Organisation

The Emily Wong Story

By: Zakiya Atkinson

“I went to Cape Town seeking a ‘unique’ experience, but what I didn’t for see was the impact that it would have on me; the way it surprisingly moved me and even changed me.” Emily Wong- Melbourne, Australia

Emily Wong had no idea “what a difference a day makes”. One day with Sisanda Fundaytion would change her outlook foreverand be a highlight to the beginning of her next chapter in life.  Emily had arrived to Cape Town anticipating her volunteer experience with an ecological architecture firm.  Understandably naive to what was next to come, she heard of Sisanda Fundaytion’s search for volunteers.  Her sister, also in South Africa at the time, was eager to answer the call and so they went.  The day began with a group of volunteers being bused to a township outside of Cape Town to retrieve the children for a zoo excursion.  “At first, I wasn’t too thrilled but my feelings started to change as we entered the place and I realized that some of the kids had never seen a monkey in their lives.” (Emily Wong) 

The joy, laughter, and intensity of a new experiencesaturated any morsels of apprehension.  “Full of excitement and fear, my kids clung on to me tightly for a sense of protection-and I held onto them back giving them just that”, says Emily.  Typical of children, they had grasped the connection and embraced Emily as a role model and a friend, but by the end of the day Emily was certain that the roles were equal.  

Emily completed her placement and returned to Melbourne, all the while reflecting on that day and realizing how incredibly lucky she was for the family, education, and opportunities she had been afforded throughout her life.  She had developed an admiration and a connection to the mission of Sisanda Fundaytion,so when the email came she answered the call again.  She rallied all she knew to contribute to the NGO’s drive to raise funds for a centre in Johannesburg.  Sisanda Fundaytion was greatly impacted by Emily’s support and Emily and was touched by the support of her family and friends. 

The story doesn’t end there…

Unbeknownst to Sisanda FunDaytion, Emily was still in search of ways to support a mission that would impact her life for years to come.  As she delved into the next chapter of her life through marriage, she would make yet another contribution to the children of South Africa and plant a seed into the hearts and minds of those she knew.  Newlyweds Emily and Max would donate a significant portion of their monetary wedding gifts to the Sisanda FunDaytion in honour of their guests.  They informed their guests of their contribution to an NGO, who since 2009 has touched the lives of almost two thousand children from 40 orphanages, clinics, and community centres.  How’s that for a return on investment? In a brief message to Sisanda FunDaytion, Emily and Max warmly stated, “we’ll just cut our honeymoon short ;p…give the kids a hug from us.” 

“What a difference a day makes”…and so the story goes…