Travel inevitably involves meeting an abundance of people. You’ll probably make good memories with most, but few people leave an impression that will not fade. This isn’t necessarily a reflection upon a bland character – as any one who has traveled will probably note, there are many faces that, upon reflection, a name or even a place cannot be put to. It’s just one of those things… an enduring impression is a unique thing to stumble across. 

Therefore from the moment I met Flora Modiba, I was absolutely struck by her. Straight away I knew that she was unforgettable.

Pushing 70 years old, Flora is more mentally and physically active than most 21 year olds I know. She wears a big smile and a big heart proudly on her sleeve, and was kind enough to show me around her project – Arebaokeng Hospice.

The hospice currently houses around 160 children, many of whom are orphans. Arebaokeng feeds them, gives them books and toys to play with, and contributes to the stability in the early stages of their life. They’ve got big plans for the future, and despite a few stumbling blocks, are pretty confident in getting to where they want to be. 

This hospice was founded by Flora, and has grown substantially through nothing but hard work and perseverance. To meet someone so dedicated to the service of others for no reason other than that she cares was… I don’t know. It was something that’s certainly hard to put into words – at least words that escape tired cliches and a sense of pretentiousness. 

I’m not a fan of going into disadvantaged people’s lives and taking a look around whilst i’m traveling. It feels a bit too much like ‘Rich Westerner in ‘Is this really your life?!‘ But with my visit to Arebaokeng, it felt different. I walked in, whimpering and moaning at another bout of the flu, and was blown away by the reality of many people’s situations in Johannesburg. Not just the reality of suffering that is so often portrayed of third world country’s in the Western media, but the reality of people who sacrifice everything in their lives to help others. Needless to say, I swiftly put a stop to my sniveling and nose-blowing.

Meeting people like Flora, and all the people that work and volunteer at the hospice for that matter, really is a rarity. To find this level of selflessness maybe it is necessary to remove yourself from the same old tired travel routes and backpacker hostels and go and experience a part of a country, culture or community that really makes a difference. After all, there’s more to exploring the world than a string of blurry faces and hazy memories – no matter how fun they were at the time. 

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