Be the Cause

Seventeen Travelers will visit the HIV/AIDS rampant country of South Africa to engage in a “Service Vacation”.


The below article comes from the ‘Lean on Me’ February Newsletter. Lean on Me is the organization that 17 BTC volunteers worked with during the 2004 Service Vacation to South Africa.

On 14 December 2004, Lean on Me welcomed our first organized group of volunteers. 17 People from the American Be The Cause Organization joined us from the 14 – 23 December 2004. The group, who organizes local volunteer missions in their home country, was on their first international volunteer expedition. Lean on Me was honored to receive such an amazing group of people and thoroughly enjoyed their short time with us.

The BTC volunteers assisted our other volunteers and staff in hosting our numerous project Christmas parties all of which were a resounding success. Parties filled with presents, sweets and laughter were held at the following venues:

The Agape Children’s Orphanage
The Savannah Park Children’s Home
The Kulanikahle Children’s Centre ( Lindiwe’s project)
The Dream Centre
The Ikhayi Lobomi Hospice
The Siyajabula Children’s Home

Once again we would like to thank everyone who helped us to make these parties a success, the enormous smiles on the children and patient’s faces were enough to confirm that the time and effort was well worth it. Although we appreciate each and every donation, we would like to make special mention of the following people for their generous contributions:

*Emily Fess
*Sharlene Dubery & Colleagues
*The staff of ABSA Bank – Hillcrest Branch
*The staff of ABSA Bank – Kloof Branch
*Be the Cause Volunteers

With our project Christmas parties bringing a very festive end to 2004, Lean on Me is now looking ahead to the Busy and Exciting year of 2005.

For more information on Leon on Me visit:

Got Vacation? Raise AIDS Awareness and Volunteer

Hello All,

Below is an article that our friend Thoi Pham from the Bay Area wrote for her local journal. When asked why she was writing this piece, she replied that it was an opportunity to inspire service.

Title: Got Vacation? Raise AIDS Awareness and Volunteer
Subheading: Diverse SoCal group spends winter vacation serving in South Africa
By: Thoi Pham (IPG, DSCO, Commercial Operations)

If you had two weeks and could go anywhere in the world, what would you choose? Many of us might daydream about romantic, leisurely getaways at resort locations. On the other hand, 17 people from Southern California traveled to South Africa to offer hands and hearts in service. Their mission? Raise awareness about the AIDS crisis and poverty South Africa, and reach out to those affected.

These intrepid travelers are volunteers with Be The Cause (BTC), an Irvine-based nonprofit which allows volunteers to “be the cause” of positive change through service activities in their local community and abroad. These contribute to a more peaceful, compassionate world—where religious, ethnic and cultural diversity is not just accepted but welcomed.

BTC projects are as diverse as its membership (which includes Latino, Indian, Southeast Asian, Buddhist, Christian and Sikh volunteers). Some projects include the Walk For Hope, an annual fundraiser held on the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy; visits to “sacred sites” to gain appreciation for the world’s spiritual traditions; and an annual trip to a Third-World country to appreciate firsthand the serious challenges the inhabitants face. This South Africa trip is one such “service vacation,” and as with all trips, volunteers covered their own expense.

After a long, grueling flight from Los Angeles, BTC volunteers arrived in Cape Town with 34 suitcases of donated items and clothing, not including their own luggage. They were to spend the next two weeks visiting and working with local organizations.

Some highlights of BTC’s service activities include:
–Cleaning rooms, grounds and toilets at Camp Joy, a center for homeless street children in Cape Town.
–Wrapping presents for a Christmas party for children at Agape, an AIDS orphanage in Durban.
–Playing with children of HOKISA, one of the beneficiaries of the annual Walk For Hope.
–Clearing land, painting and erecting fence posts for the site of the new Siyajabula Children’s Home.
–Spending time with terminally ill patients at an AIDS hospital and hospice.
–Seeing Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years. Tour led by ex-prisoner.
–Visiting sites of slave markets in Cape Town.
–Swimming with penguins at Boulder Beach.

After two weeks of memorable experiences, most BTC volunteers flew home to the US. Three remained and went on to visit a hospital for women with AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya. They also administered a survey to gather valuable statistics about the disease as well as raise awareness.

One member Jason reflects on his experience: “In the end, I took so much more than I gave from South Africa. The people, hills and smiles will remain with me always….along with the hope for a better tomorrow for all people in the world and the desire to want to play a part in the solution.”

Now, all members are back in the US. BTC will soon give a workshop about their trip, an “Evening of Awareness” to share their South Africa and Kenya experiences with the local community, then mobilize volunteers to raise awareness locally by writing letters media and public officials. A previous Evening of Awareness raised money for organizations addressing the genocide and resultant humanitarian crisis that thousands now face in Sudan.

BTC is already planning their next Service Vacation, a trip to India

For firsthand reports from the travelers themselves, visit BTC blog at
For photographs visit

As we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission
To do the same.

– Nelson Mandela

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