Small Things Can Make a Big Difference

by isvolunteers on Friday, 27 March 2015

Trys Eddy served as an ISV Tour Leader from 2008-2013 , leading thousands of ISV participants on tour throughout Australia and Africa . I found an old email from him recently and knew it was a story worth sharing based on one of his most cherished memories whilst working with International Student Volunteers.

From Trys:

volunteer in africa

Trys Eddie leading an ISV Tour! (c) Trys Eddie

“I love shopping in Africa, and more to the point I love taking ISV participants into a unique shopping environment. It’s so far out of their comfort zone – being dragged from shop to shop, haggling and almost always walking away with something that they didn’t want. It’s a great experience, and one to be challenged rather than afraid of!

Mozambique is the most memorable place I have ever been shopping. Dozens of underprivileged children in Tofo sit on the beach all day making bracelets and anklets varying from simple shells strung together to very complex weaving.  Every time I visited I would buy one off each child, with the hope that each one would receive a small amount of income. I would leave after each tour with about 30 new bracelets! Purchasing these small trinkets meant that these kids could go to school and eat a meal, this sounds rather far fetched to us as we open the fridge to grab a can of coke, but the reality is that these particular children didn’t have any other options. They were working from the age of 4, doing anything they could do, or simply go hungry.

hand made bracelets in africa

Trys’ collection of bracelets made by many underprivileged children of Tofo (c) Trys Eddie

It all seems very dark but there is a bright ray of sunshine here. The beauty of it was that they were also paying for their own education out of what they earned and were trying in every way they could, by their own efforts, to rise above their blight. There was no overseer who took their profits, there was no disharmony between children to get sales, it was children teaching children a very basic task to earn money to live. Because of this I would also encourage ISV participants to buy them as well, and by the end of the season I had about 80 of them.

A few months later I was wearing one of these anklets in Jeffreys Bay, whilst talking to an old hippy that lives in a tent at Island Vibe. We were watching the sun come up, which is always a spectacular sight in Africa, when at one stage he turned and looked at my ankle and said “Trys, I don’t remember making that anklet for you”, to which I replied “you didn’t, I got it from some kids in Mozambique”. He got rather curious and asked “do you mean the beach kids in Tofo?” to which I replied, “yeah, there were dozens of them, they all make these and sell them on the beach. What they earn basically pays for their food, schooling and stuff they otherwise wouldn’t have growing up”. He looked out at the ocean and the smallest hint of a smile came to his face and said “7 years ago I went to Tofo and taught three children how to make them”.

volunteer in africa

The impact a simple bracelet has made to the lives of so many underprivileged children is truly incredible (c) Trys Eddie

The smallest act, by a truly inspiring man with such a simple idea has meant that HUNDREDS of kids have eaten every day, have paid to get to school every day, and lived a life that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to, whilst supporting their families in a deeply disadvantaged country.

I have been giving these bracelets away to friends and fellow travelers for years, with the provision that anyone who asks about them must be told the story about ‘how the smallest things can make the biggest differences in the lives of others’.

What you see in these photos is what I still wear everyday, (in fact they simply don’t come off,) 2 years later, to remind me on a daily basis to not take things for granted, to appreciate what I have and above all ‘that the smallest things can make the biggest difference.”

Jeffrey's Bay

This magnificent image of Jeffrey’s Bay was taken by Trys himself – see more of his work on Facebook and Instagram. (c) Trys Eddie

Thanks Trys, you’re a legend!

By the way, Trys is a talented photographer. You can check out his Facebook page of follow him on Instagram.

ISV is full of talented people like Trys. To find out how to join ISV’s team or participate on an ISV program, please visit our website.

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