IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
By Morgan Scott, Allen Eagles Competitive Shooting Team (Allen, TX)
Philosophically, all men may be created equal. And in reality, it certainly starts out that way. After all, we’re all born helpless and need food and shelter. Our parents provided that for most of us and if you’re reading this, your parents probably go way beyond the basics for you such as providing guns, ammo, shooting lessons, travel, and education. But not everyone has parents and not all parents are able to go above and beyond the way that mine and yours do.
We’ve all heard the pitch about starving kids in Africa before. And, yes. We’re all thankful. But, it didn’t really hit home for me until my SCTP Coach Jason Anderson took some of us to South Africa last fall to see wild game and visit an orphanage. The game ranch we stayed at, HuntSA.com, was fascinating. They rolled out the red carpet for us.
Seeing Africa and the fauna and flora first hand is nothing at all like watching it on TV. Our guide, Etienne, bent over backwards to show us around and taught us many things. We enjoyed a “braai vleis” or South African barbecue. Tried biltong (pronounced bull tongue) which is their version of jerky. We played with the pet warthog named “Bacon,” chased springhaas at night. And, we even saw lions up close in the wild from an open vehicle. (Fortunately, they were more interested in stalking an impala.) It was all part of our African experience and we participated in everything. Well… almost everything. Coach Anderson kind of chickened out of the dung spitting contest. But hey, I figured… when in Rome!
I even got to stalk and harvest an impala! It was nothing at all like sitting in a deer blind. We hiked, tracked, and stalked for miles and miles over rocky, hilly, rough terrain. Several times we were close, but the wind shifted, and they bolted. But, we persisted with determination… like hunting down that second shot on station 4 skeet doubles on a windy day.
But Rufus Luttig, not only owns a game ranch, he uses the proceeds and meat to feed and fund a program called Village South Africa (villagesouthafrica.com) whose primary purpose is to support the Jehova Jireh Haven Orphanage near Alexandria in the Eastern Cape. Visiting the orphanage was pretty much the highlight of our trip. It was truly an eye opener to meet the kids and hear the stories about the struggles they had endured before being taken in and given food, shelter, and education. Many had lived on the streets having to fend for themselves. They had to be taught that dogs and goats weren’t just your next meal. They could be kept as pets. ..that goats could provide milk and chickens could be kept around to lay eggs.
Most of all, these were not faces on a late-night TV commercial. They were (ARE) real people with names and heartbeats. Who were born just as equal as you and I. But, didn’t get the same kind of support growing up as you and I. But fortunately for them, there are people such as Rufus Luttig at HuntSA.com and Molly and Neels Bam who opened up their home to start the orphanage over 15 years ago.
Prior to our trip, we began collecting donations of supplies and such at our school and at one of our Texas SCTP tournaments and I’m proud to say that our shooting community is very generous. The kids at the orphanage were amazingly overjoyed when we brought them a couple of 100-pound suitcases full of school supplies and a truck load of meat from the ranch. You would have thought that they had each been given a Perazzi or Krieghoff shotgun for Christmas.
We were so moved by the experience that when we settled back in at home we got to thinking about what more we could do? We all benefit from assistance from others. Look at how many volunteers it takes to run SCTP. Think about how much the Potterfields and MidwayUSA Foundation have given to us. So, we had the idea of getting Texas SCTP to “adopt” and start sponsoring the orphanage. Thanks to all of the volunteers, our shoots barely cost more than the targets anyways. So, at our Easter League Shoot we collected a few extra dollars and donations. It all adds up and by the end of the weekend, we had raised another $3,500 for Village South Africa!
They were so very appreciative of the donations and asked that we thank everyone from SCTP for their support. It’s such a great feeling to give back that I wanted to share our experience and challenge every SCTP League or Team to do something this year to raise a little money for Village South Africa or for any other charity. It’s a great feeling that you’ll never forget. I can honestly say that it’s just as rewarding as standing on the podium at nationals with a gold medal or making the All-American team. Neither of which I would have ever accomplished without lots of help from others.