Imagine a world where everyone had a passion to help others. Reality proves this to be not possible but thankfully we are surrounded by special people who go the extra mile and have that deep down desire to do good in this life. They push on with very little backing them but somehow manage to achieve the dreams that they live and breathe.
Caz Holmes is one of these very special people.
The Founder of Go Beyond All Borders, a not-for-profit organisation that runs trips with the sole purpose to improve the lives of orphaned children. We convinced Caz to open up about this cause that is very close to her heart (often, as in her case, these generous types HATE talking about themselves) and tell us more about how and why she does what she so beautifully does.
Meet my dear friend Caz Holmes…
Leigh: GBAB, ‘Go Beyond All Borders’ is an amazing cause, founded by you, making a real difference in the lives of orphans and people in need. Tell us a little bit about why you created GBAB? What drove you to help children?
Caz Holmes: I think life sometimes brings you to a cross road of choices and ideas all stemming from the highs and lows that this world throws at us. It’s then up to us what we do with what we’ve been through. After the death of my 11 week old baby girl Courtney Lee from SIDS, as you can imagine, my world was turned upside down. The night she died, I remember bathing her and looking into her gorgeous brown eyes as she giggled at me for the first time wondering how is it possible to love something so much. Unbeknown to me she would be leaving this Earth for a far better place that very night. I believe that it was at this time that something changed in me. My heart was broken so why not use it to love those in this world who also suffer from broken hearts. For me, this love was directed to orphan and needy children. Every child on Earth should know what it feels like to be loved and cared for. I realised this when I couldn’t even watch a World Vision add without crying. So I started on a journey of exploring if there was anything I could do to help these venerable, impoverished orphan children. I’m not a doctor, nurse, politician or Angela Jolie, but I took a step into what I believe God was calling me to do and, in the process, He has healed my heart as I have reached out to these amazing children.
LV: You run two trips a year focussing on caring for and serving the lives of underprivileged & orphaned children. Where do you travel to?
CH: GBAB takes mission/exposure trips to local orphanages and a foster care home called Baan Op Un in Chiang Mai, Thailand and to Huruma Children’s Home in Ngong Hills in Nairobi Kenya. Our trips focus on respecting local ways, culture and supporting self-sustainable projects while doing our best to add to, and boost, the economy by purchasing from local markets and businesses.
LV: As a mother yourself, do you find it hard leaving the children that you meet on your trips?
CH: When I first started going to the orphanages, I thought we had all the answers and that the best thing for these poor orphan children would be for me to bring them all home to live in our very rich western culture. It didn’t take long for me to realise that our ways aren’t always the right ways. Having an abundance of material things doesn’t bring joy, happiness, fulfilment, resilience or build character like I see in these kids. Now, I want to take our kids over there to see the deep love, joy, gladness and life in each one of the orphan children. The joy is almost tangible, I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it apart from when I’m with these children. I wish I could bottle it up and bring it home.
LV: You must have some amazing stories of joy and heartache. Can you share an experience with us that really impacted your heart?
CH: I have so many stories but the one that stands out is of a little orphan boy named Karwick who I met on a reconnaissance trip to an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was a lively, fun loving 6 year old who was HIV positive. As much as Karwick wanted to run around outside and play with all the other children, he was unable to due to yet another bout of pneumonia that was slowly making his body more and more frail with each passing day. I sat and played with Karwick as he coughed and struggled with the energy just to do a jigsaw puzzle. He was connected to an oxygen tank to help him breathe but still managed to smile and give a little bit of cheek.
I discovered from the staff at the orphanage that Karwick wouldn’t have been in this situation and be as sick as he was if they could have afforded the medicine they needed to help him.
I came straight home to Australia and through our church, and some very generous people, raised the funds to get Karwick his medicine. Unfortunately, it was too late for the medicine to have any effect and Karwick’s very tired, damaged lungs couldn’t cope any longer and he died at the end of 2008. I was devastated that the only reason this little boy didn’t survive was because of a lack of readily available finances for the children of the orphanage. GBAB now has a relief fund that we try to keep topped up so if ever we hear about situations like Karwick’s we can respond straight away to the orphanages we support.
LV: Another amazing achievement of yours is the ‘Adopt-a-Basket’ initiative. How do you manage to orchestrate that? What goes into them and how do you distribute them?
CH: Adopt-a-Basket was initiated in December of 2008, when GBAB delivered 8 baskets to families in need on the Mornington Peninsula through the welfare departments of schools. It was an idea for people to ‘adopt the basket’ take it home and fill it with non perishable food items and a few Christmas goodies over the course of a couple of months. We then collect the baskets, wrap them in cellophane with a Christmas ribbon and deliver them. Every Christmas since, Adopt-a-Basket has continued to grow and we have been able to bless many local families. Last year (2015) was our biggest year yet, as we delivered over 525 baskets locally and internationally. We also delivered 10 $300 Woolworths vouchers to struggling families.
3 years ago we launched ‘Adopt-a-Basket Kenya.’ For a small donation of $50, we provide essential food items, toothbrushes and some Christmas treats to families living in extreme poverty in the Ngong slums. All international baskets and food items are sourced and purchased from markets and businesses within the Ngong area which helps to invest back the struggling local economy.
LV: How has running GBAB changed your life?
CH: I read a quote once that I use often that says, “Once I have seen, I am responsible.” All of us have seen, whether it’s on tv, in our cities or on the internet. We know what the needs of the world are. We can sit back and wait for someone to do something about it, or we can be a part of the change we wish to see. I have a strong belief that if everyone just did what he or she can to make a difference in the life of someone in need, the world would be a much better place.
GBAB has changed my life because I try to live this out everyday. My husband and I currently live off one wage which releases me to invest my time into doing the best I can to make a difference in the lives of orphan and needy children and to take others on the journey of discovery towards how they to may be able to help.
LV: How can Mama Love readers get involved if they want to help?
CH: We are always on the lookout for people with compassionate hearts who are willing, able and interested in travelling to these orphanages in Thailand and Kenya to serve on a GBAB exposure mission trip. For more info email Caz: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can fill an ‘Adopt-a-Basket’ or purchase one for Kenyan families by either sending an email, or liking the GBAB Go Beyond all Borders & Adopt a Basket Facebook Pages.
There is also the opportunity to sponsor children at the orphanages we support or simply make a donation to Go Beyond All Borders.
Margaret Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
I’m just one of many crazy people who actually believe without a doubt, that this is possible.