People often ask how Universal Promise came to be: why this country, this community, these schools? It wasn't planned. It started as a 50th birthday celebration in South Africa, and the intention was to go on a safari in the Addo Elephant National Park and then tour the country. But then I met Moses.

He was my waiter at the safari game lodge, and I felt an immediate connection. I had never met anyone so gracious, so open-hearted. I asked Moses for assistance with basic Xhosa. He translated for me and even praised my attempts at forming the linguistic clicks. Soon other staff surrounded us, reacting with disbelief and hilarity as the lesson continued. I went back to my room that night to practice, a lot, so when I arrived at breakfast the next day with enkosi, molo, and other local terms rolling off my tongue, their stunned faces were priceless. Before long, I asked Moses if he would escort me to his township. As a lifelong educator, I needed to view the extent to which apartheid still infected schools and society. He ran to ask Marius, the manager, who could not have known that his permission would give birth to Universal Promise.

We all know some things in life cannot be understood until we face them ourselves: the death of a parent, the birth of a child. The chasm between anticipation and reality is as great as the chasm between a raindrop and a hurricane. For that reason, I can't convey what I saw that day. Suffice it to say, though, that it was shocking enough yet changeable enough that a trip in celebration of my first 50 years turned into a trip that will last forever. 

Thank you for visiting our site. We hope to hear from you soon.

Martha T. Cummings
President