Finding hope in little acts: TPG’s journey to the South Africa PeaceJam conference

Oct 23, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Don’t sit back and expect somebody to solve the world’s problems for us.

We can’t all be full-time activists, but there are steps each of us can take to improve society.

That was the message — dare I say challenge — I heard in South Africa last weekend from 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to make the world a better place in their own unique way,” Williams told 300 young people who had gathered in Cape Town. She and a delegation from TPG had come to South Africa to help spread a message of hope and peace at the PeaceJam youth leadership conference.

Cape Town is a city filled with natural beauty. There are spectacular mountains, beaches and some of the friendliest people around. Add in some amazing dining, and it should be on any tourist’s must-see list.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

But South Africa is also struggling in some communities with crime, gangs, persistent racism and a wealth gap that has lasted long after the end of apartheid in 1994. Sexual violence and rape happen at alarmingly high levels, some of the worst in the world.

That’s where PeaceJam and its message of hope and self-empowerment come in.

PeaceJam is a nonprofit organization that TPG has been working with since 2014. Its mission is to foster young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world.

The organization helps inspire them with messages from Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as Desmond Tutu and Leymah Gbowee, and use their spirit, skills, and wisdom to help create educational programming for youth around the world.

Jody Williams was the laureate picked to participate in this year’s South Africa jam. Williams is a no-nonsense activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work toward banning and clearing land mines around the world.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Many of the 300 kids gathered for the jam were already leaders in their communities seeking advice on how to move forward. Williams wouldn’t offer pat solutions but instead gently pushed the young activists to find their own path.

“What you do at the end of the day (is) think about yourself, be happy” she told them. Ask: “The work I do, how does this have a tiny bit of good to help the world and all of us?”

TPG’s mission is to empower people to travel the world smarter and cheaper. Through their travels, we hope that people will become more knowledgeable about the world and more tolerant of people’s differences.

But that isn’t enough. Our founder and CEO, Brian Kelly, preaches that every successful business needs to give back to the community. That’s why each year, TPG funds PeaceJam’s programming in East Timor, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia and South Africa — and our staff members volunteer at those events.

“The more we travel, the more we meet people and the more we realize we are all the same,” Kelly told the crowd at one PeaceJam lecture. “How do we travel more responsibly, learn more about places?”

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Last year, TPG also started to sponsor a small group of student fellows by covering their college tuition. Three of these young women were at the South Africa PeaceJam. Two plan to become teachers and one is studying hospitality and culinary skills.

This was my first trip with PeaceJam and my first time in South Africa. I was simply overwhelmed.

At one point in an emotional, yet inspiring, ceremony, several of the students in attendance stood up before the crowd and shared their stories. The message was: “You are not alone.”

One young girl spoke of having to leave a prestigious high school she had fought her way into because she needed to work an extra job. Several girls shared horrific tales of family members who molested or raped them or gang members who beat up their siblings. Others in the auditorium wept as they privately relived their own traumas through these stories.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

You might expect this would have left me upset and afraid for what our world has become. But although their stories were troubling, what really impressed me was how the young people found strength in each other. Teens who have seen more trauma in a week than most of us will see in our lives were still optimistic and energized for change.

They believe that they can make a difference. And it’s our job to tap into that passion and energy and help guide them.

For me, the journey was a realization that little things do matter. I’ve become consumed at age 41 with my family and work. I want to give back, but often feel helpless. The problems are so big and my time so short.

Yet that shouldn’t stop me. Even little actions can make a big difference.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Teaching 300 teenagers in South Africa about peace isn’t going to change the world. But these young people met each other for the first time last Friday. By Sunday morning, they were singing and dancing together like the best of friends.

If each of them can affect somebody else, and that person help change a third one, and so on, then change on a large scale starts to happen.

That’s the beauty of PeaceJam.

In 2018 alone, TPG’s sponsorship of the PeaceJam program affected the lives of more than 11,000 teenagers in five developing countries (stay tuned for our upcoming trip to Liberia). TPG has donated more than $400,000 to support PeaceJam and the Nobel laureates’ work with youth.

Join the effort by making a donation here.

To learn more about the PeaceJam organization, check out this video, follow them on social media at @PeaceJam or follow the hashtag #PeaceJam.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.