When Schreiber High School student Josh Roth was 13 years old and approaching his bar mitzvah, his parents asked him how he wanted to celebrate this important milestone. It was then that Roth decided he wanted to take a trip to South Africa to learn about how people from other countries lived. The Roth family spent a year mapping out their African travel experience, ultimately visiting three countries—Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. During their last stop, the Roth’s visited a small township in Cape Town known as Khayelitsha—it was here that Roth saw the true poverty that existed in the world.
“I will never forget what I witnessed in this township,” Roth said. “There were thousands of homes that were practically on top of each other, built of broken materials and scraps. I had so many questions. I wanted to know everything. How did these residents live? Where did they eat? Where did the children go to school? Did they have jobs? Did they have doctors to care for the sick? I was curious about it all. I learned that anywhere from four to eight people live in these makeshift homes. They also share a community toilet hole with several other people in the community. Jobs were scarce and food was hard to come by. They didn’t have affordable access to basic healthcare and necessities. This did not seem fair to me. People across the entire world should have access to the same opportunities that most, including myself, take for granted.”
It was then that Roth decided he wanted to help others and so the charitable foundation, Love S.A. was born. Creating a charitable foundation that focuses on helping another country was very challenging, Roth explained. He ran into some difficulties including registering to become a nonprofit organization, building new connections with local South African people and determining the logistics for how the money could be transferred. In total, the process took about three years.
“Although the journey was a difficult one, my main focus has always been to make a change,” Roth, now 16 years old, said. “No matter how tough and impossible objectives were, I always thought of the children and families. However, I did not want this change to simply be a handout that doesn’t benefit locals in the long term. All of these children and families deserve the same opportunity we have, which is why Love S.A.’s mission focuses on growing rather than giving. Love S.A. provides a helping hand to those in need, rather than simply giving them handouts.”
Since the soft launch in July 2021, Roth’s charitable foundation has raised numerous donations in all the categories listed on their website, with 100 percent of all contributions going directly to Love S.A.’s mission.
“Since Love S.A.’s recent launch, we have been able to raise a considerable amount of money for South African children and families,” Roth said. “In such a short time, we have been able to raise money for school uniforms for many of the African township children. We’ve raised money to provide financial assistance for certain children whose families cannot afford to send their children to school. We’ve also raised money for the teachers and support staff at the schools to help provide more resources. In addition, we have raised money for all of the different food groups, which have benefited and will continue to benefit many families in need.”
The creation of the nonprofit has been hard at times, but Roth stated that helping those in need has been the most meaningful to him.
“Love S.A. has taught me things about myself, the world and the importance of helping others,” he said. “I have spent so much time developing the foundation in order for it to be an extremely useful enterprise in aiding many children and families’ lives. From thinking of this idea on the plane ride home from Africa, to clicking the launch button on the website, I have witnessed the most spectacular thing that has ever come into my life. My dream became a reality, and I am proud of every step I took along the way. Sadly, our world contains a lot of hatred and division which harms the younger generations tremendously. People tend to focus on keeping to themselves, or their inner-circles. However, we are all connected in a way. We are all human. We as a society need to do a better job in helping our fellow neighbors through good deeds. If I am able to do my small part in this regard through Love S.A., then it will all be worth it.”
The pandemic has also brought many hardships to the children and families in South Africa; with tourism drastically depleting over the past 18 months due to COVID, many are struggling.
“I’m learning that raising money is no easy task, whether it’s during COVID or during any other time,” Roth said. “It’s difficult. People need to rightfully believe in a cause before they are willing to open up their wallets and pocketbooks. In this regard, nothing has changed. However, the children and families in Africa continue to face educational and economic hardships. It is more important than ever to help the children and families there.”
Roth hopes that with the support of individuals, institutions and companies, Love S.A. will be a meaningful and long-lasting endeavor.
“I want to continue to help bring awareness to Love S.A. and, importantly, to the plight of the children and families in the African townships, with the aim of encouraging people who may come from vastly different cultures to recognize that we are more alike than different,” Roth said. He hopes that through partnerships, corporate sponsorships, publicity and contributions, he will be able to continue his mission.
To learn more about the foundation’s mission and Roth’s personal story, visit www.lovesafoundation.org. To keep up with Roth’s charitable foundation follow their Instagram: @lovesafoundation or Facebook: Love S.A. Foundation. For questions or additional information, contact email@example.com.