Maggie's School & Getting Home Fund

Many of you know and are close friends with Maggie Hamre—someone who is exceptionally positive, vibrant, intelligent and passionate. 

Maggie has worked incredibly hard her entire life. As one of her close friends, I have observed her work ethic and persistence through all of life’s challenges. She constantly puts in time and effort to help and support others, and she is an inspiration to all as she embraces and explores her passions for bettering the world.

Maggie is currently studying abroad on SIT’s Multiculturalism and Human Rights program in Cape Town, South Africa, which entails 4 different homestays and intensive school days from 8:00am-5:30pm. Her passion for social justice motivated her to choose this SIT program. As a government major, Maggie was drawn to the realities of post-apartheid South Africa. She is passionate about social change and hopes to orient her career around fighting for racial equality, in particular incarceration reform in the US.

On Friday, September 29th, Maggie was on SIT’s final museum visit during a week-long excursion in Johannesburg. During this museum visit, all of her luggage and belongings were stolen from the trailer of the program's van. Theft has always been a huge problem in Johannesburg, and apparently recently this has increased, particularly in targeting tourists in vans with large trailers going to and from the airport. The SIT program did not express how urgent this problem has been until after their van was broken into.

SIT had removed the stolen/lost items insurance right before this semester and now claims to be unaccountable for this issue, despite the fact that the program was highly aware of the risk and failed to warn the students of its urgency. Moreover, each time the students traveled throughout the semester, their van had been watched by an armed guard or parked in a gated 24hr guarded lot. This time, the van and trailer were parked outside the museum—unwatched—and of course the students trusted that SIT would have told them to bring their luggage with them if there were concerns.

A few students were lucky and did not lose items because they left their backpacks in the actual van, but 15 students lost most items. Maggie is one of about 6 students who lost absolutely everything.

Her luggage represented years of hard work. Her bags contained medicine that she needs, her laptop, clothes, money, her passport/visa, school books and two years of Colby notes, dental retainer, chargers/adapters, jewelry, jackets and much more. It may not seem like a lot, but Maggie is in another country with just a purse that has her phone, wallet and headphones, leaving her with only these three items, as well as the clothes she was wearing, for the rest of her semester.

People who know Maggie know she has been through a lot. She really did not want to make a gofundme, but with SIT offering a wildly unhelpful $900 total (which would not even cover her laptop), she could use all of the help she can get right now. She was robbed of all her major investments, and although we are very lucky she and all the students are safe, she has had a lot of important things taken from her.

Additionally, Maggie walked out of the museum to the van a few minutes before the rest of the group and was the one to find the lock missing and personal belongings thrown everywhere. Along with many other issues that have arisen during her semester with SIT, the trauma from the event where armed men took all of her belongings and she was the first to find out has left Maggie with a total loss of sense of security and safety.

Maggie is currently working hard with Colby and SIT to receive the important credits from her courses, and intends to come home a month early. The last month involves independent study projects where the students have their own housing, which she was really looking forward to, but under the circumstances and considering the response by SIT, she wants to come home as soon as possible. She is planning to tough it out for a month and try to receive the class credits, obtain a temporary passport, then change her flight for home. The airline could also charge $200-500 for an itinerary change and SIT will definitely not cover that.

I am starting this campaign so that I can help the amazing Maggie at least recover her laptop so that she can continue her work, and so that she can receive any help while she works to replace her lost clothes, travel supplies, medicine, and textbooks she worked incredibly hard to obtain. Thank you for reading this post
  • Catherine Fraser 
    • $5 
    • 46 mos
  • Meg Forelli 
    • $15 
    • 46 mos
  • Kitty Elwyn 
    • $5 
    • 46 mos
  • Claire and Beth Caputi 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
  • Mankus Anderson  
    • $10 
    • 47 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Libby Smith 
Needham, MA
Margaret Hamre 
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