By Patricia Sellers
On the road in South Africa. Literally. We’re in the bus that Silicon Valley lawyer Kathi Lutton and Google (GOOG) execs Susan Wojcicki and Megan Smith fund-raised to buy for Susan Rammekwa, the amazing woman who shadowed them last year through the Fortune-U.S. State Department Mentoring Partnership. Susan Rammekwa runs an orphanage in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg. And thanks to the generous Silicon Valley women, Susan now has a vehicle to transport 249 kids, age 3 to 19, who are enrolled in her Tshepang Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.
You might call our 15-hour bus ride from Roodepoort, where we stayed at the charming Pekwa Lodge, to Cape Town, where the Fortune Global Forum begins tomorrow evening, a journey of generosity. Some of the other women in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women community have contributed actual road-trip gear. We’ve got a big bag of SmartWool socks from Solera Capital CEO Molly Ashby, who also mentors in the Fortune-State Department program. We’ve got SHEEX sleep sacks — full-body sleeves for shut-eye — from Michelle Marciniak and Susan Walvius, who last year were selected as Fortune MPWomen Entrepreneurs. They also sent dozens of pillows, with SHEEX pillow cases, for the orphans.
Google, meanwhile, is tracking our journey on Google Earth — very cool and read for public viewing soon. Xerox (XRX) CMO Christa Carone, another MPWomen mentor, helped us find a vendor in Cape Town, Asset Print, to make a big magnetic sign for the bus in order to spotlight the orphanage and urge people to help the kids. After spending three days at Tshepang and seeing how happy — how positively joyful and hopeful — these children are, Kathi Lutton, who is global head of litigation at Fish & Richardson law firm, and I decided we had to get a sign for the bus. We’ll figure out later how we’re going to pay for it.
As they say, Don’t ask for permission. Seek forgiveness.
Our other travel companions are Susan’s husband, Shedrick, who is driving the bus, and a renowned photographer named Asa Muthat. After Asa was hired to do a magazine shoot about breast survivors two years ago, he decided to use his lens to champion the cancer cause. He created a photography and media project called The Big Pink Ribbon to unite breast-cancer survivors globally — and yesterday at the orphanage helped gather 60 local women who learned about cancer prevention and were offered breast ultrasounds. For many of these women, this was the first breast exam they ever had.
And at the end of that memorable day at the orphanage, we went to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp. Nice having superb photographers, Asa and Kathi too, along for the ride…