In 2008, Vanessa lived and volunteered in an orphanage in Khayelitsha, South Africa, for month. One day, exploring the slum, Vanessa stopped by a school where children were studying in partly flooded containers. She contacted her family and friends and collected $1,000 which helped to completely remodel all of the containers in a week. Vanessa realized that with little donations, big changes could happen. In 2009, Austin2Africa was born. In 7 months, the team fundraised $12,000+ to build an orphanage in Nyanga, South Africa, for orphans with AIDS.