Today marks my first 12 months of living in Africa! 🙂
To celebrate I want to share with you 12 people who have significantly impacted my life this past year (and there are many more people I could have chosen…!).
February 2013: Thembi
Thembi, my sesi and the Co-ordinator of our Community Based organisation in one of our communities called Welverdiend. I had the privilege of staying with her and her family for my first community stay during Orientation and keep visiting. Thembi continually challenges and inspires me by her continual faithful and unwavering service and genuine love for the kids in her community.
March 2013: Mandras
I met Mandras on one of my first home visits in Malawi. It was the first time my heart literally broke for a child on a home visit when I saw the squalid conditions he was living in. It was the first time I genuinely wanted to rescue a child out of their home situation. I am so thankful for his care worker Henry who visits Mandras almost every day and cares for him as his own child.
April 2013: Grace
We were on a home visit in Malawi and as was the case, when I sat down I would be immediately surrounded by a whole bunch of children. I then felt my arm being poked and the sleeve of my shirt being lifted – this little girl was so curious about the colour of my skin! I lifted her into my lap and she cuddled close. She stole a little piece of my heart that day.
May 2013: Sesi Audrey
Audrey leads our Service Centre that supports all of our Community Based Organisations here in South Africa. I love that she is passionate and will stand up and fight for what she believes in- that is the orphan and vulnerable children in our communities. Its an absolute honour to know her and work alongside her (and we have had fun times also travelling to Swaziland and Zimbabwe together!)
June 2013: Baba Vusi
Baba Vusi heads up our work in Swaziland, you cannot walk down a street in Swaziland without running into someone who knows him. He is quiet and unassuming but has the biggest heart for the children of Swaziland. When asked if he was given R100,000 (Approx. $10,000) and could spend it on anything he would like, what would he do? His immediate and genuine response – to build a care centre and collect all the orphans to come and live in it. His selflessness and HUGE heart blows me away and convicts me constantly.
July 2013: Nokubongo and Malibongwe
My Swazi Kids. Two little rascals in Swaziland who climbed into my lap and my into heart. They stay with a very elderly Gogo who struggles greatly to care for them, but their cheeky little smiles hide these daily struggles they face.
August 2013: Gogo’s
This month is dedicated to all the Gogo’s (grandmothers) in all the countries I have walked, who are old and frail and whose kids have grown; who should in their old age be able to relax and live their older years in peace. However through many tragic circumstances are now caring often for many grandchildren with no income, no food, no means to provide. In the midst of such struggle and lack I have seen the deepest joy, generosity and faith in God. I want to be like that when I grow up.
September 2013: Malawi Service Centre Team
I was honoured to spend a month on the ground in Malawi with this incredible team that tirelessly serves some of the most vulnerable kids in Malawi. Each and everyone of them sacrifices so much to care for these kids. They are my heroes!
October 2013: Yaya Barbra, my Zimbabwe Sister
One of the outstanding members of our Service Centre team in Zimbabwe who I have the privilege of working alongside on a daily basis and who marvelously hosted me in her home when I stayed in Zimbabwe (and continually corrects me when I get my Shona wrong! ;-))
November 2013: Sithelo
In the slums of Sakubva, Zimbabwe on a very hot spring day, we did a home visit with Sithelo, a 28yr old mother of 4 boys who struggles to find piece work to daily feed her children and is on the verge of being kicked out of the tiny shack she stays in as she struggles to find the money to pay rent. And yet in the midst of what seemed to me to be a totally hopeless situation her favourite song is “You are faithful oh God”. If I was faced with the same situation, I’m not sure I could or would be able to sing that song with true conviction and yet she did. My heart was broken, challenged and inspired. I have to believe my God is big enough and faithful enough to move in her life and situation.
December 2013: A care worker and child in Mozambique
We received news in November of a community in Mozambique we were looking to start working in – that children would literally die of starvation in the couple of months across the Christmas period (‘Hunger season’) if we didn’t start feeding. Long story short but we were able to make a plan and commence emergency feeding mid-December through the Care Workers on the ground to 30 of the most vulnerable children. The smiles on this Child’s face and the face of the Care Worker says it all. It was the BEST way to end the year and the BEST Christmas gift to be involved in being able to give such a gift to these children and care workers.
January 2014: The whole Hands at Work family
In January this year key leadership and team members from across South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe all came together to kick off the year and to meet together to set the strategy and direction for the year. This is the amazing team and family I get the privilege of being a part of living and working alongside each day to serve Africa’s most vulnerable children. I could tell a story of each person in this photo and how they have impacted me (but that would make for a very long blog post 😉 Needless to say, I love doing life with all these people – such an honour! And love living in such a multicultural community!