ABOUT THE TRIP
Greetings from South Africa! Our team arrived safe and sound on Wednesday July 27th, with the exception of Jason, whose flight got delayed and ended up arriving a day late, without luggage, after multiple connections. We were also sad to miss Dr. Becky, who had an unexpected shoulder injury the day before we left and was unable to make to the trip at the list minute.
On Thursday morning, the team met with Legacy Center with the staff there to hear an update on their programs and plan our time. Rape in Kayamandi is on the rise. It is currently estimated over 30% of the population has experienced at least one rape. One of the safe houses at Prochorus, providing immediate shelter for rape victims from 0-4 yrs old, was closed down due to lack of funds. The total costs to run it for the year is approximately 400,000 Rand or USD$62,000.
On Friday befreo the Purity Frist started, we were able to pick up food fro the Ikhaya Lempilo hospice food bank and deliver hand made teddy bears for their paitents.
The Purity First training went really well! We had about 34 teens and spend 2 ½ days with them. On the last day, each one shared their testimony from our time together. Several of the parents came and we shared a meal and cake together. The teens shared testimonies of learning about respect, the value of promise, of trusting others and how sharing your ‘secret’ can draw you closer to people and help them as well.
Monday we worked at Prochorus, one part of the team went to the crèches in the shacks and helped with the toddlers and another part painted one of the crèches. We love playing with the kids!!
We hosted a staff training for the Legacy Center on Tuesday and worked with them on their group values. The team recognized the importance of working together, using your voice and contributing and having difficult but necessary conversations with each other.
Wednesday and Thursday we hosted a training for adults in the community. We had 14 women show up – all of whom were excited for the opportunity to learn. One woman said “My prayer was that I could be involved in a training like this one day”. The woman experienced freedom, connection, clarity on their vision and deeper levels of community.
Wednesday we were also able to assist a local NGO called Serve the City in a neighboring township called Inkinini. We made 200 peanut butter and honey sandwiches and passed them out. We played games with the kids and got to know some of the people there. It was a great experience.
During our time here, we fed over 400 people, hosted 3 trainings, 2 after school programs, painted 3 day care shacks, and distributed teddy bears at the children’s hospital. It has been an incredible time!
Out of our fundraising money, we allocated $250 to each team member to sow however they saw fit during the time we were there. The team donated funds for 3 annual tuitions to be paid for the children of Kayamandi; sustainable garden at Prochorus for local people to grow their own vegetables, boots and gloves for women to work in garden, painting the bead shop container for local business; sowed into our translators for their school tuition, support the 14 women in our workshop for their family needs.
SOUTH AFRICA 2011 TESTEMONIES
This was my fifth trip to South Africa to serve in Kayamandi. I love seeing the changes both in the physical developments and the people that I enjoy year to year. The beauty of the culture, the song and dance, the way of community is a reminder to interrupt the ‘task oriented’ life I tend to live and enjoy the moment.
In working with the people, I am struck by how similar people are all over the world. Our fears, joys, insecurities, concerns are at many levels, the same. The exchange that takes place between what I share and what I receive from other people sharing is life giving.
I have had the honor of visiting and connecting to the spirit of Kayamandi four times. I imagine that those who know of Kayamandi yet have not been would assume that there is much that someone like me (i.e. financially privileged, well educated, etc.) could offer to such a community. Frankly, this was in part my motivation for making my first visit several years ago. I am grateful that in my arrogance God still allowed me to receive the blessings that Kayamandi had to offer me.
My perspective of “privilege” has shifted with my visits to Kayamandi. To me someone who is privileged used to mean someone that had circumstantial advantage over another. I now believe that privilege is a choice in attitude; an attitude that many whom are circumstantially “privileged” do not always experience. There is a joy that the people of Kayamandi share that is dependent of privileged circumstance. It is a joy and love that far transcends conditions and socioeconomic status. On every visit to Kayamandi I come face to face with the limiting terms I place on my ability to experience joy and privilege. Realizing that the things I often complain about and blame for limiting joy in my life are unneeded luxuries to many people. The people of Kayamandi do not place such terms on “privilege”. They do not depend on luxuries in order to experience what I believe to be a pure, organic, and holy joy. I am grateful to the Kayamandi Community for allowing me to share in their privilege!
“Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.” James 2:5
Volunteering in Kayamandi has opened my eyes to a whole new way of life. I have loved the opportunity to pour into this township and I feel that I have received much more than I have given. It has blessed me with a new appreciation for the blessings I have in my life.
Being at Kayamandi for the past week has opened my eyes and heart to a way of life that up until now I have not experienced. While I was there I played with toddlers in the crèches and saw faces starving for attention. The kids loved to play games and mostly just wanted to be noticed and hugged. I found myself dancing, singing silly songs, and laughing. My hope is that the kids will remember that they are worth playing with and that they will be reminded often. I have come away with a new appreciation for the importance of the role I as a man and father play.
Seeing the kids everyday have a smile on and not a whole lot to complain about is uplifting. It puts into perspective of how I live and how much I complain about the littlest of things. On the first day of our youth training, the kids really didn’t want to talk to me in our small groups. But by the end of the third day they were all smiling and talking and enjoying what we were here for. Seeing the transformation between the two is awesome and I hope they continue to transform into a bigger and better community!!!
This trip was unprecedented for me! I was privileged to work with adults as well as children. I want to start my testimony with 3 quotes:
- This is the most freedom I have ever felt.
- I have been waiting for a chance to go to one of these workshops like my children!
- I never saw myself as a leader before.
These 3 quotes are from women who participated in a 2 day workshop on community and leadership development. I wish I had a month to work with these exceptional women. Their stories were personally horrifying to me and yet I admired their willingness to continue exploring what else their lives could be about. In fact, I personally was inspired to examine my own lack of awareness of women’s issues where I live in Washington D.C. At the end of the two days Robb and I were blessed by many of the women taking time to share their thanks and gratitude. I was left feeling so full and complete that the principles of the Kingdom of God translate across culture, language and tribe.
During this trip I again had the opportunity to have a small group of teenagers during the Purity First Training we did with the teenagers. In addition to the girls in my group I had 2 interns at the Legacy Center where we were holding the workshop. Overall there was a great level of participation and the interns reported to me that the girls were still talking about the workshop after it was over.
The 2011 South Africa Trip was a diving appointment I feel for GYTS. We met and made connections with a whole new NGO “Serve the City”. We visited their start up project in a nearby township in South Africa and I am excited for future partnerships. I cannot say enough about the love that was given to us and the hope we shared and fought for with the people we served. For those of you who gave you can know with certainty that God used your sacrifice for love—like He always does!
Every trip to South Africa is unique and special in its own way. When I think about this trip I can’t help but be excited about the hope that I experienced. Unlike other times, I noticed a shift in the local community. It seems that the efforts of organizations like Prochorus and specifically my friend Nompi have really made a difference.
Nompi is an amazingly brave woman that works with Prochorus in the heart of Kayamandi. We met her on our first trip 4 years ago while she was translating for the first South Africa GAP and she had quite the transformation herself. Since then, each year we go back and get to spend a few days with her and enjoy her sweet presence. I am blown away by her dedication and love. She works tirelessly to provide support for the children and the women who are abandoned, hopeless, and hungry.
In the past year she created a garden through which women in the community can come and grow produce to support their families. Needless to say she is bringing her own transformation and sharing it with her adopted family. When we asked her how can we support her she told us about the need for “boots and gardening gloves to work in the garden” for the women that she directs. We love supporting her and the needs that she sees.
I saw a hope on this trip that was not experienced on the previous trips and it provides, for me, a certain re-assurance that the work that people like my friend Nompi do is not in vain. The community is changed for the better through Nompi and her peers. She provides me with inspiration and comfort just knowing her.
When I think about the last two weeks spent in South Africa, specifically Kayamandi, I experience sadness, hopelessness, and frustration yet somehow happiness, inspiration, and oddly enough, envy seem to top the list. Our time there was filled with people that are in great physical pain and have no resources to look to: people who are hungry and suffering from mal-nutrition and have no food to eat. Children, starved for attention, left to survive the day with no mothers and fathers to nurture them or even walk them to school at the risk of being raped or kidnapped. Although every form of complacency and poverty exists in this place, there are the warriors that throw themselves into this rancid soup every day to give it flavor and hope.
My life here at home is filled with idle complaints; those of which I heard nothing from the people that we served in Kayamandi. Am I eating enough vegetables per day? Did I eat enough protein? Did I gorge myself with food? They are happy merely filling their stomachs with food that offers no nutrition whatsoever. The long-term affects of which blow my mind. I brush my teeth and take a bath by turning a knob. I don’t have to travel ¼ mile to get water that is un-safe to drink. I get ready in the morning in 10-20 minutes and am delivered to my employer clean and fresh with warm coffee in hand. How could I do that if I lived where the bathrooms are un-safe or my household consisted of 5 or more people in an 8’x8’ corrugated shack with a dirt floor? Yet these amazing people don’t hesitate to give a greeting, a smile or part of their plate to make your day better or create a lasting impression.
In the middle of all this, there are organizations to turn to like The Legacy Center, which offers pre-school and safe after school programs where the children can go and play. Or Prochorus, which aptly named, means a build, channel or transitional bridge. Prochorus offers many different services like help with educational funding, rape crisis counseling, life skills, clothes or just a person to talk to amongst other things. The people that work here are tireless, patient and dedicated. They see the human side of things and the enormous hearts of people in need when most everyone else is happy to turn a blind eye and ignore them.
I am thankful that my blind eye was opened to what I take for granted every day. I hope that the compassion that I feel so strongly now won’t fizzle back into my life of abundance. And I hope that God will show me the way in which I might help increase the inner strength of these people, to help them feel as optimistic about their lives as I do.