Sindisiwe is a Hands at Work monitoring and evaluation officer based at the Hub in South Africa. Sindi's birthday falls on 22 June and last year she discovered that then six-year-old Banele, in the care of Hands at Work partner organisation Siyathuthuka,* shares her birthday. So, as an act of kindness, she had sent Banele a small gift.
This year, determined to meet him, she bought him a set of clothes that she planned to take to him on 'their' birthday. Little did she know that Banele had told his gogo (granny) that he would like a cake to celebrate his birthday.
On Wednesday, the double-birthday day, two long-term Canadian volunteers with Hands at Work, Lise and Jon, drove to collect Sindi from the Hub to take her to Siyathuthuka. The Hub utilizes office space on the Africa School of Missions property and when Lise and Jon pulled up, they met a group of students who had been waiting for a minibus taxi. They were headed in the same direction as the Hands at Work crew.
The five of them piled in – along with Sindi – and they were off. When the students were dropped off, they insisted on contributing 50 Rands to the fuel cost. With this, Sindi could buy a birthday cake, candles and other birthday food.
At the Siyathuthuka centre, Sindi learned that Banele’s care worker wasn't in. Undeterred, she found out that the care worker lived next to Sitho, an orphan whom Jon had stayed with for a weekend. The group set off to go see Sitho. Sitho was in, the care worker, next door, was at home and she agreed to take everyone to Banele’s home. "How many coincidences had God used to bring this all together!" Sindi said.
When the group got to Banele and his gogo's home, Sindi sent for other care workers and friends to join the birthday party. She gave Banele a quick bath and dressed him in his brand-new outfit. His gogo produced chairs and a table. As neighbouring children gathered for the party, the food was spread out with the birthday cake in the centre. Candles were lit – and blown out! And Sindi and Banele cut the cake together.
The kindness of one Hands volunteer and the gracious hand of our loving Father told one seven-year old boy that he was known by name, that he was special and that God answers the prayers of His children. "I think Banele will remember his seventh birthday for the rest of his life," Jon said. "I thank God for being able to witness this story."
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
- Romans 10v15
*Siyathuthuka, meaning Progressing, is one of five community-based organisations supported by Hands at Work in the Clau-Clau area in north-eastern South Africa. Hands at Work is active in two other areas in South Africa and in seven other sub-Saharan Africa countries. Hands at Work strives to reach the poorest of poor pockets in Africa to reach children who would, otherwise, have no hope.
Siyathuthuka care workers are volunteers who come from impoverished backgrounds themselves, but with the determination to see their communities transformed. They visit the children daily in their homes. Each child is known by name.