With the help of our advocates across the world, many efforts have been made to respond to the widespread drought crisis across Southern Africa. Individuals from our International countries have come together to pray, advocate, raise awareness and fundraise to help bring relief to the most vulnerable communities. We celebrate the work that God is doing in uniting His church across the world to bring hope to the hopeless.
A 10-member team from Locks Heath Free Church in the United Kingdom recently returned home after a two-week stay in our South Africa offices. The group represented their church, which has been supporting a community in Belfast, South Africa for four years. They visited the community to see first-hand who their support and prayers were affecting, to encourage the care workers who volunteer there, and to gain a new perspective from the other side of the world.
“During our time there we met the volunteer care workers from the local church and the orphaned children who will benefit from the funds raised here. We joined the care workers in their daily visits to the vulnerable people in the community and quickly grew to admire and respect their commitment.”
Prior to leaving the UK, the team organized a fundraiser to benefit Hands at Work. They staged a ‘free throw’ basketball contest with a goal of making 3000 baskets over the course of eight consecutive hours. The event was successful, as 3002 baskets were made, in addition to a total of £735 donated to support Hands at Work. Upon reflecting on their experience in South Africa, and visiting the community they were supporting, Sharon, a member of the team, felt that the things they had seen and felt in their hearts would leave a lasting impact on their lives.
“There is so much that I want to take back with me. We went out [to Belfast] on Monday, and we came across this little girl named California. This little girl was so precious, like a diamond. She really shouldn’t be alive and she sang to us. Her hurt and her pain was in her singing, but she was singing that she was only bearing the pain that God had carried and that He had gone to the cross so that she could be saved. She was such a thoughtful person to meet, and God has given her life. I will take that memory back among many other things.”
The group was inspired by what they saw, and concluded their stay with a promise to share the memories with their friends at home, and eventually a return visit.
“The scope of the problem is huge in Africa, but we’re grateful that our family and friends could make a difference by contributing financially and personally to encourage the care workers and orphaned children in Belfast.”
A look back at what made 2011 a special year for Hands at Work and our children across Africa. Mouse over "NOTES" to read about these special moments.
Kristal Hoff is a high school teacher from Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada and has been involved with Hands at Work for the last three years. Her work in Malawi had inspired her to, upon her return to Canada, fight not only for the material liberty of school children in Malawi, but also for the spiritual freedom of high schoolers in Canada.
It all started when my feet were getting itchy. I had been in Africa for just over a year and a half [volunteering with Hands at Work] and then came home to teach at the high school [in Canada] I had attended: Lloydminster Comprehensive High School. My heart was still pumping hard for Africa and I just couldn't quiet myself about it. It's like that scripture where Jesus says if the people didn't speak, the rocks would cry out. I started just dreaming with a few teachers about the possibility of a partnership between the Lloydminster school and the Malawi community school. I dreamed up how it could work out: For the school to sponsor a group of 50 kids they would need to raise CA$9000 a year, which worked out to less than CA$1 per person per month. How easy! I had a few core teachers excited and then got the administration [of the school] on board.
Lloydminster is a very busy city with lots of big paychecks and lots of big dirty trucks. The dream was to see these kids see beyond the bubble of fast oil money in Lloydminster and begin to understand a bigger purpose for themselves. When I was teaching, I found that many kids have no appreciation for school anymore because they can easily quit and get a job on the oil rigs. I also found that many of the students I was teaching came from families that made it big in the oil boom and as a result never had to face suffering. It was interesting because when I thought of this relationship, I was more passionate about the transformation of the school and the student body in Canada than I was about the school in Malawi. It would be easy to find money for another source to help take care of the kids in Malawi, but I felt so strongly that it had to be these Lloyd kids.
James Moreland (in photo on right with friend) ran the Edinburgh Marathon in May 2011. At the age of 18 years, 1 day and 20 hours, he became the youngest person ever to have run the Edinburgh Marathon. Below is his story of about why he decided to do it and the trials and triumphs along the way.
Last November while sitting in a Saint Andrews pub on the east coast of Scotland, my friend and I made a deal to run the May 2011 Edinburgh Marathon together. Now, my friend was a runner; I was not. I kept myself reasonably fit—a 30 minute jog around St. Andrews would be more than sufficient for me—but forget about a gruelling 26.2 mile (42.1 km) annihilation around the Scottish capital!
I first heard about Hands at Work through my mum Judith who travelled to South Africa to witness the work out there. Seeing her return really compelled to help was actually quite infectious, and after reading through the Hands at Work webpage, I too came to really respect the work that is being done. To me it felt like a perfect demonstration of Christians showing others–especially the poor and needy–God’s love and compassion for them, putting into practise one of the two commandments Jesus highlighted: love your neighbour as yourself. It’s a brilliant display of Christian ‘brotherhood’ as people come together—local churches offering love and support and oversees volunteers using their giftings to serve. I can’t emphasize enough how inspired I was by Hands at Work and I found God really challenging me to give and serve more, which is ultimately why I felt running the marathon to raise money for Hands at Work was a perfect opportunity to support the work. So I would run the marathon for Hands at Work, and I would do it in less than 4 hours.
The reply was insightful: "They're on the same road, it's just a very long road."
Two schools. Both on the same road. Both community schools. This basically means that they are run by volunteers and get no money from the government, but are, crucially, free to attend.
We have to feed the kids before we deworm them. They don’t eat everyday and if a kid is properly full of worms it's not good to give them the tablets. It is worth giving that a second thought: They don’t eat everyday. It's not that sometimes they skip breakfast, it's that some days they don’t eat. At all. The food we provide gives the tablet something to work on.
The food is appreciated, but is just so temporary. It probably doesn't last much longer than our visit. Even the deworming needs to be repeated in six months. On its own it's not going to transform their worlds.
You might remember this family: Johnny, Joey, Holly and Hannah Gilchrist from Illinois, USA spent their last Summer doing odd jobs to raise funds for the community and children of Baraka in Zambia.
Though the Gilchrist brood have never visited Zambia, working to support this community that they had heard about via Hands at Work founder, George Snyman, they feel as though they are "a part of the family".
Baraka is located 10 miles northwest of Kabwe in Central Zambia. Kabwe, and the surrounding area, is high in lead content, placing it fourth on the list of the Most Polluted Cities in the World and causing many birth defects in the children in the area. The rampant HIV/AIDS pandemic further plagues the community's health. In a community with more than 900 households, there are an estimated 500 orphans, many vulnerable children and child-headed households.
In the middle of this poor, rural community, a team of 26 volunteer care workers are bringing hope to orphaned children by visiting them in their homes and ensuring that they receive nutritious meals, a basic education and that their health and safety is seen to.
With a generous heart and a desire to support and multiply the care workers' work, Joey (11) is dedicating another Summer to pet-sitting. All the money he raises will go towards caring for the community's children. He even made his own business cards!
Below, read a note from Joey's mom, Bridgette, to the Hands at Work office in Zambia, and a letter from Joey to the children in Baraka.
Mthandazo sits at a fire he has built for cooking outside of his small stone, mud and stick house which resembles more of a play-fort. This is where he and his 15-year-old nephew, Sipho, live. The boys’ first home collapsed during the rainy season the year before. Their new home belongs to Sipho’s mother who abandoned her son when she moved to another village. Mthandazo says he is grateful for the company and security Sipho provides, especially at night.
At night Mthandazo worries about the rats that come and eat through their mattress and about the coming rains that will likely wash away their home. He also worries because there is no door on which to put a lock to keep their few belongings safe.
Mthandazo’s elder sister passed away last year, leaving him the head of the household. His father, who was never really around, passed away a few years ago and his mother moved to work on a rural farm in 2002. Since then Mthandazo has rarely seen her more than a day month when he makes a three-hour trek by minibus-taxi to visit her.
Through all these challenges, Mthandazo has remained a strong student at school and dreams of becoming a geography teacher. He is respected in his village both by adults and his peers. When asked if Mthandazo ever gets into trouble, his care worker replies: “The only trouble Mthandazo has is with food.” The money his mother has to spare each month varies and sometimes there isn’t enough even for the taxi fare to visit her.
What an amazing year 2010 was for Hands at Work Canada! God has continued to open doors and to bring more people into the Hands at Work family, people like Nathan Chong.
Nathan is a little boy with a big heart to give. For his seventh birthday, Nathan had decided that he would ask guests at his birthday party to make a donation to Hands at Work in lieu of birthday gifts. He raised a total of 300CAD!
When Hands at Work founder, George Snyman, visited Toronto in December 2010, Hands at Work Canada arranged for him to speak at Nathan's school and the response was amazing. After George’s visit, children sent letters to George and a quilt was raffled off with all proceeds going to Hands at Work. A simple, yet profound, act of giving from one child has planted seeds that will bear fruit in many children, both in Canada and in Africa.
Dear Mr Snyman
We thank you for coming to our school to talk to us about Hands at Work in Africa. We understand that those people in Africa have scarce supplies, indeed. We understand also why we donate to Hands at Work and we hope to be able to donate more in the future.
Described as a 'diamond in the rough' by Lonely Planet, Zambia conjures up images of the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba for most. And as breathtaking as the attractions of this country are, it is in the tucked away villages, away from the tourist hustle and bustle, that you will find the true gems of Zambia: its people.
About an hour and a half from Zambia's original mining city, Kabwe, is the little-known community of Susu. The people here are extremely impoverished and this small town is isolated from the city and its education facilities and health services.
Hands at Work, through our model of mobilising and equipping local Christians to effectively care for the poorest of the poor, has been partnering with Susu community since 2004. Friends of Hands at Work, Nurses for Africa, recently visited the community to see to its basic healthcare needs.
The group of eight nurses made their way to Susu in September this year via a bumpy road, meandering through thick bush, until they reached a clearing where they were met by a welcoming, brightly coloured display of paper chains made by the community's 187 children.
It was obvious to the visitors that Susu community is setting the bar high: The community-based organisation, comprising of local volunteers and supported by Hands at Work, is currently ensuring that 29 of the most vulnerable children receive a nutritious, daily meal, which will soon by supplemented by their new vegetable garden. The organisation's care workers also make regular home visits to orphaned and vulnerable children, bringing encouragement and love. And a life-saving borehole has been sunk which supplies clean drinking water to the whole community.
By far the most outstanding trait of this community, however, is its commitment to educating its children: “Education is the key to success” is a proudly displayed slogan here and Susu's four volunteer teachers are dedicated to teaching their pupils despite a desperate lack of resources. The community has no government school and had the community-based organisation not stepped in, Susu's children would be left illiterate and without an opportunity to escape the poverty trap. Class is held in make-shift structures or under trees, but when it rains in this tropical area, school is often cancelled. The community is not taking it lying down, though: In faith, they have started firing clay bricks in a kiln in the hope that funds for cement and other materials would be supplied.
The schooling challenge, unfortunately, is not the only one. Susu is about 15 km from the closest medical clinic. Children and adults alike are suffering from diseases, waterborne or otherwise, that would be a easily treated in a well-equipped facility. What would merely be an irritation to a Westerner, can sometimes be a life-threatening condition in rural communities such as this.
The Nurses for Africa team – the forth one to visit Zambia in the 2 years – makes a huge difference with each visit. The nurses from Illinois, US got to work fast and saw to the basic needs of just over 400 people.
With a little help from its international friends, this community – determined to beat the odds – has a promising future ahead of it.
Read about a previous Nurses for Africa visit here.
Have a look at more Susu photos on our Flickr site.
Chelsea Eva of Ballarat in Victoria Australia, owns and operates EVE Salon and Beauty Bar, a small hair salon business that commenced trading in late 2009. When Chelsea heard (through one of her clients obviously) that Hands at Work in Africa founder George Snyman would be visiting Ballarat, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something herself to assist with the work of Hands at Work.
On the same day George was speaking with Ballarat school students, Chelsea was styling hair, as she normally would; but she had also committed to giving 10% of all sales on the day towards Hands at Work.
Although she desires to visit Africa herself in the future, Chelsea identified that she could put her skills to good use and easily assist those who are working on the cold face in Africa.
George and Sheila Green came to visit Hands at Work in Swaziland in 2007. An organic relationship of prayer and support has grown from there with their church, Hands at Work and a small community of women and men caring in Swaziland. Recently George Snyman from Hands at Work was able to visit and encourage their rural church: St John’s in Heath Hayes, Staffordshire, UK.
Below is George Green’s account of their story.
For two years now, our small church in Staffordshire, UK, St John’s Heath Hayes, has supported Hands at Work in Africa, with a particular interest in one community based organisation in Swaziland: Asondle Sive Bomake (ASB). This relationship developed when my wife, Sheila and I visited their community and worked briefly with their coordinator, Nomsa Lukhele.
Shooting went well for this years Living Truth telethon to raise funds for Hands at Work in Mozambique and Zimbabwe! We’re really excited to share this event with an even wider audience of Hands supporters this year. Dates for broadcast are as follows:
Oct 11 Mozambique update and stories
Oct 18 South Africa update and new Zimbabwe stories
Oct 25 Malawi
You can check out www.livingtruth.ca for specific broadcast times. Please send this on to your friends at home who have the opportunity to watch.
Thanks for your interest and support of this exciting event!
Watch a TV program featuring Hands at Work in:
Living Truth, based in Toronto Canada, aired two programs in October 2008 highlighting Hands at Work in Africa’s work in Mozambique and South Africa. The telethon raised sizeable funds to care for the vulnerable children of Africa by providing access to education, healthcare and food security through care centres.
Due to the success of the programs, Living Truth will return to Africa in May 2009 to film updates from the countries they originally covered, and also to highlight new areas in which Hands is working.The programs will air in Canada in October 2009.
Funding to care for 50 orphaned and vulnerable children by providing food security, access to education and healthcare for 14 months was received in March 2009 by Breakthrough Care Group, a community based organization operating in the Zambian village of Mulenga. The money was raised by the members of Lakeview Free Methodist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Hungry season. In Mozambique, food is scarce between October and April every year. This year’s hungry season, October 2008 to April 2009, was particularly devastating. Dry weather caused brush fires in September 2008, fires which burned numerous homes and crops, killing some and leaving many homeless and hungry.
Late rain further exacerbated the problem. People bought seed to grow maize in their mashambas (gardens) and planted them expecting rain to come at the normal time, usually in October or November, but it didn't. The seeds died, and the people bought more seed. Again, they planted them expecting rain to come, but it didn't
Hands At Work partner, World In View, is holding a benefit concert in on Saturday, November 15th in Dallas, TX to raise money for our Mozambique projects. This will be an amazing night of worship led by emerging gospel artist, Douglas Feil. Douglas Feil has performed in concert, at the Grammies and on numerous late night shows with artist such as U2 and Kirk Franklin. Admission and parking are free, and an offering will be received at the event. If you are in the DFW area, please go and show your support! For more details visit: Benefit Concert.
Hands UK Chairman, Nick Lawrence, and his wife, Heather, who has been training community school teachers in Zambia for the last 4 years, recently attended a presentation evening at Halesowen College. During the academic year 2007-08, students in the Child Care & Education department created a wide range of educational resources to be sent to the community schools we support in Zambia and also put on several fundraising events. The picture shows Nick & Heather receiving a cheque for GBP 1,305.78 from Diane McCathie, Student Support Director at the College.
We are sincerely grateful to all the students for their hard work and, in particular, to Gill Pendry for co-ordinating the project. The College will be undertaking another project during the 2008-09 academic year as we continue to build on this excellent partnership.
A long-time Hands at Work supporter shaves his head in support of a Hands at Work project. See the video: