12-year-old Vuyo* lives with his younger brother and grandparents, who are unable to work and only receive a small pension of R200 per month (approximately $20.). Nomathemba and the team of volunteer Care Workers could clearly see that Vuyo’s family was desperately vulnerable. However, the lack of income in the home meant that the boys and their elderly grandparents were sleeping on grass mats and often going to bed hungry.
The Care Workers knew what they needed to do to take care of the family. Starting to visit Vuyo’s home regularly and identifying their needs, the Care Workers were able to provide mattresses and blankets for each family member, helping them to rest well throughout the night. In 2017, Vuyo’s grandfather was given fertiliser and maize to plant, increasing the opportunity for a good harvest. Addressing these needs and more, the Care Workers truly live out the words of Isaiah 58:10: ‘If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.’
Recently, Bree and Ian Bone, International Volunteers (Canada), had the opportunity to spend five weeks with the local Hands at Work team in Swaziland.
"One day, while we were in Bhandeni Community, Swaziland, Vusi Mbuza and Melody Makusua, African Volunteers (South Africa), wanted to have a meeting with the Care Workers, to address some challenges. Due to the language barrier, we don’t know what the conversation was, but we heard the tone and watched the body language for over two hours. Vusi and Melody led the meeting firmly but gently, giving loving space for the Care Workers to share and to talk. Afterwards, the Care Workers had made their own plans to address the stumbling blocks, but this doesn’t happen without loving leadership."
After sleeping the night on the ground, 13-year-old Fana* would walk two hours without food in his stomach to get to school, where he is in grade 2. But thanks to the support of volunteer Care Workers, Fana now has a mattress and blanket, and looks forward to a nutritious meal each day at the Care Point.
Every day, nine-year-old Siyabonga* has to walk a long distance to attend school, then fetch water and collect firewood. He has gone through life without a fatherly example to look up to, yet there is hope because Siyabonga attends the Care Point where he learns about Jesus and what it means to be loving and kind. He has taken pride in caring for his siblings which gives hope for the future of the young men in Bhandeni.
When the Hands local office or Regional Support Team spend the night in the community of Bhandeni, there is often an evening revival meeting that the Care Workers and youth are excited to participate in. The meetings are characterised by lively, vibrant worship and a word of encouragement.
We should never underestimate the voice of a child. Kids of all ages come to Africa with their parents and become involved in God's transforming work. Children often take home a unique experience and can become great advocates for the new friends that they make. “While I was in Africa, we went to Bhandeni Community, Swaziland. There was a girl called Angel, who was about four years old. She was quite sweet but tough on the outside. If she didn’t get what she wanted, she would act out in aggressive ways however she loved cuddles. It made me think that maybe she didn’t have parents and that acting out was her way of defending herself. Once you started hugging her, she wouldn’t let go. When I go home, I want to find a space to tell my friends about the time that I had in Africa. I want to share with them this story about Angel, the other friends that I met and the Care Workers. It can be hard to share and speak up for the children but I think that it is important. If other children are aware, they will tell their parents and hopefully the word will spread and people will understand.” - Barney Poulsom (12), Woodlands Team UK
In the middle of April, a group of volunteers traveled to Bhandeni, #Swaziland, for a Church Mobilisation workshop. Farzam Mohajer (#InternationalVolunteer, #Canada) reflects on what he experienced during this time spent together: "This workshop is built around the “Mother Theresa” of the community: Nomathemba. She started her work in this community nearly 20 years ago by building a classroom, with the help of the community, in order to teach children who were not able to go to school. Over the years, she has transitioned into being the Bhandeni Community Based Organisation (CBO) coordinator, the leader of a group of #CareWorkers who have chosen to serve the most vulnerable. When she shared her story with the group of local pastors, they testified to her spirit and determination over the years to serve the most vulnerable."⠀- #ServingTheMostVulnerable
Yesterday, Ivy and Royie from our Malawi office, and Jed from the US, walked the newly planted maize fields in Bhandeni Community, Swaziland. It's amazing to see the growth in this crop since the seeds were first planted in November. What an answer to prayer, thank you all for standing with us!