Sommerset Community, South Africa. Life is hard for 10-year-old Unka* and her 7-year-old sister. They live in a one-roomed house and Unka, a child herself, cooks, cleans and fetches water for them both. Their mother sells food in a nearby city and although she comes home for one weekend a month, mostly the two little girls live alone and are extremely vulnerable.
In July 2018 there was a youth camp in the community of Sommerset, South Africa, facilitated by the Hands at Work Local Office Team in Hazyview and the Sunbury Baptist Church Team from Australia. Throughout the camp, the youth were taught about Jesus and what it means to be a Godly leader in their community.
Craig Rebro (International Volunteer, US) meet with Japhet Nxumalo, the man of peace from Sommerset Community and shared his story:
“As we sat under a shade tree to avoid the hot African sun, I gained insight into what it is like to be a leader in a desperately vulnerable community. This humble man shared with me about his God-appointed role and as we discussed the topic of what a man of peace is, he told me “a man of peace is a person who stands in front of the people; leading well. The people don’t complain when there is good leadership.” He explained that a huge challenge he faces is not having the resources to help when there is a need. I observed a man with a deep conviction to be someone with incredible integrity in the face of opposition. I learned that he was recently in the middle of being persecuted by local leaders because he set up a fund to help pay for funerals for the people in the community. When he was called to a meeting by those wanting a portion of this fund to have for their personal use, seven trucks loaded with women came to support him. As the local leaders arrived, all of the women were singing songs in solidarity with Japhet. The leaders sent him away, seeing the support that he had. As we walked to visit a woman’s home, it was evident that everyone knows Japhet. He told me that “he never quits and never stops” for the people. This unpaid and thankless calling that he has is incredibly humbling once you realise the magnitude of the brokenness in this community. Gentle and soft spoken, Japhet told me that his favourite chapter in the Bible is Psalm 23. He said that it is because God is his protector. Psalm 23, verse 4 says ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’
Once you read the scripture, it is not surprising that this is Japhet’s favourite. It’s evident to me that a man of peace is someone that everyone in the community can trust and look up to. A man of peace is someone who is selfless, knows that his identity is based on his relationship with the Lord and who puts others before himself.”
The ‘man of peace’ is someone that Hands at Work identifies when first looking to work in a new community. They exemplify characteristics of Jesus in the way that they love and care for the most vulnerable.
40 Days of Prayer - Day 32. Pray for the relationships between Care Workers, caregivers, and the children we serve. Many of our Care Workers and caregivers are wounded themselves. Pray for God’s transformational grace and love to heal their inner wounds so that they will in turn pour out grace and love to the children they care for. Pray for unity and peace between these relationships and that God’s love would fill every void left from a damaged relationship.#40Days2017 In the rural community of Sommerset, there is a dedicated volunteer Care Worker named Theresa. It is fitting that her name is Theresa because she serves as a mother figure to the children in this community who do not have mothers. Theresa cares for and visits two children named Joseph* and Maria* who attend the Care Point. Joseph and his sister Maria are frequently left home alone without the proper care and attention that they need. Their mother has been known to disappear and leave the children for weeks at a time. Theresa has stepped in to ensure that they have a safe place to stay in their mothers absence. She has become a mother figure to the children. It has taken time for Joseph to learn to trust Theresa and to open up with her because of his deep inner wounds. Theresa's unfailing commitment to care for the children in her community has earned her the respect and trust of these two children. Now, Joseph is open and feels free to share.
Gogo Lusha reflectes on the support that she and her family get at the Care Point in Sommerset Community, South Africa. “I come here to cry and my life is here, if my kids get life here then I also get life here” - Gogo Lusha
"It was very special visiting this family for a second time in Sommerset Community, South Africa. I was encouraged to see the relationship that is continuing to build between the Gogo and Audrey, the Hazyview local office coordinator. The Gogo struggles to support her three grandchildren but Audrey is helping and encouraging her amidst the challenges they are facing." - Jen Waspe, International Volunteer (UK)