At Hands at Work we have many volunteers, from Africa and all over the world, who have had experiences in Africa that have changed their lives. Most volunteers have a moment, or a series of moments that defined their understanding of God’s heart for the poor. At Hands we encourage all volunteers to focus on relationships, and the real moments God blesses them with as they meet Care Workers and children across Africa. Often these moments become a memory, but sometimes they are captured on camera. Photos have a powerful way of evoking memories and the feelings experienced in the moment. We asked our volunteers for one photo that is really significant to them and to describe why. The most significant photos to us are not always necessarily the most professional or even most beautiful images. They are the ones, however, that take us back to a moment that changed our lives.
Care Worker Mama Esther in Kambove, DRC
Bernard took it in 2011 when visiting her home
"Nothing to live for herself but so much to give for others"
Community Based Organisation Coordinator Rhoda in Racecourse, Zambia
Julia took it in 2012
"She does not need words to head the CBO"
In the end, being strict with myself, I have today decided to select one from this past visit to KaPhunga.
It's one that reminds me of lots of things ~ the new centre can be seen in the background ~ there is wonderfully caring baba Vusi, who shows such love to every child and family he meets ~ including this little family that we met on our way back from visiting the 'field' that Nomsa (Community Based Organisation Coordinator) has been given by the community to grow maize for the children of Swaziland. It shows me how Hands at Work has assisted Nomsa to encourage a community in her country to care for the widows and orphans, and bringing us all together from all around the world, walking side by side to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus.
Annie - Mcheneke, Malawi
Photo taken by Marj Miller, November, 2012
Annie is a disabled teenaged girl who lives with incredible challenges. Orphaned, neglected and rejected, her incredible smile encourages me to hang on to hope in hopeless situations and trust God for breakthroughs.
The reason I love this photo: it represents the unity of working together and the main source of the day; food! A lifeline to unite the culture.
I took this photo in Bushbuck Ridge, South Africa (Belfast Community)
Photographer: Morgan Malster
Location: Amlew (Kitwe, Zambia)
Subject: Memory and Kelvin
Description: The first time I visited Memory and Kelvin and their siblings in their home was the first time I felt strongly that there was no hope for one of our children. I saw the Care Workers pour love out on them and that was when I realized that the love of the Care Workers is what brings hope. I have this picture up in my room and it reminds me to pray for them by name.
Name: Catherine Clarkson
Photographer: Alicia Ralph
Location: Elekuru village, Nigeria
Description: After riding motorbikes through the jungle to a remote village, we came across children who had not yet been ‘found’ and brought under the care of the Community Based Organisation. Dayo was one of the most broken and traumatised children I have ever met, having been abandoned by his mother as a new-born. He now attends school with his older brother, eats at the Care Point each day and receives regular and loving home visits from the Elekuru Care Workers.
Photographer: Melissa Warren
Location: Mngwere Community, Malawi
Subject: Henry the Care Worker with Mandris (child)
Your short description: We visited Madris in his home. When asked where he slept we were directed to a kitchen hut no more than 1.5m in diameter – half filled with cooking equipment, the other half he would share to sleep in with his older brother. It was heart wrenching to see the squalid and unsafe conditions he slept in every night. The only reason I could walk away from this situation was knowing Madris has a Care Worker Henry, who visits Mandris almost every day, and cares for Mandris as if he was his own son. For me, this photo captures the beautiful relationship between Care Worker and child that is so foundational to who we are as Hands at Work.
Location: Mcheneke community, Malawi
Description: This 15 year old girl is named Annie. She has no family
apart from a granny who doesn't care for her and a physically abusive
alcoholic brother. People often come to her home to tell her she is
cursed, and this makes Annie suicidal. She has no food at all, so she
spends every day under a mango tree eating whatever falls. This photo
is meaningful to me because when I met her she had constant pain on
her face. I took this picture when I said something funny and for a
passing moment a smile broke across her face.
This photo was sent to us by Fortunate and is taken at Siyathathuka Community Based Organisation in Clau Clau, South Africa.
It is of 5 families who take home fresh spinach from the garden Fortunate made.
The Care Workers and children there now have a large garden and I believe more children are taking home fresh vegetables which will help their health.
The reason that it means so much is that while our team were there we were able to replace the pump in the borehole so that they have water to enable their garden to grow.
It has just shown me the difference that water can make to a community in so many ways.
Our God is so good and provides - it was great to see them recognize this and to be so thankful to God for it.
This picture brings me hope. Tanazio is teaching children in the morning at the Care Point in Maonde community, Malawi. It brings hope for the future, hope for these children, and to me represents how the Care Workers serve vulnerable children across our communities.
Location: Home, Mandlesive, Clau Clau, South Africa
Subject: Senty (name changed), 4
I stayed with Senty and her family just weeks after coming to Africa for the first time. Her mother is 19 and was taking care of their household because her own parents have passed away. Their family is one of the poorest and most vulnerable in South Africa. But meeting Senty made me realise that a child in the most dire situation in Africa is not that different from a child in Canada. Their souls are the same. Senty is creative, bright, spunky, naughty, loud, beautiful, and has the biggest imagination. When I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, she said a frog. I feel every bit of her spirit when I see this photo and it’s second best to being with her in person.