In a War-Ravaged Region (DRC)

Children in streets of burned down village.

Hands at Work in Africa founder George Snyman is in Goma, DRC this week. You have heard about Goma: it’s the war-ravaged region in north-eastern DRC where millions have died, suffered mass rapes, and been driven from their homes into refugee camps. The war was recently declared over, and the camps have been closed. People are streaming back to burned and destroyed villages, trying to figure out Orphans and widows just outside of meeting with church leaders.how to start re-building. This is the time for Hands at Work to get involved. The situation remains unstable; division and suspicion within communities are rife. But we are committed to reaching the poorest of the poor, and right now that’s in Goma. Now is the time to be there.

Please pray for George. Pray for wisdom, for guidance to find the local people burning with compassion, and for the right village to establish a model of local churches collaborating to serve the most vulnerable orphans and widows with basic care.

To read more, follow George on Twitter. You can also read this article published by the NY Times this week.


Carpentry Workshop Expansions (SA)

Weston and Liz Muronzi, together with their three children moved from Zimbabwe to South Africa in 1997. After serving for several years in other missions work they found and joined Hands at Work in 2008, quickly slotting themselves in to a place that both served Hands and that utilised their skills. Weston, a carpenter, began using his skills to train some of the young orphaned men and Liz started using her hospitality skills to host and cater to visiting teams and the larger Hands family. While their youngest son Act is still in school, their son Adonis is working with Hands in the marketing department and their oldest daughter Prudence is working outside of Hands.

2009 was a busy year for Weston as Hands Village was being developed. He supplied all the homes with cupboards and kitchen fittings. This proved to be good for the guys he had been training to test out their new skills and to gain experience. And in 2010 a new opportunity came about for the carpentry team: it happened that a local carpenter was moving and offered to sell his carpentry tools and supplies at half price to Hands. With the help of friends in UK and Netherlands, they managed to buy the tools. This not only gave the carpentry team an opportunity to expand and train more guys from the community but also opened a door to start a small income generating project to support the work of Hands at Work.

Weston’s dream to impart life skills while generating funds for the work of Hands is reachable. Now we are only praying that God will send more volunteers with carpentry skills and the same heart to train young men while sharing the love of Christ. If you have carpentry skills or are interested in supporting the carpentry skills development program. Contact Weston: weston@handsatwork.org

Read more about this and other specific opportunities to serve.

George in the UK

Hands at Work in Africa CEO and founder George Snyman will travel to the UK this January to challenge churches about their role in caring for the orphaned, widowed and the dying, to cast the Hands at Work vision, and to attend strategic meetings with the organisation’s country offices and partner churches and donor organisations.

His itinerary is as follows:

 Ipswich - January 17-18 |Speaking at The Forge Church |Sunday 17

London - January 20 |Pastor's Conference at Christchurch, |Fulham

Staffordshire - January 22-25 |Meeting with Staffordshire buddies |program volunteers

Cannock - January 24 |Speaking at St. John's, Heath Hayes

Birmingham - January 25-27 |Speaking at The Blue Coat School, |Harborne January 27 AM |Meeting with Zambia Live team (partnership between Zion Church & The Forge) |January 27 PM

Dorncaster - January 28

Speaking to 6th Form assembly at Trinity Academy

Fareham - January 29 |Meeting with Locks Heath Free Church Leaders

Fulham - January 31 |Speaking at Christchurch, Fulham

For any queries, please email Nick@uk.handsatwork.org.

Breaking New Ground: Entering Malawi

Levy Mwenda is a nurse from Zambia who has worked with Hands for many years. Residing in South Africa, Levy has assumed many roles with Hands in several countries, including Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Nigeria.

Levy’s first trip to Malawi is a ten-day undertaking to map out the community of Ngwele in Dedza. Knowing no one but a contact through a South African church, Levy goes to find out if this is a community in which Hands should work. Pastor Roy, the contact, is the headmaster of a school in Dedza. The two-room school holds 120 children in one room and 95 in the other, and Roy is the only teacher. He runs between the rooms throughout the day to teach both groups of children, who are packed tightly into the relatively small space. Roy has dreams of starting his own school, Levy discovers. Though the school he teaches in is extremely overcrowded, there are still many children who can’t afford the fees to attend. Roy wants to start a school that doesn’t require any fees and serves the most vulnerable children, those who have nothing.

Before doing anything else, Levy must receive clearance from the community leaders, including chiefs and tribal authorities. This step is important, as these leaders have the power to either enable or disable the work to begin. Levy seeks approval and partnership by sharing the heart of Hands at Work: to see the local church effectively caring for the dying, orphans and widows.

Giving Back Hope (SA)

Ilary (left) and ConstanceA little mat with a nicely folded blanket packed in a corner, a comb, a half bottle of cooking oil, a few old jugs of water and a small table are all you’ll find inside this one-room house that provides shelter for four people.

Last year things were difficult for Constance, age 10, and her sister Ilary, age 14. Facing the death of their parents at a young age left them with a hole which no one could fill. Their grandmother took them in but had no way to support the two girls, so they left Mozambique, their home, in order to seek the help of distant relatives in one of South Africa’s poorest villages, Welverdiend, in Bushbuckridge area.

They found shelter with an uncle who owned a one-room house with his young wife and small child, but this was not enough space to house six people. The uncle was often away looking for work, but when he was home, the two girls and their grandmother had to find shelter at a neighbor’s house. This left the kids extremely vulnerable.

Watch Us Online!

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.


Focusing on Access to Education (NIG)

Despite an overwhelming need for access to education, enrolment at the Hands at Work community school in Lagos, Nigeria has been halted since October 2008 due to overcrowding.  The 182 primary school students overflowed the tiny wooden structure used as a school.   After a long search, the local home based care volunteers discovered land and negotiated an affordable deal to construct a new school, which will open in June 2009, enabling more vulnerable children to receive schooling.  

Literacy School Expansion (NIG)

Construction of a literacy school to benefit vulnerable women and children began in Kano, Nigeria in early November. Since 2007 local volunteers in Kano have operated literacy training out of a two-classroom building, but the need has outgrown the current space, requiring the construction of a new facility.

Women from the rural agricultural community of Nariya in Kano marry young and know little of life other than working the land alongside their husbands. The volunteers host groups of these women for three month stints in the farming off-season, teaching them the foundations of reading and writing in their single-building facility. The ability to read and write is a skill set to which these women have never been exposed. It is a skill set that opens them up to the world in a myriad of ways and an ability that, to lack, is isolating.

Reaching the Poorest of the Poor (MOZ)

On a bare patch of dirt in the bush outskirts of the community I met Jaos (9) and Luisa (7):  a brother and sister that lived under a tarp tied to a tree. Their mother died last year and their father was in an accident and can't use his arm or earn income. In April the family’s few clothes, blankets and cooking pots were stolen from beneath the open tarp, and church volunteers found the kids shivering in the cold winter evening.

Jaos and Luisa pass entire days without a meal. The only food they get is by begging from other already poor neighbors or by offering to pound (by hand) a neighbor’s corn kernels into flour for a fee of a handful of the flour. Neither of them is in school. They can’t afford exercise books or pens. But without food, they couldn’t concentrate enough to learn anyway.

The volunteers who discovered the family returned the next day to build a small single room with grass walls to at least shelter the wind. When I met them, the kids hadn’t eaten in a day. They had a single set of clothes: Luisa’s dress and Jaos’ jean jacket, so crusty they would stand on their own.

Expansion into Zimbabwe

As part of the drive to reach three new countries by 2010, a Hands at Work team visited eastern Zimbabwe in July. Two rural villages were targeted as immediate expansion sites.

This grandmother is 75% blind, she doesn't work but earns a little  income by renting out her second room. Five of her seven children have passed away leaving her with 16 grandchildren that she now stays with in this one room. She has also taken in one other orphan from the neighborhood. These are the lives we want to touch by beginning work in Zimbabwe.

Hands are at Work in the USA Office

SanFrancisco.gifWith much excitement and joy we announce the official registration of Hands at Work in Africa (USA). Hands USA, as we call ourselves, was officially formed last fall, and our team and activities have continued to develop and grow from that initiation.

Our Roots

While we exist to work with all churches across the USA, it was with Wellspring Church that our passion to start Hands USA was born. I, along with my husband, Henry, and our 3 children, traveled with Wellspring to South Africa last July. We had decided to visit Africa as a family after hosting George and Carolyn at our home for dinner while they were visiting Wellspring Church in 2006. We had been touched by their commitment and compelled to look beyond ourselves here.

That same evening after our guests had left, Henry and I made the decision to go, but also to be open to whatever further involvement God might have for me in serving Africa rather than going back to work or school as I had anticipated in the near future. In Africa, I told George about this decision. His response was incredible. He said, " Lauren, we have been praying for a year about someone like you,

Work Exploding in Zambia

luanshya-training2.jpg Hands at Work’s initiatives in Zambia are certainly exploding. In West Zambia, incredible new projects are just breaking ground. In Kabwe and Luanshya existing projects are expanding as new communities are also brought into the family. Long-time Hands at Work leaders Sal and Robyn Hunziker recently returned from a 6-week trip to facilitate some of the expanding work across Zambia. Here is a brief snapshot of some of their work, provided by Robyn.

By the way, many readers still know the Hands at Work Luanshya property by its old name: “The Farm”. It’s been renamed, after a gigantic, signature tree growing in the middle of the property. In the Nyanja language the tree’s name is Kachele, representing fullness and vigor. So next time you visit you’ll be welcomed to: “Kachele Village”.

Construction Continues

Hands_Village1.jpgConstruction of the ground-breaking Hands at Work village continues! A large crew of local workers overseen by volunteer Michael Kaufman and construction manager Sal Hunziker have sweated out 10-hour days getting to roof level of the Footprints training and accommodation center and have also started the staff accommodation. A strong boost is expected on October 17 when a construction team from Westside King’s Church in Calgary arrives to lend a hand.

In a previous post it was written that Hands at Work “needs to be off ASM by the end of the year.” This was incorrecly taken by some readers to mean ASM was throwing us into the street on a whim. That is not the case. ASM is also a growing ministry, and a phased transfer over the next few months to the new property will be done in line with the expansion of both ministries. It was, in fact, ASM who generously provided the land for the new Hands at Work village. And the incredible opportunity to move together as a family of staff, footprints, and visitors to our own land far outweighs the challenges!

Hands is Moving

hands-expansion.jpg When George first spoke it to the Hands at Work staff, the message was a hard one: “Hands at Work must be off ASM property within six months,” he said. “By January, 2008, we will not live on this campus any longer, we must be on the land we’ve been given.”

A hard message, when spoken on land yet completely bare of buildings. Yet George spoke with a smile, because although it will take a literal miracle to get the property ready for the staff, teams and footprints students to live and work there by January, and although the alternative—scattering the Hands at Work staff around the region—would devastate operations and momentum, he says this is a chance to forge the collective character of Hands at Work like no other.

Since the beginning in 1998, Masoyi Home-Based Care (MHBC) and Hands at Work have operated from the Africa School of Missions (ASM) property in a wonderful partnership that gave Hands facilities and housing and gave ASM students practical outreach opportunities. Last year the process of moving MHBC offices into the community began in faith; in September they will be open.

Care Center Dreams in MOZ

care-center-MOZ.jpgThough it is 3am, Carlos Giua cannot sleep. The coordinator of Rubatano Home Based Care (RHBC) in Gondola, Mozambique spends many nights awake. His wife, Pascua, laments her husband’s constant inability to rest. “But how can I?” Carlos responds. “There is so much for which I must pray.”

Eight miles from Carlos’ house in Gondola, a woman named Amelia also wakes early. Her husband passed away nine months ago from AIDS. She knows his killer is returning soon for her. She feels deep pain, but more from the soul agony of knowing she will soon leave four young children behind than from the physical trauma of the virus on her body. Death weighs heavily on her mind. Though she has watched many people die, Amelia often wonders, “What will it be like? Will I die in great pain?” Each week she is visited by an RHBC nurse who helps to ease her pain.

Deeper still inside Gondola, 5-year-old Joalinho wakes to his baby nephew’s cry.

New Offices

UK.jpg In late March, the newly registered UK office of Hands at Work was officially launched at a ceremony before an international guest list including the Nigerian High Commissioner and the Deputy Speaker of the UK House of Commons held at Zion Christian Centre.

George Snyman attended and addressed the audience with the Hands at Work vision. In response he was blessed with a gift: a large sheet covered with the paint-dipped handmark of each attendee, symbolizing their commitment to the cause. The launch was an incredible success.

The next Hands at Work regional office registration is underway across the world in Australia. For information on that process or to lend advice, contact Shane Lepp at slepp@bigpond.net.au