Home-Based Care

Not My Love, but His (SA)

Nora is a volunteer care worker at the Mandlesive Community-Based Organisation (CBO) in South Africa. As a care worker, she joins several other men and women who share her heart of servanthood to bring hope to the most vulnerable children in her community. The care workers visit these children regularly, offering help with homework, spiritual guidance, and a listening ear. They walk them through heartaches and encourage them to follow their Father and the plans He has for them. Evidently, their stories are every bit as compelling as those of the children whom they serve.

"After my boyfriend left me alone to care for our daughter, I started selling home grown vegetables to earn a living. It was tiring work, and often left me stressed and tired at the end of the day. At the time both my sister and my mother were very sick, and I found myself caring for them and my sister’s children in addition to my daily jobs.

My only hope was these women who would come and visit my sister each day. They taught me how to bathe her and care for her. Once my sister died and my little family gained four more, children, I decided that it was too much to bear and I needed some way to cope with my life’s situation. Then my mother passed away. This is when I asked to join these faithful women who had been devoting their days to caring for my sister and her family.

Now that I am a careworker at Mandlesive Community-Based Organisation, I couldn’t ask for a different life. I care for nine orphans by assisting them with their daily activities such as washing, cooking, helping them with their homework, just as the other careworkers cared for my family.  Giving to the community from the bottom of my heart is the reason that I get up every day; the reason that I can cope with losing my sister and my mother. There are often times where I must give up some of my family’s support in order to bring necessities to these children, and sometimes it is difficult for me to explain this to my family. Sometimes people laugh at me and tell me that I am stupid to be giving up my life to care for other people. While this hurts me, the pain of seeing a hungry child hurts more.

The Lord has overwhelmed me with his blessings. He has kept me and my family safe – there are many times where I have worked with very contagiously sick patients, and He has spared me from illness. My daughters are happy and healthy, I have sweet potatoes in the garden and mangoes on my trees, and my family has food on the table each night. I am able to love these orphans that I care for as my own children because I recognize that it’s not my love to give. Our Father has so richly blessed us with His love, and I know that the love that I show these orphans does not come from me, but Him.

Nora was recently trained by Hands at Work, through the Walking with Wounded Children Program. The training, developed by a team of counsellors and psychologists, equips those who care for children with tools to lead them on a path of healing from any emotional wounds or losses they may have experienced. This training, combined with the love embedded in the hearts of women like Nora, are bringing God’s hope to vulnerable children across Africa.

Bringing the Hope - Part Two (ZAM)

Loveness walks to visit the patients and children whom she serves. Most of their homes are deep in the Zambian bush.

It is Tuesday. The sun is particularly hot and the sand below her feet is dry. Loveness is accompanying a care worker on one of her daily home visits. They arrive at a home nestled in the bush, where a grandmother sits on a grass mat, and leans against the wall of her home. She has been sitting on this mat from the time the sun rose, and will stay there until she is ready to go to bed. She is the guardian of Agnes*, her seven-year-old granddaughter. Agnes’ mother  passed away due to HIV, leaving her behind with her memory, and her disease. Seven-year-old Agnes and her grandmother take care of each other, but there is no source of income, and their small home is not secure and is falling apart.

This is My Story (SA)

Elvis Mahlanya, a self-portrait

Today Elvis Mahlanya, a strapping 22-year-old, is rather known as a passionate social change-maker, than an orphan. The product of the close relationships Hands at Work volunteers forged with him, Elvis shares his story below as only he can tell it.

No one can tell this, only me. I am Elvis, the eldest son of the late Sinah Mahlanya who was basically a single parent. She passed away in 2004 when I was just 15-years-old. In her absence I had to take over responsibility for my younger brother, Africa, who was just 13 and my sister Tebogo who was just 6 years old. I had to make sure that I could address their needs all by myself. Everything from fetching water down by the river and providing food for us became my responsibility. Most of the time I had to ask help from my family members or friends. I remember being scolded and shouted at by my own uncle as I tried to advocate for my brother who needed school shoes. His were torn in such a way that he could not wear them. Some days he just went to school barefoot.

Sipiwe's Story (ZAM)

Six-year-old Sipiwe poses for a photo in front of the Susu community school run entirely by volunteer teachers and staffSix-year-old Sipiwe lives with her grandmother in rural and remote Susu*, a community nestled in thick, African bush about 40km from the mining town of Kabwe in Central Zambia. Susu is an extraordinarily poor, under-resourced and spread-out community isolated from Kabwe and its education institutions and health facilities. It takes the residents of Susu about three hours to cycle to town to buy even the most basic of supplies.

But one thing Susu is not lacking in is initiative. Local leader, Sunday, with the aid of a band of volunteer care workers and Hands at Work, birthed new hope for the community: Susu Home-Based Care. In the short few years that the organisation has been running, Susu has started to transform. The community now boasts a profitable hammer mill, a vegetable garden watered with water extracted from the earth through a borehole and the beginnings of a three-roomed school building. (Undeterred by the absence of infrastructure, the community school – run entirely by volunteer teachers – currently has its classrooms in the church building and under trees.)

Bikes for Baraka (ZAM)

Team leaders in Baraka, Zambia, receiving new bicylces

Late last year, the volunteer care workers in Baraka, Zambia, identified a need within their community: Being in a rural location often means care workers must walk long distances to visit orphans and families in need of home-based care. Homes that are far away are not visited very often because the distance is difficult to cover on foot. Not only is home visitation sometimes difficult, there is also the problem of transporting sick children to the clinic or the hospital - both are far from most homes. In addition, the task of gathering supplies for the local care centre means that volunteers often must walk 5km to the road, hitch a ride 20km to town, buy supplies and do the trip in reverse with supplies in tow!

Is this the way to Amulo? (ZAM) (UK)

Leon Evans, a good friend of Hands and senior pastor at Zion Christian Centre in the UK, wrote about his recent trip to Zambia with Hands at Work on his blog.

"Is this the way to Amulo?" Sounds like a really annoying song that was out (again) a few years ago. Actually, it was what I found myself saying quite a lot in a car whilst bouncing on roads, that had more potholes than road, just outside Kitwe in the Copperbelt mining region in central Zambia.

My wife, Allison, and I had just left a conference hosted by Hands at Work, an amazing organisation - actually, more of a family - who support projects all across sub-Saharan Africa that are actively reaching and serving widows, orphans and vulnerable children. Now the conference was over and we were off to Amulo for a community stay: the chance to stay with a local household and spend 24 hours with a family.

Walking with Wounded Children (SA)

Julia Essmann and a Joy Home-Based Care care worker exchange stories

Emily Dinhira opens her Bible to Mark chapter 10 and starts teaching. Bartimaeus was blind man, rejected by his family, friends and community to the extent that his very name was an afterthought: Bar-timaeus literally means the Son of Timaeus. People knew about him. He was well-known as the community's beggar and as the story unfolds it is obvious that he was more of an annoyance than someone whose fate in life was met with compassion.

The day that Jesus came to town was no different: "When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'"

Emily pauses to ask some questions of her audience: A group of ten care workers at Joy Home-Based Care, congregated for a five-day course entitled Walking with Wounded Children. Do they know any blind people? Are the blind respected members of the community?

Care workers listen attentively to the Hands at Work course facilitatorsThe story continues and Emily talks about Jesus stopping and asking for the blind man to be brought to him, “'What do you want me to do for you?' Jesus asked him. The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.'” Why would Jesus ask such a question?

The morning's devotion sets the tone for the second day of the course. Emily, along with Betty Kasaija from Uganda and two other facilitators, presented the course on trauma to this group of care workers from a community-based organisation that Hands at Work supports.

True fasting (SWZ)

Alicia Ralph, a long-term volunteer from Canada, visited Swaziland earlier this year. Here she reflects on her encounter with a young family in the care of the local Swaziland team.

It was our last home visit of the day. The sun was low and the dry grass on the hills shone like spun gold.

We parked on the side of the dirt road, got out and starred way down the mountain at a tiny house in the valley. There, we had learned, two young boys – Dumiso, 14-years-old, and Ayanda, 13-years-old – lived with their sister. Their parents had passed away some years before and they were left to care for themselves.

As we started down the hill my mind was busy with so many questions: How did these boys get food? Did they go to school and, if so, how long did it take them to walk there? Hours, I imagined.

Facing Reality

"Shelly VanBinsbergen is from Saskatoon Canada, She is a Friend of Hands at Work and occasionally comes and visits and gets involved with the work. Last year Shelly VanBinsbergen took a team from her church to Mulenga, Zambia; she became friends with some of the Care Workers there and continues to have a close relationship with them. This is her reflection, after hearing news from her friends in Zambia”

This week I have been thinking about Zambia, a lot. I spent last week with some very good friends and it reminded me how there are places in one's life that can't be filled with anything but deep relationships.

The Woman of Courage (NIG)

Name changed to protect identity

Susan is a small woman with a very shy smile and a gentle demeanor. She speaks softly. Susan is 24 years old and has 3 children – ages 2, 4 and 6. She is HIV positive.

Her story is one of hardship and survival. In 2007, Susan was living happily with her husband and children. She never considered herself at risk for HIV until she began to notice the health of her youngest child, still an infant at the time, quickly deteriorating. While receiving medical treatment, she decided to have both herself and her youngest child tested. Needless to say, Susan was shocked to learn that both she and her baby had tested positive for HIV.

Shortly after discovering that their baby was sick, Susan’s husband abandoned her and has not returned since. It was during this time that she experienced the greatest of hardships. She could not afford to pay rent, water, or electricity bills. She decided to take her children and go and live with her mother, who herself is struggling to survive in

The Blood of Christ Covers Me (ZAM)

The ‘Jesus is Lord’ stenciled in green letters across the wall of his house indicates the attitude with which Daniel approaches life.  The 64-year-old, HIV-positive man doesn’t hesitate when asked about himself.  In strained but clear English, he concisely tells of his life.  He tells of the strong reaction he had to the ARVs he began taking two years prior, of the hard lesson that it is necessary to take food with the drug or your body will react negatively, even when there is little food to be found.  He tells of the difficulty of his experience with stigma, the devastation of being cast aside by family, friends and church, and the widespread misconceptions of the illness.  But the undeniable truth of the situation: “we have watched our friends die.”

A long journey has led to a profound clarity for this elderly man: that people need to share about their experiences with AIDS, to tell others how to care for themselves, because no one else will.  Daniel expresses the need and his desire to start support groups for people with HIV, so they can honestly share their knowledge about how to take care of themselves with one another.

In other areas of his life, it is clear that

A Deep Wound (SA)

Marcus, a young man of 17, grew up in circumstances that left him wondering if life was worth living. He nearly ended his life once but was rescued just in time. He has deep wounds and carries much sorrow, hatred and anger. Nobody knows what happened to his parents, nor does he speak of them; he spends most of his time alone and struggles to enjoy the company of his peers at school.

Marcus experiences constant mistreatment living with his relatives. They take advantage of him, knowing he has no one else to turn to. He has no certificate or form of identification. Many times they don’t give him food or care for him properly. Marcus feels angry, hurt and isolated.

A schoolteacher was the first to take notice of the reality of his situation when Marcus became a danger to himself. He was hurting inside. The teacher being friends with some of the trained care workers who were involved in the Care Center supported by Hands at Work quickly sort out help for Marcus.

Since February 2009, Marcus has received emotional counseling and food at the care center. Although he is still a long way from being healed, he is slowly recovering and finding meaning in this life. One can only hope that the sorrow and anger deep within him will one day be replaced with peace and enable him to live a full life.

Kikula (DRC)

The community of Kikula is located on the outskirts of the city of Likasi in the DRC. It is one of the poorest communities in the city and is composed of makeshift shantytowns and brick huts.

The streets in any part of Kikula are lined with mothers and babies, storefronts, buckets of maize and bundles of charcoal for sale. There are countless children wandering around; as far as the eye can see. The roads of the community are damaged beyond belief and only the bravest of drivers venture out into the sometimes impassable terrain.

Kashama sits on a rock in front of his house. He has a sandal with a broken strap in his hands and he appears to be mending the dusty and worn leather. Beside him is a pile of footwear that tells a similar story of misfortune. This is Kashama’s “business” and his source of income. As Kashama stands up to greet the care workers, the limp in his step and deformity in his appearance becomes apparent. He moves slowly and with care as he greets

The story of Busiku (ZAM)

In the vast rural village of Baraka we meet Busiku, a small ten year old girl. She is quiet, shy and very beautiful. She wears the same ragged dress every day to school; it is brown from dirt and is full of holes. It is the only dress she owns. She has lived with her grandparents since the age of seven when her parents abandoned her; she thinks they may be working in another province. Busiku cannot remember the last time she saw them. 

Busiku walks 3 miles to attend the local community school where she is in grade four, but when it rains she is not able to attend because the water level of the river makes it too dangerous. Absenteeism is a problem at the local community school which caters for 75 orphans and 45 vulnerable children; some children are too weary from hunger

The story of Mujinga (DRC)

In this modern world, education is one of the most important things in life. The simplest jobs such as being a maid or a waiter require a matriculation certificate.  So, what about those children who have no access to education, or who cannot afford education, what possible life could they lead and what work could they do that does not leave them vulnerable.

Mujinga a 17 year old girl was one of those girls who grew up with no education. Her parents could not afford to send her to school as they could hardly afford a good daily meal. Her mother is blind and spends her day sitting in the streets begging. Her father is disabled and cannot walk and has to spend his day sitting in the house mending shoes which is not profitable.  If, Mujinga was the only child, it would have been easier for her parents; she could have found something to do as well, but Mujinga is one of nine children and she is the oldest. Most of the responsibilities are put on her young shoulders. The family

Kristal's Experience

I spent just over a year and a half with Hands at Work in Africa.  The majority of my time was spent in South Africa, but I had the opportunity of spending a month in Zambia and two weeks in Nigeria.  The first 7 months of my time was spent teaching in a program for orphaned students in the community of Masoyi, South Africa.  This gave me the opportunity to get deep into the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in South Africa.  I slept many nights in rooms with up to 8 people, I walked and drove many kilometers, and I ate many chicken feet, I shook hands with and sat awkwardly in silence with many Grannies, I bought many loaves of bread, I heard many heart-breaking stories, and I cried many heart-broken tears.  It was such a privilege for me to spend myself on behalf of these students.  They are the funniest, most compassionate, most interesting people I've ever met.  I learned to love a self-less love.  It was never about me anymore.  It was about them.  It was about seeing them succeed and change Africa.  When I left Canada, a lot of my friends would tell people I'm away changing the world.  I wasn't changing the world.  I was supporting them, empowering them and enabling them to change the world.  When John speaks of Jesus in John Chapter 3, he says, "He must become greater, I must become less",  I found this also true of the people I was working with.  They must become greater and I must become less.  It's Africa's only hope

Update on Zambia

Mutende Home-Based Care (HBC) in Roan

In 2002 Gugu’s father died.  She was only 9-years old when her mother sent her to stay with her aunt.  When she returned to Luanshya 3 years later, Gugu was shocked to find that her whole world had changed.  She says, “At home we usually went to bed with empty stomachs or could only eat once a day.  I didn’t go to school because there was no one to sponsor or to buy school necessities for me.”  Since then, Mutende HBC has supported Gugu by providing food periodically to her family, by helping her to return to school, and by teaching her life skills.  “But for the help of Mutende HBC we managed to survive...I am very happy and grateful for what they do because if not for them, I don’t know what would have happened to my life.”   With your help, Hands at Work supports Mutende HBC and other similar community-owned initiatives through training, encouragement, and support for three essential services for orphaned and vulnerable children—basic health, food security, and education.

It was God's Plan for Me (MOZ)

When Gertrude was 6 years old her father died, leaving her mother to care for her and her 4 year old brother, Alexandre. “It was sad for us to lose our father,” Germena says. “It was difficult. No one was helping us, and my mother worked very hard in the fields to provide food for us. We did not have any money and many times we went to bed hungry. Without a father in the house we did not feel safe and were scared of other people to abuse us.”


Did we make a difference in Zambia or did Zambia make a difference in us?

In the summer of 2009, 16 nurses, all employed by Rosewood Care Centers traveled to Zambia to partner with Hands at Work on a medical mission in Kabwe.  Most of the nurses had not traveled outside the United States and took on this challenge by faith and with a bit of apprehension.  Once we arrived in Kabwe and met up with the Hands at Work Service Center workers we knew we were in good hands and that God had surely led us to this place for a purpose.

Each morning the nurses visited different schools and provided deworming medication along with age based HIV/AIDS education, bible stories, and instructions for dental hygiene.  Children received a toothbrush and toothpaste along with small toys, crayons, and various school supplies.  Badly needed blackboards were brought to the schools which delighted the teachers.  At the end of the week, the nurses hosted a teacher’s training session and luncheon. We provided some American dishes for the teachers to sample

A Step of Obedience (ZIM)

(Emily is the country representative for Zimbabwe and is always overjoyed by the growth of people as they take responsible for the orphans and the widows. This is a story of how one of pastors who we partner with, took a step of obedience in taking two orphans and caring for them without much to give except love.)

At the beginning of the year it was once again my privilege to travel to Zimbabwe, where I have been the contact person for the work that is happening in Zimbabwe for Hands at Work,

As I was driving up with a colleague, a lot was going  through my mind as I remember the experiences I had  the last time I was in Zimbabwe, and where I was challenged by the ladies I worked with.

There were a group of 23 women and 2 men all going to do Home Visits training.  We had all left the slum area of Sakubva where Hands is partnering with CBO [community based organization] called Tafara Christian care and led by Stuart.

The shared rooms were designed to accommodation single men that were working for the railways from neighbouring Mozambique and Malawi. A curtain was used to divide the rooms for some privacy. 

These rooms have now become home for many in Sakubva who are being trained for Home Visits training and shared with their families which include the men and women.  Many of these trainees are either single or widowed.  There are quite a number of these people who themselves are ill and are on treatment.