“Our children saw the stark difference between our comfortable lifestyle and wealth and the hardship and poverty that the people of Mcheneke Community, Malawi, live with daily. They also saw the difference in attitude between their own complaining and discontent hearts and the joyful, grateful hearts of the Care Workers and children that they met, despite their impoverished conditions.”
Jakob and Candece share their personal reflections on how the five weeks of orientation at the Hands at Work Hub in South Africa and four-week placement at a local Hands at Work office have helped to shape their understanding of what it means to serve the most vulnerable and give of themselves even if it personally costs them.
At that point I was a Christian and was going to the Apostolic Faith Mission Church. Farai Gunhe (African Volunteer, Zimbabwe) was my youth leader, along with another lady, which is when I started hearing about Hands at Work and the work that Farai was involved with. He did invite me to join but I just didn’t think I had the gifts it took to serve the most vulnerable. However, it encouraged me when Farai kept pursuing me – he must have seen something in me.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5
Through serving and working with different people, I am a changed person. Not just in the communities, but in my family. I am a leader at my church because of the things that I have gone through and now people can trust me. If I was where I had been, than maybe I wouldn’t be alive, but God saved my life. That's why I also want to serve, to give life to other people.
Tina and her siblings were struggling with their health when they were discovered by the local volunteer Care Workers from the Maisha Community Based Organisation (CBO). Initially, Tina couldn’t play, and rarely smiled. Her hair was falling out, her belly was protruding and her feet were swollen; all symptoms that she was severely malnourished.
Through serving with Hands at Work, I have learned what it means to forgive. A few years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to forgive my auntie and pray a prayer of forgiveness. I was able to talk with her and release the bitterness and bondage that I had in my heart. Afterwards I felt joy and a new sense of connection with her.
“I recall that when I came back from my family's six week trip to South Africa in 2011, I promised that I would remember the orphans every day — that I would not take what God has blessed me with for granted. But six years later, my friends and I were struggling to make this fundraiser a reality. Our priorities were focused on our individual universes that orbited around shallow, temporary things that should not have been guiding our lives.”
A relative of Kayin’s took advantage of his already vulnerable situation, using him to work for far too small a wage which proved insufficient to provide the family with enough food and basic necessities. Morufa Taiwo, a Care Worker from the Apatuku CBO, who lives nearby to Kayin, was quick to involve the other Care Workers when she recognised the extent of the challenges that life was throwing his way.
In February 2017, Emerance, a dedicated local volunteer Care Worker, from the Maisha Community Based Organisation (CBO) was passing by the fields and noticed four young children working in the field and Liu laying lifeless in her great-grandmother’s lap; helpless and severally malnourished. Emerance acted out of compassion and urgency and took the children directly to the Care Point, so they could receive a meal that day. She knew that if they did not eat, there was a possibility that they would not survive.
Before he could even walk, Agnes would carry him on her back and he would look on as she cultivated her small plot of land, often working for 12 hours a day. Today, eight-year-old Jonah accompanies his grandmother to her field when he is not in school. He plays his part in helping his grandmother to secure their future.
In early 2015, while visiting children on Holy Home Visits, Care Workers came across Clement and his siblings once again. The children were begging for food and the four of them looked malnourished and unwell. The loving Christ-like hearts of the Care Workers compelled them to follow the children back to their home and find out more about their situation.
At 10 years old, Xiluva* has faced challenges that no child should ever have to face. When her father passed away in 2010, Xiluva was living with her mother and three siblings in Mudzidzi, Mozambique. When her mother remarried in early 2016, she took the children to the community of Macadeira and abandoned them with their ageing grandmother, Orpa*. Xiluva’s world fell apart.
The most significant photos to us are not always the most professional or even most beautiful images. They are the ones, however, that take us back to a moment that changed our lives.