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.
Late last week and through the weekend Cyclone Idai hit South Eastern Africa. What initially looked like a bad storm has turned into disaster for tens of thousands of people, affecting Malawi first with floods, then Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
It is said to be the worst ever weather related disaster to strike the southern hemisphere according to the UN.
Throughout the past few weeks I have had a number of opportunities to walk alongside our African brothers and sisters as they tirelessly fight for justice (making wrong things right) in their own communities. I have witnessed them being Jesus’ hands and feet. Running headlong into the darkness. Bringing the true ‘light’ to the darkest of places.
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Prudence shares her story and the journey that has led her to fully trust and serve in South Africa.
When Nicholas* was just five years old, both of his parents tragically died in the same year, leaving him in the care of an uncle. His uncle was emotionally and physically abusive but with no one else to turn to, Nicholas was trapped in his home. His uncle refused to pay school fees so Nicholas was unable to attend school. Nicholas’ Aunt Mildred* visited the family and was appalled by Nicholas’ physical and emotional state.
Today I met Sarra*. A mother of three, who lost her husband sixteen years ago. Left as a widow, her husband’s brother came in and “claimed her”. He used her solely for sex, and she bore two of his children in the subsequent years. He took no responsibility for her or her children, and has now completely abandoned them.
Care Workers are the key in bringing healing and transformation to the lives of our children. They are men and women from the local churches within our communities who recognize their Biblical mandate and answer their call to care for the most vulnerable children. They demonstrate what it means to give freely, love unconditionally, and sacrifice everything. Often, Care Workers face their own traumas and live in dire poverty, just as the children they care for do, but their determination to persevere and care despite their own circumstances challenges everyone they come into contact with. They are greatest in the Kingdom of God!
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Farai tells his story of following Jesus in Zimbabwe, and how compassion for the poor and a desire to mobilise the local church has defined his life.
Jade joined Hands at Work in February as a volunteer from Australia, committed to serving in Africa for one year. After orientation in South Africa she travelled to Zimbabwe where she spent one month building relationships with the team of local leaders, and gaining a deeper understanding of the vision and heart of Hands at Work.
Abandoned by his father, four-year-old Tawanda was left to stay in a small shack in Sakubva with his mother, Shorai, and his two brothers. In February 2013, Tawanda’s father returned to the household and, in a terrifying act, set fire to it. What little food, clothing and blankets the family owned were completely destroyed. The family was left with nothing, save the clothes they were wearing. A neighbour in their community allowed the desperate family to stay in her small, oneroomed home until they found another place to stay. There was already a family living here, but it was all Tawanda, his mother and brothers had. They currently all sleep on the same bed. Tawanda and his family face huge challenges.
They cannot afford food, clothes or school fees. In order for them to just survive, Shorai has to cut down and sell firewood – back-breaking work for just a few dollars.
Tawanda and his brothers were found by the Care Workers from Sakubva Christian Caring Trust in 2012. The Care Workers heard their story and wanted to respond in love. They brought the children to the Care Point in the hope that they could bring some life and light into their lives. The children are now attending the Sakubva Care Point each day for a nutritious meal and to connect with the Care Workers and play with other children. The Care Point in Sakubva is a hub of activity at the moment: a Care Centre is under construction, enabling the Care Workers to provide holistic care to their vulnerable children. It is a noisy, welcoming and a nurturing environment for children like Tawanda to attend.
Angeline, one of Sakubva’s Care Workers has been running education classes for Tawanda, his older brother and other children who do not currently attend school. She does this in preparation for the children to eventually attend formal school. At present, Tawanda is learning how to count to 20 and to write his name. Christine, another Care Worker visits Tawanda and his family twice each week. She assists them with any work that needs to be done in their house but also listens and prays with them. Christine has brought hope to the whole family by her very presence.
When Sakubva Community Based Organisation recently received a donation of clothes and blankets, Tawanda and his brothers received clothing and a blanket each. It has been a huge blessing to the family. After receiving these items, Shorai told the Care Workers that she has seen God working so clearly in her life –in His provision for her and her children, and through the love and care of the Sakubva Care Workers.
In the past we have done two conferences, both in South Africa. An Africa conference with our African service center partners and an international conference with our African partners and many international churches and donors as well.
This year instead of having the conferences in just South Africa we will be holding four regional conferences that will be open to anyone interested in attending. The Hands at Work family is growing at a rapid rate which means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get everyone to South Africa. This means we can bring the conferences closer to home for the Service Centres involved, also allowing our international visitors flexibility and possibly allow them to attend in the country of their interest. In the past we have only been able to have a very small number of community based organizations (CBO) representatives present. By holding regional conferences it will also enable greater CBO participation and give more people exposure to the vision of Hands at Work.
The conference schedule is as follows:
South Africa & Swaziland | March 24-27 | Hands at Work in Africa near White River, South Africa
Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo & Malawi | April 15-18 | Luanshya, Zambia
Mozambique & Zimbabwe | April 22-25 | TBD
Nigeria | May 20-23 | Lagos, Nigeria
We are excited about the new opportunities that hosting regional conferences will bring. All are welcome to come and be a part of the different regional conferences. If you are interested in attending or helping fund the conferences please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View more of last year's conference in photos
We successfully ran a training workshop for the care workers in Sakubva, which has subsequently resulted in improved relationship building between the care workers, OVCs and patients/primary guardians. The training was also successfully closed with a ceremony that saw the caregivers being awarded with medical aid kits. We managed to invite local authorities, including the Councillor for the Sakubva ward, the Deputy Director of the Mutare City Health Department, one of our trustees, Dr. Geoff Foster, and our country representative, Emily Dinhira, all of whom were present and spoke at the ceremony.