I was able to visit Masinenge, the closest settlement in our area, on Thursday, with a woman who has been ministering there for 8 years now. Shantytown is probably a better word for you to picture the place. This little town is home to about 7000 souls, and they are a very integral part of the statistics for South Africa, though I’m guessing the settlement stats are much more exaggerated than the national norm: 29-38.5% unemployment and 13-21% have AIDS, depending on what source you read, and about 60% of the children have absent fathers. AIDS and TB are rampant, but while we were visiting, the governmental public health service visited, following up on newly reported TB and AIDS cases, which gives one hope. My new friend, Shirley, has established, with the help of many generous people, a creche (nursery school), a soup kitchen that feeds 60 people a day, the ones who need help the most, such as AIDS patients on their own. Shirley and a small staff + volunteers also facilitate connections in many ways – youth meetings, medical needs, and job search training. This non-profit is called Abounding Hope Community Development and you can read about it by clicking this link Abounding Hope. I am hoping to put in some volunteer hours there however Shirley and Abounding Hope can fit me in. We are not sure that Roy will be able to do much in the way of encouraging tree planting and gardening, as the huts are so very close together. We’ll see, as there is a bit of a kitchen garden in the nursery school back yard. 7000 people in such close quarters is daunting, to say the least. It reminded me so much of the Fulani refugee camps in Cameroon, but we can move ahead one person at a time, one task at a time. We made a few home visits that day – please pray for Jimmy and Saziso, new believers, living on their own but not strong enough to work right now, as well as 11 yr old M. with AIDS and Lindelwe struggling to take care of her kids while very ill.
Learning to count at the nursery school. Kids are a delight anywhere, gifts from the Lord! Abounding Hope gives these children joy and hope and also full tummies each day!