One of the things our project leader, Dirk, likes to do with his teams is take an afternoon to serve locally outside of our design work for the project. If there is an existing ministry onsite this is easy, but in our case there was nothing happening yet and nothing nearby in Rustenburg. But one of the things we asked Gerhard to show us in Cape Town was some of the ways he has found to minister to his community.
We headed to Khayelitsha, a huge township just outside Cape Town. Khayelitsha is a Xhosa word meaning “new home,” which is just cruel when you consider that it was founded when all non-white South Africans were forcibly removed from their homes in the city at the outset of apartheid. Parts of the township contain older brick homes and clean streets. Our first stop was a preschool in a more disadvantaged area.
A bright yellow exterior with a rainbow on the wall greeted us, and children’s voices drifted out of the door. We were invited into the tiny space and could smell a yummy lunch that was just being served. The teachers wasted no time in showing us to seats so we could help feed the younger children. There were at least 20 of them staring back at us with huge eyes.
Our host, Fundile, told us of how the school seeks to serve these children by giving them a solid foundation for when they begin formal schooling. They also learn about Jesus and are fed a meal, for some, the only one they’ll get that day. The kids sang us a few of the songs they’ve learned and most were eager to sit on our laps and play. I had a good crowd pressing in to get photos then see them on the LCD playback.
Our next stop was to a similar venture, a small home where a few adults have pooled their resources to care for kids when they are not in school. Most have parents who work long hours and they would be unsupervised. They need help with their school work and solid role models. The folks running the center are no better off financially than any of their neighbors. They just saw a need and decided to do something about it.
Our final visit was to Mama Enid. She cares for 12 orphans in her tiny one-story home. Enid is registered as a non-profit and receives a small stipend to help, but she needs additional space for the children to have room to study. Gerhard and a friend, Anthony, have designed a second floor addition to her home and are working to raise funds for the construction. She told us her story and her love for the Lord and for the kids was evident as the tears streamed down her face. Mana Enid grew up without parents, too.
I love when I encounter these people who are doing these things to bring hope and change. There are all the big organizations you hear about, but for each of them there are hundreds going quietly about the small things in front of them, with no recognition, no awards, sometimes little to no funding. And they keep pressing on.
You can’t make the world a better place. It’s rotten to the core and will be until the Lord returns to redeem it. But it is possible to make someone’s world brighter, and I love when we meet the people who are doing that.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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