Compassion in Action

 

January 3rd  with the festive season still in full swing we are called upon to serve:  It is JOHANNESBURG BY NIGHT! By 9.30pm Josef the chairman of Family Care Ministries finished a tour of Johannesburg  with Soweto, Roodeport and Florida, places you wouldn’t want to have a car break down, especially at night, dropping of 31 crates of food to needy families. Their eyes were almost as big as the crates of fresh fruit, vegetables, pastries, snacks, sweets and some meat. Their  grateful hugs warmed my heart. We had a large pick up and our one household refrigerator is way too small, so it had to go. God’s gift is God’s work.

Man shall not live by bread alone: Well, bread is important and the HIV positive folks we serve need it to take it with their medication and the school holidays makes no different to the kids that are hungry, they’re even more hungry since they have no school lunch. Josef traveled over 300km and delivered 160 loaves of bread to @ 50 families in 3 townships. He fixed a computer, prayed for people, helped with transport money for job interview. He always make it a point to leave them with some gospel pamphlets and many are asking for extras to share with their friends. We need food for the soul as well. Bread feeds the stomach but the word of God feeds souls and spirit. Family Care Ministries is here to help.

Call for help on Saturday:   RRRRRing! “Please come and collect 800kg of potatoes, they’re in a 1000kg bag loose & you have to shovel them out.”  Josef the chairman is the only driver and off he goes with crates and trailer. After 8 hours of delivering potatoes in 3 township to needy families, 3 feeding programs & 1 old age complex he finally finished at 8pm. On the way he prayed with the recipients, passed out gospel tracts and shared some hugs. We’ve read that 8 hugs a day keeps the blues away. Well, we like to contribute to the well being of our recipients and feed their souls as well as body.

Abram volunteer and Creche owner in Diepsloot:  All is well and allow me to inform you that it feels so good every time people leave my centre with plastics full of food which you provide from Woolworths on fortnight basis.  I enjoy so much to pack their carry bags with delicious healthy food. Over 10 families are benefiting from the Woolworths supply. Thanks to you and the Great Lord who planted generous love into your heart.
It doesn’t end there, the supply of breads from Albany which I also collect on fortnight basis helps 9 ECD’s including mine where each ECD get up to 15 loaves of breads. On top of that there are 15 families benefiting from the supply of breads. Where each family gets from 2-3 loaves of breads.
Thank God some poor families in Diepsloot manage to put food on the table due to your love and great efforts.
Just today, the staff members at my school are all dressed in new T shirts that looks the same. Thanks to the provision of clothes and toys for the kids. We are overwhelmed by your undying love.
Keep on making changes in people’s lives especially the poor in the poverty stricken township of Diesplsoot.    Kind regards,  Abram Kgari

We’re encouraged to find in the midst of darkness, poverty and violence little lights shining for Jesus. One such little light is Grandma Helen (76), she can hardly see and uses crutches to walk but she glows with the light of Jesus and brings it to her neighbors and regularly feeds the poor with the food and gospel pamphlets we provide.

Our oldest recipient is Sister Glover who is 86 and still going strong working in the garden and serving the community with prayer and food. It is a privilege to serve them and the many lights in the townships who do what they can to bring the light and love of Jesus to the physically and often spiritually impoverished. In the midst of darkness those lights shine even brighter.

Without a vision …

Over the past few months I have been going to Orange Farm to hold training workshops for teachers from crèches, many of them working in nothing but corrugated tin shacks.

Initially many of the principals attended. They got so inspired and envisioned that they now send their staff one by one to learn. Aside from sharing with them about the children’s needs in different areas of development, I spend time explaining about the importance of a child’s early learning experiences. Here are a couple of the key facts about child development that I share with them, that never seems to fail to envision them.

  • No matter what race or colour, every child has 100 billion brain cells at birth. The brain, the body’s most vital and complex organ, matures after birth. A child’s brain potential is not entirely predetermined in the womb.
  • How smart the child is or isn’t has little to do with how educated the mother or the parents of the child are. It has to do with how many opportunities the child is given after birth to explore and experiment through play.
  • What children do and are exposed to in the early years affects their development; it affects how well their brain will function.
  • ½ of the foundation for problem solving, analytical thinking, memory etc. are laid in the first five years of a child’s life.
  • The brain is like a muscle. If you use a muscle it grows bigger and stronger. A connection in the brain that is used will be stronger. A connection that is not used will grow weaker and the brain will discard it.

Learning facts like these fuels hope in their hearts and a realization that they can play a part to change the future of children growing up in townships like theirs where some of the basic infrastructure is still missing. Through pouring into the children in their care they can play a part in giving them a brighter future. The responses are similar each time:

Thank you for the opportunity. It was truly inspiring, motivating, joyful, exciting and loving. God bless you. Keep up with the good work. Don’t give up. Let’s change the world.

Don’t go forever. You make us feel proud of what we are doing.

You really made my day today. You make me love children so deeply again.

First of all I enjoyed being in your workshop and learned more things that I have never known.

I say as from today I want to improve my centre and kids because this opportunity is not for fun, it is a serious responsibility.

This workshop has been a real eye opener for me because it made me see things that I did not know about. It made me to know what children are like. It really helped me and I am really grateful for it.

Each time I am asked to please continue with further workshops. The Lord has shown me that I need to put together a curriculum for them to follow with simple learning activities to give them something to work with. I have made a lot of headway in putting it together, but there is still lots to do. I am praying that the Lord will make a way to print and produce some teaching materials and flashcards at a very reasonable price. They have so little to work with and it would help the program to leave more of an impact in the lives of these precious children. Each one is special to the Lord and deserves the best care. 

Teacher Training Workshops

Talitha recently received a request to share her experience and expertise with a group of preschool teachers and principals in the Orange Farm township. Having worked for years with young children, it was not difficult to put the needed material together based on the knowledge and training she had received in the different teaching techniques and learning methods in use.

Within a few days the Lord had opened a door for a venue through a local NPO who offers adult basic training. They had a container already set up and equipped with all that would be needed to host the workshop and were willing to support the effort. With PowerPoint presentation, projector, screen, hand-outs and samples of teaching aids to make in hand, we were in business.

Due to the interference of a local service delivery protest, we had to hastily change the date a few hours before the workshop was scheduled. This resulted in some of the interested teachers of crèches operating in the area not being able to making it for the newly set date. Despite this we still had 15 teachers and principals in attendance.

Talitha laid out all the important reasons and discussed the desperate need for focus on early learning and development. Many of the problems experienced by teachers in South Africa can be traced back to the lack of input the children receive in their early years when the foundation for learning are laid. Though this need has become more and more evident, little direction or support is provided to crèches in particular to the many non-accredited ones. This leaves the vast majority of caregivers clueless as how to give children the best possible start in life. 

Gross and fine motor skills development, sensory stimulation and language development were the main areas that Talitha presented methods of teaching and ideas for. Each of the attendees got a hand-out with scores of ideas. Due to financial constraints there is little access to resources of any kind. The R160-180 per child collected from the parents don’t go far enough to feed the children two meals per day for the whole month and pay the meagre salaries of the caregivers. So little is invested in resources.

We had brought some teaching aids that Talitha had made out of household materials. She showed how with relatively little in the way of resources a lot can be done to aid fine motor skills development in children. Out came the muffin trays for sorting, the noodles and shoelaces to string them on, the clothes pins to be pegged to plastic containers and other materials to teach practical life skills or stimulate a young child.

The highlight of the workshop was the presentation of a method developed by Glenn Doman the founder of the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. With the aim to increase, develop and expand language, improve cognitive skills and strengthen both the long-term and photographic memory, this method uses pictures cards to teach children classified and structured knowledge. The principles of this teaching method can be applied to learning to read sight words and mathematics as well. We went over all the details of the program and will in future workshops dedicate a session to creating some of these materials so that each of the teachers gains practical experience in the use and making of these teaching aids.

The response and reaction was very positive and the workshop was an encouragement to all those who were able to make it. For the time being we are scheduling and hosting this workshop on a monthly basis. To aid teachers and crèches further, we are busy creating material that we will offer to them at cost price. The greatest challenge is lamination and colour printing cost. If you are able to support this project in any way, we would be grateful.

Christmas Activities 2012

Christmas is the one time the world is compelled to recognise Jesus as the day of His birth is remembered! He was born into poor and humble circumstances much like the billion children living in poverty today. He came to show love to the downtrodden, show love to all and to bring a gift of infinite worth, eternal life. What a privilege and wonderful time to share with others what Jesus came for. Christmas offers new hope and new courage which is so sorely needed in the darkness that prevails in the world.

Family Care Ministries volunteers want, more than anything else, touch lives and reflect the love that He has brought into our own lives in a tangible way. So our focus for the yearend was to spend time with the children, young people and elderly.

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Bottled up?

Family Care Ministries has been supplying Bible Course materials and courses to inmates for the past seven years here in South Africa. Below are some comments they have made that give a little glimpse into their lives.

As we read and meditate on the Word, as we believe His promises and claim them as our own, we find that wonderful things await us. The warm sunshine of His love melts away tension. Like a breath of fresh air, the breeze of God’s Spirit clears our minds. We see things from the heavenly perspective and see new possibilities and challenges before them. We find new faith and inspiration. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)

Learn to turn to the Word when you feel bottled up, and His Word will set you free. (John 8:31,32)

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Passage to freedom

God’s love and forgiveness are amazing. Though we as humans are bound to make wrong choices, God still loves us. It saddens Him when we willfully do wrong, but He doesn’t hold it against us if we are sincerely sorry. Instead, He extends His arms in forgiveness. We may still have to live with the consequences of our wrongdoing, but once we ask Him for forgiveness, He forgives.

“As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11,12) Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

The following comments were made by inmates that are participating in Family Care Ministries Bible Study Courses at correctional institutions in South Africa. Lives change when we face our past and find in Jesus a new beginning.

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Upcoming Christmas Party for the elderly

Last year’s Christmas party was such a success and great fun for the elderly that they have been asking us on our monthly visits whether we will hold another event for them this year. Friends of ours, who run food programs for school children and the elderly in nearby areas, will join us in the effort and have helped secure the Jan Hofmeyer community hall for the event which will take place on December 10th.  Everything becomes easier and doable when we all pull together for the many needs from tables to chairs, decor, dishes and gifts.

Valverde Country Hotel has so generously offered to provide the food. Elize will bring the salads. Talitha and Josef will sponsor the coffee, tea and juice. Others will provide the cakes. Alain and Patricia are arranging for prizes for a draw and will keep everyone entertained.

Aside from preparing a meaningful program, we’re putting together a small gift hamper with a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, face cloth, a chocolate to keep them sweet and a Christian magazine to provide foor the spiritual needs. For this we need YOUR HELP.

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Urgent Need

We will be having two Christmas parties again this year for approximately 400 children in Orange Farm and Everton West, two townships about 40km south of Johannesburg. Preparations are in full swing. We will play games and give the kids an opportunity to decorate a Christmas tree while learning what the holiday is all about. We know the events will be much appreciated as the high unemployment rate in these areas (80%) has a big impact on families leaving little if anything for the children. Every bit of help can make a difference.

We would like to give each child something that lasts and is needed like the stationary sets (R12 or R5) below and a colouring book that includes Christian, character-building stories (R5). We will also need to buy hot dogs, buns, juice and snacks for each. We urgently need donations to cover these costs, which amount to a total of about R10,000 ($1127), R25 per child! Thank you for considering to help. Please see our bank and paypal account details below.

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Into all the world …

We would like to give a little report of our trip to Malawi this July 2012. Our team consisted of Josef (Austrian), Talitha (German), Abram (South African) and Gracious (Malawian). We saw soon how each of us would bring his/her own gifts and talents to the table to make this mission trip a success. We travelled with our bakkie through Zimbabwe and Mozambique, a journey which took us 3 days.

From the onset of this year the work among the youth in Malawi had grown by leaps and bounds spreading to various parts of the country. We felt the need to make this trip to meet the youth and workers in the various cities to assess the situation and needs.  Most of the Activated Youth Clubs are in Lilongwe, the capital city. Others are in Mzuzu in the very north of Malawi and others yet in or near the cities of Zomba, Mangochi and Salima which are located along Lake Malawi.

It was truly an experience and very inspiring to visit the different cities and outlying areas and get to know many of those that had joined recently. If we can equip and train the youth to reach the cities and villages around, then we are reaching the whole of Malawi. What an inspiring vision!

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Reaching the Youth of Malawi

Pastor Hanock Simenti, from Global Gospel Assembly Church

My heart and spirit convicts me to write to you to testify of the benefits of Activated and what it is doing for us here in Malawi. Before I got to know the Activated Club I was regarding it as simple. Now I am surprised at how powerful it is and see its importance. As pastor I have special times to sit down with the youth encouraging them in spiritual matters. I inquired about the benefits and achievements the youth found in the Activated Clubs. I would like to share the testimonies that they told me and what they get from participating. May I beg you to read with close attention about some of the factual benefits.

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Family Care Ministries is registered as a Non-profit Organization in terms of the Non-profit Organization Act, 1998     Number: 007-316