Tie-dye, beach camps and mangers

So, in the midst of this week of mourning the passing of Tata Nelson Mandela, we at iThemba packed up and headed down to the beach for three days for iThemba teens camp. Which I think Madiba would have liked.

We spend weeks and weeks preparing for camp. We spend time praying. We cut, and stick, and make decorations, and google fun games, and pack, and pray, and hope all the teens get sponsored, and go shopping for tons of supplies, and pray, and then… we show up and hope that God shows up, too. 

And God did show up this camp. (Well, I mean, he’s always with us, but sometimes we can’t see it or feel it and camp is one of those times where you really want everyone to know he’s there). And he was. He was present in the big things and the small things– like tie-dye shirts. 

 

It was my idea, and I’d done it a few times before. With a KIT that had easy pre-mixed dyes and step-by-step instructions that made, like, one shirt. But Google told me it is very easy to tie-dye and I was a sucker and believed it, and thought it would be the perfect idea for a teen craft. Then we get to camp and I read the dye packets we bought, and they told me that we need 7 liters of boiling water per item of clothing and each packet could only dye one shirt (and  being the maths genius that I am I realized we only had 10 packets and 50 teens and so I started to freak out a little. Okay a lot. Internally. )

But we mixed up the dye, the teens dyed them and we let them sit overnight. None of the teens had ever tie-dyed before. Which was great because they didn’t know how it was supposed to end up, but  horrible because if their first and only tie-dye experience was an epic fail their whole concept of tie-dying would be forever ruined. You think I’m making a mountain out of a mole-hill, but when I explained to the teens we’d put the shirts in bags overnight, then rinse them out and take them home in the morning, one teen looked up from where he was dipping his shirt in some dye. “What? You mean we get to take these home?” I nodded. “Oh THANK YOU Auntie Steph!! Wow!! This is so great!!”  (see what I mean? Pressure, people. I don’t want to be responsible for crushing this poor teen’s joy when all the dye just rinses out of his shirt).

The moment of truth came the next morning. The teens scattered across the campsite to find taps to rinse out their shirts. Here’s how they looked:

three tie

 

It worked! I was SO happy! And relieved! And it was just MAGICAL seeing the teens unwrap the rubber bands and open their shirts, then exclaim excitedly at how they looked. The teens were laughing and comparing patterns and colors, so, so proud of what they’d made. (One teen said hers looked like it came straight from a Mr Price clothing store).  Standing there in the sunshine (after two rainy days of camp) seeing the teens in their bright, happy, hippie shirts, hi-fiving each other and complimenting their work, and just having fun being teens (knowing that some of their lives are really, really hard at home) made me sniffle a little and send up a quick, “Thank you God!” prayer.

sizwegroup And if I can start sniffling over the fact that the tie-dye shirt craft worked out, don’t even get me started on 50 teens belting out worship songs, or having the opportunity to pray with teens whose hearts needed God’s healing love, or the small groups leaders who gave 110% to their groups, or the teen who wants to meet with Thulani today so he can understand more about how Shembe* is different to Jesus, or the fact that on this camp we had teens we’ve worked with for years finally open up about the trauma, abuse, and difficult home lives they have… and it was just three days.

It’s Advent. The time we sit in waiting, thinking about the day when Christ will come. And it’s been a great but sometimes a long year for us at iThemba. Other people handle it better than I do (and I’m not even working directly with these kids!) but sometimes the corruption and rottenness in the economic and social system, the spiritual darkness, the horrible pain and suffering that these kids and teens experience really just weighs us down. We know God is with us, that he’s always present, but sometimes we just want him to really show up and make all things new right now

This camp I was reminded of the privilege I have of serving a God who is real, and listens to our prayers and groans, and shows up where we least expect it (but have secretly been longing for)–in tie-dye shirts and beach camps and mangers.

group tie

 

*Shembe is a Zulu cult with a strong presence in Sweetwaters. They belive a man named Isaiah Shembe was the Zulu Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How you can personally impact a teen from Sweetwaters

teens logo ideas

 

Yes, folks, it’s heading into that time of year again… CAMP TIME! Every year, iThemba takes 50 kids in June, and 50 teens in December to the beach for a 3-day camp. Here are a whole bunch of reasons why teens camp this December is so cool:

  • All of these teens are awesome. I mean, a lot of them are doing really awesome things with their lives, like working super hard in school so they can go to college, like chosing to make the right choice (even though its hard) when it comes to drugs, alcohol and premarital sex, like still taking their ARVs every single day, like picking up an extra job to help bring in some cash for their families, like looking after younger siblings, like volunteering on a Saturday to help with our Saturday kids clubs…and even if they’re not doing any of those things…they are still awesome.
  • Related to the point above, some of them have really stressful lives (way more stress than I ever had!) and a three day break where they can just be a teen, can goof off, can have someone else pour into them rather than always being the one to give out… that’s pretty cool.
  • Some of these kids/teens have never been to the beach before…and that makes sense if you live in Kansas, or Minnesota, but not if you live in Sweetwaters, where the beach is just an hour away.
  • Some of these teens have never begun a relationship with Jesus, and a 3-day camp might be the place that relationship begins.
  • Some of these teens know and love Jesus, but they’re slipping into complacency, or they’re worn out, or they feel like Jesus isn’t paying attention to them…a 3-day camp might be the revival that they need right now.
  • We have the BEST small group leaders EVER coming on this camp. We usually have great small group leaders, but our leaders this year are AMAZING. And I know for a fact that they will be constantly loving on these teens, constantly listening to them, constantly encouraging them, constantly showing Jesus to them… they’ll eat with them, sleep in the same dorms as them, do every single activity with them… they are going to be great.
  • It’s not one of those camps where you have a great time then *poof!* you go home and it’s all over. A lot of our small group leaders are iThemba staff. So this is one of those camps where your camp leader actually is working in your community and you can continually reconnect with them throughout the year. Real follow-up can happen!
  • We are going to have SO MUCH FUN. I admit, I am biased, since I worked with Thulani, Wendy and Bex on the programme, but I know, this is going to be a super FUN camp.

And I know you’re thinking right now… HOW CAN I SPONSOR EVERY TEEN?? Well, that’d be a little crazy. But go ahead if you want. 🙂 The teens pay a small amount towards the cost of camp, so sponsors from all over the world gather together to pay the full cost for the teens. This cost covers transport, all the activites and crafts, a Bible, a toiletry pack, meals… EVERYTHING. 

PLUS… you’ll get a photo of the teen you sponsor so you can remember to pray for them, and they’ll get a chance to write you a letter from camp.

Here’s how you can sponsor a teen. The cost is $90, or R700 or 60 pounds.

IN THE USA: Go to http://www.restorationhope.org and donate. Or click here. Make sure you put in a reference that it is for TEENS CAMP (you might have to put it under “General Donation” and send that info in a seperate email if they don’t give you that option). Or write a check made out to Restoration Hope, and enclose a note with your name, email/post address, and stating it’s for teens camp. If you’re really worried they won’t remember it’s for camp, you can always email me, and I’ll really, really make sure. 🙂

In the UK, use this link

IN RSA: You can do an EFT straight into our account:

iThemba Trust Sweetwaters, First National Bank, Bank Street Branch code 22 08 25, Cheque account number 62154 083 407, SWIFT code (international deposits) – FIRNZAJJ, Reference – Teens Camp and YOUR SURNAME

Just shoot me an email if you have any questions. Guys, I think this is one of the best ways you can use your money. For reals.

Linking Communities

The volunteers at one of the Holiday clubs
The volunteers at one of the Holiday clubs

One of the things that gets me excited is seeing the community of Hilton intersted in partnering with their neighbours in Sweetwaters to reach this community. This time last year we ran a holiday club –a little like a vacation Bible school, for you Americans 🙂 — and we had three volunteers from Pietermaritzburg who helped us. They were AMAZING.

This year, we ran TWO holiday clubs simultaneously, on different sides of the community so we could reach more kids. We split the iThemba staff in half, and hoped (prayed!) we would get enough volunteers to make these clubs happen! And God answered our prayers!

Two tigers give a roar. The kids loved the facepainting... yet another thing we couldn't have done if we didn't have enough volunteers
Two tigers give a roar. The kids loved the facepainting… yet another thing we couldn’t have done if we didn’t have enough volunteers
One of our teen volunteers from Sweetwaters "takes one for the team". Kids got to throw wet sponges at their leaders, and if they got a hit, they recieved one word of the memory verse. Once all the pieces of the verse were collected, the first team to memorize it won.
One of our teen volunteers from Sweetwaters “takes one for the team”. Kids got to throw wet sponges at their leaders, and if they got a hit, they recieved one word of the memory verse. Once all the pieces of the verse were collected, the first team to memorize it won.

At each club we had at least eight volunteers on any given day. Some of these volunteers were from schools in Pietermaritzburg, and some were from Trinty Church in Hilton, where David and I attend. We also had volunteers from Sweetwaters– teenagers who help out with our Saturday Kids Club and Life Groups came to lend a hand as well. And we certainly needed all the volunteers–we had over two hundred children at one club, and about one hundred at the other. Needless to say,we would not have coped with two hundred kids if it was just four of us iThemba staff trying to run the club!

Volunteer Sarah, from Trinity, in the sea of children during song time. :)
Volunteer Sarah, from Trinity, in the sea of children during song time. 🙂

It is so amazing for me to see how God is working and moving in both Sweetwaters and Hilton/Pietermaritzburg, bringing people together to accomplish his work. Our theme this year was “Wipeout” and we looked at stories of forgiveness in the Bible– Joseph, Jesus, and Simon the Pharisee. Join us in praying these kids not only had a fun time with crafts, games, and songs, but learned something about Jesus, too.

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Of course, me and my buddy Aphile. 🙂

Asidlale–Siyazama Creche

Here’s a video I made to be sent out as a thank you to the people who help support Asidlale, our Early Childhood Education programme. I thought since I talk so much about these creches and kids, you might like to watch a 1min 30s clip of them. 🙂

Also, for those of you who are following this and are the praying kind– today is the start of 3 days of prayer and fasting for iThemba and the work in Sweetwaters. I have a prayer guide for the three days, just click here to view it: prayer guide August 2013.

Thank you for joining us in what God is doing in the community! 🙂

One Year

Mbubu mountain (also called Swartkop). This is the hill that is in the painting I use for my banner. :) It is the hill that overlooks all of Sweetwaters/Mpumuza
Mbubu mountain (also called Swartkop). This is the hill that is in the painting I use for my banner. 🙂 It is the hill that overlooks all of Sweetwaters/Mpumuza

I can’t believe that David and I have been here for one year already! It’s been a wonderful, exciting year–sometimes difficult, but always good. Here are some moments I have loved about being in South Africa and working with iThemba:

  • The moment when kids stopped excitedly waving and shouting “Mlungu, mlungu” (white person) when I drive through Sweetwaters, and instead shout, “Steph! Steph!
  • Also, that one time when I was at kids club and a new child said something about “her mlungu” (meaning me) and this other four-year old very primly said, “No, that’s not your mlungu, that’s Steph.”
  • Speaking of my name, I always enjoy people calling me “Steve” because they can’t pronounce Steph. And when iThemba staff call me Thandi, my Xhosa name, that makes me smile, too.
  • Every day that I get to drive in these beautiful rolling hills— whether they are green in summer or brown in winter, they are just amazing.
  • Finishing a project: Whether it’s the new volunteers manual and prezi, or writing a really good thank you note to a funder, or updating the iThemba blog…I love that feeling when I’m done with something and can be proud of what I made.
  • The first fifteen minutes of every day when people are all arriving at the office, laughing and chatting and finding out how everyone’s husbands, wives and babies are doing.
  • Any time I get to work with my buddies Thulani and Sizwe— they really are like the big brothers I always wanted, and they always are so encouraging and make me laugh. Their commitment to their work and to the kids is so inspiring. And also Wendy, Gugu, and Mashinini and…basically, all the iThemba staff are amazing!!
  • Worship on kids camp. Hearing all those kids singing is just…wow.
  • Hearing from “iThemba team alumni” who are now doing cool things with their lives, or hearing how working in South Africa with iThemba has changed them.
  • Seeing God working. Seeing hope planted. Seeing slow changes in people’s lives.
  • Seeing how God has provided every step of the way…I had 4 months of mono, David had 4 months with out a job, we had car-break downs… and yet it when we were going through it all, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. It’s more like looking back I’m astounded at how peacefully and joyfully we came through those challenges– and I know that is only because I was surrounded with the love and prayers from people like you all!
  • I love getting to tell people about iThemba, and just how cool what they are doing is. That is one of my favorite things.
  • I love that I can just be me. I often feel like I don’t quite “fit”– I didn’t feel like I “fit” in college, and sometimes now with my Hilton friends, I don’t feel like I “fit”– but when I’m hanging out with iThemba staff, playing with kids in Sweetwaters, getting to totally embarass myself doing silly dances, getting to sing with people who actually sing louder than I do– I just feel so comfy and so happy and so content.
  • I love that I can be a part of a group of people that I am so, so proud of. I love that I can go to work and KNOW that I am going to do something that will help bring Jesus love and hope to the kids in Sweetwaters, and kids lives really are being changed. I love that iThemba is not perfect, but is committed to growing better at doing community development right.

Lastly, I just want to thank everyone, once again, who has given, or is still giving, so that I can be out here and help iThemba. I don’t even know some of you personally, yet you have donated your money so that I can continue to assist iThemba in this work. Thank you for “running with me”.

This list does not include the wonderful times that we’ve had with family (both US family, and family here) the fun that David and I have had in our first year of marriage, our great small group and church, getting to eat avocados….it’s been fantastic! 

I love this picture of me and Nompilo. It was taken on the day she was helping me at Running Club. I blogged about it here: http://bridginghope.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/farther-together/
I love this picture of me and Nompilo. It was taken on the day she was helping me at Running Club. I blogged about it here: http://bridginghope.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/farther-together/

Blast Off!!

Last week was kids camp, and we had the pleasure of taking 50 kids to the beach for camp! This year the theme was outer space. We have been planning this camp for the past 3 months, praying, putting together the programme, preparing crafts and games, finding donations… so it was so exciting to finally be there with the kids!

I am so thankful for the fantastic team that I work with and all the hard effort everyone put in to make camp a success– and especially to the small group leaders ( made up of volunteers from the community and iThemba staff). They were a great group of leaders and were willing to do anything for the kids, whether it was be voted off to slide into the pool fully clothed, or have their faces covered in icing and facepaint!

On camp kids play games, have lots of fun and also learn about God. Children who don’t have Bibles get a free Zulu Bible, and during fun games as a team, they learn about how to use a Bible and find verses. We also have a camp speaker who gives a message every day, as well as worship.

Thank you everyone who prayed for or supported this camp in some way!

Here are a few pictures (for those of you who get this via email, it might be easier to see directly on the blog):

The kids are in small groups of 6-8, and they eat, sleep, play and do EVERYTHING as a team.
The kids are in small groups of 6-8, and they eat, sleep, play and do EVERYTHING as a team.
We played lots of games on the beach, including building team sand sculptures
We played lots of games on the beach, including building team sand sculptures
During the first activity, groups had to race around the campsite using a map to find different items, and in the end they used their items to create an edible rocket!
During the first activity, groups had to race around the campsite using a map to find different items, and in the end they used their items to create an edible rocket!
Tug of War on the beach is always fun
Tug of War on the beach is always fun
Here's Gugu, my co-worker with her team. They named themselves "The Goregeous Girls" All the teams have to come up with their own names and war cries.
Here’s Gugu, my co-worker with her team. They named themselves “The Goregeous Girls” All the teams have to come up with their own names and war cries.
This is obviously me.
This is obviously me.
The slide is a BIG HIT. Even though it was quite chilly, the kids couldn't get enought of it. And every night, the kids vote to send one leader down the slide in their clothes. :)
The slide is a BIG HIT. Even though it was quite chilly, the kids couldn’t get enought of it. And every night, the kids vote to send one leader down the slide in their clothes. 🙂
The pool is always a big hit! Kids had free time in the pool, but also played a game where they had to transfer their entire team across without getting in the water.
The pool is always a big hit! Kids had free time in the pool, but also played a game where they had to transfer their entire team across without getting in the water.
Here's one of the crafts they made: stained glass candle holders for tea-light candles. I got to do the black outlines on all 50 of them before camp.
Here’s one of the crafts they made: stained glass candle holders for tea-light candles. I got to do the black outlines on all 50 of them before camp.
David led the teams through the obstacle course.
David led the teams through the obstacle course.
This is us being loopy after 3 days of camp.
This is us being loopy after 3 days of camp.
Kids praying with each other during worship
Kids praying with each other during worship
Our two full-time volunteers at iThemba (Year of Your Lifers), Andile and Nhlaka, who have given a whole year to be with us and serve the community.
Our two full-time volunteers at iThemba (Year of Your Lifers), Andile and Nhlaka, who have given a whole year to be with us and serve the community.

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100 Paper hearts, answering emails, and other ordinary amazing things

So this is at Saturday Kids club, with my cutest ever friend...who knows she's so cute she can get away with anything.
So this is at Saturday Kids club, with my cutest ever friend…who knows she’s so cute she can get away with anything.

So, I thought I should tell you what I do with my life, when all the awesome people I work with are in Sweetwaters teaching Life Skills and being, well, awesome. (Read about the Life Skills program over at the iThemba blog).

Networking and Program support means I write a lot, I plan a lot, I sit at a desk a lot, and sometimes I get to go into Sweetwaters and have fun with kids. 🙂 Here’s an example of what a Tuesday might look like for me ( I have taken out the number of times a day I check my email, since that would get boring):

  • Get to the office and greet everyone personally before making tea. (It’s rude to just sit down and start working in this culture).
  •  Check emails. Correspond with upcoming teams and volunteers.
  • Write up a blog post for the iThemba blog (yes, the one I just told you to go read).
  • Design creative thank you letters for Running Club sponsors
  • Research articles and blogs on good development for our new up and coming interactive website.
  • Cut out 100 red paper hearts, print out 8 huge mazes, laminate 80 name tags for camp.
  • Laugh my head off at the funny things people in the office say.
  • Go to Mountain Home school in Sweetwaters to meet with the principal about our team coming in July from the UK. Judge the school’s 4th grade art competition to determine what mural will be painted by the team at their school. Visit Sbukisezwe creche to talk about the team’s visit with that teacher.
  •  Help with Thulani’s (huge!) Life Group in Sweetwaters: Play singing games with the kids, arm wrestle the tweens, then help with the review game as they go over all of the previous term’s lessons. Pour juice. Hand out chips.
  • Head home! 🙂

Some people have this idea that doing cross-cultural work overseas is some HUGELY amazing thing they could never do.They think people who end up working cross-culturally in a foreign country are some kind of sparkely angelic super-spiritual person they could never be like.

Well.

I’d love to say that’s true. But I think that pretty much everything on that list you’d probably be okay at. (Maybe cutting out paper hearts is a little tough for some of you). I will tell you it’s the BEST JOB IN THE WORLD, and I also work with the most inspiring, fun, crazy people (and sometimes I feel like I’m cheating or something because what I do is so fun, and my JOB is to be a part of this amazing organization, and aren’t people supposed to get stuck into boring desk jobs or something?) … but don’t put cross-cultural mission work on a pedistal and then claim you could never do it because you don’t have what it takes.

You probably do.

On the flip side, you may have noticed that every moment of my life is not holding hands with little children and playing in the rain and singing. A lot of it is pretty ordinary stuff that can get boring. Sometimes I don’t feel like answering a bajillion emails, or cutting ribbons or going shopping for food for visiting teams (my worst) or a bunch of other stuff that’s not my favorite. And this doesn’t cancel out what I just said about having the best job ever– it just one more reason that explains why I am normal, just like you.

And I am guessing that as much as I love iThemba there are probably other organizations and groups where you are that are caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan, and they are probably just as ordinary and just as amazing. So why are you sitting here reading this? You, too, could have an amazing, crazy, wonderful life serving God and doing life-changing things like cutting out 100 paper hearts…right where you live.

 

I’m proud of You

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Photo credit: Emily Bak Toldam, iThemba Denmark Team

Sometimes encouragement comes from the most unlikely of places. I probably would have shooed him away. He was drunk. Not drunk enough to be aggresive, just drunk enough to be honest. He decided to join in on Sizwe’s Life Group last Friday. He had seen my car (and the car of the Restoration Hope team), and figured it was about time he visited. The teenage boys had gathered on the back porch of our host’s home, and we were all discussing the journey of faith, and the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus. The topic turned to the fact that these young men could make the journey of faith easier for their own children one day, through their example as good fathers and good husbands. The whole reason Sizwe and the other discipleship field workers spend so much time with kids and youth in the community is to be role models for them, to build relationships with them and give them the support they need to make wiser choices.

Then he (this unknown drunk man) showed up and sat down in the circle with us. He had plenty to say. “I am just so frustrated.” He repeated over and over (in English, since there were a lot of us umlungus there). “I have four children, all from different mothers. I don’t have a job. I am just so frustrated. I need counselling.” He was about thirty, maybe a bit younger. He was pretty well dressed, but he never smiled.

Sizwe very skillfully explained the teen boys had homework, so we would talk with him after we wrapped up the lesson. The lesson finished and we all left, but Sizwe stayed to talk with the newcomer.

We are told stories in the Bible of entertaining angels unawares, of welcoming the “least of these” and really welcoming Christ himself. I think maybe one reason is not that we will be rewarded with a good feeling for helping them, but that these people actually have the ability to bless and encourage us. Our iThemba team has been pretty discouraged lately with some very serious situations in Sweetwaters/Mpumuza with the kids/teens we work with relating to suicides, AIDS and poor choices. Everyone has been running low on energy, and on hope.

Our new (slightly drunk) friend sat Sizwe down and explained, “You know, you guys are making a difference. I have seen you come here to this road to meet with these boys every day for the past three years. And I told myself, one day I will visit. You know, even though we parents don’t really speak much with you, we do appreciate what you are doing. And it is impacting even us at home. My child always stops me now to pray before we start eating. That is from learning about God with you.” Then he said something which has been ringing in Sizwe’s ears all week. A message from the God on high who sees the work iThemba is doing, who understands the long, hard road it can sometimes be, an echo of what will be said one day at the end of time: “You know what?” the man said. “I am proud of you. I am so proud of you.” 

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Farther Together

Nompilo competing during a race. She was NOT running this fast when she was helping me. :)
Nompilo competing during a race. She was NOT running this fast when she was helping me. 🙂

When we have a team visiting us, it means I get to go be involved with every aspect of iThemba’s work for a few days. This week, that meant I visited running club for the first time since I got over my mono (glandular fever). I have posted about running club in the past, but for those who don’t like hyperlinks, running club is a group of students from a local high-school coached by Thulani, one of our discipleship fieldworkers. There are about 40 of them, and this term they are competing (and winning) against super-priviledged schools in the area.

I took the team to meet the club and join in with the practice– and hopefully encourage the kids to keep going and be dedicated. Thulani had us start by running a few warm-up laps around the stadium (which also doubles as a cow pasture). Since I didn’t want to be lazy, and I wanted to set the example by participating, I decided to run one lap. My friend Nompilo, a student in running club who also was in art club last term (and is one of the fastest on the team), was very kind and slowed pratically to a walk so she could jog with me. Then, as we approached the end of the first lap, I was going to stop, when she wrapped both her arms around me and said, “No, it’s okay, I’ll be with you, you can do it! Keep going.” And so I kept going. 

On my own, I would have done just one lap, but with Nompilo  I was able to do two. 🙂 What a beautiful picture of encouragement, teamwork, and the fact that we really do go farther together. We really do need each other. 

Many of the discipleship fieldworkers have been facing very serious situations in the community with the kids they work with: suicides, abuse, death from AIDS– and all of this has been taking a toll on them. Thankfully, this team we recently had from Restroation Hope was able to pray for them and encourage them to keep going. To see the American church come hold hands and gather around the South African church, praying for the Spirit help them finish strong was a beautiful picture of Christ’s body at work.

  • Pray that the discipleship fieldworkers will continue to be encouraged. 
  • Pray that the running club will become a group of students who support each other in making wise choices. 

Art Shows and Running Clubs

In Sweetwaters there are no organized after-school activities for children or teens. The schools do not have sports teams that compete against each other, and there are no after-school cultural activities. Here’s two cool after-school clubs that iThemba has been involved with lately. These after-school clubs not only keep kids off the street and doing something productive, but they also give children a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. Both of these programmes also help to link the community of Sweetwaters/Mpumuza with the community of Hilton. Ever wonder what hope really looks like? Here are two tangible examples:

Running Club: In a partnership with the JAG foundation, Thulani, one of our discipleship fieldworkers, has a running club with some students from Mashaka school. This club meets after school for training and this term they are competing against other high-schools in the area. Many of these schools are very privileged– they are some of the best schools in our country! It is so much fun to give these students a chance to compete (and do REALLY WELL!) in this context. At their recent meet at Maritzburg College, many of the students placed within the top 15 in their section (each section had up to 150 runners). This week, the students are competing at Michael House boys boarding school.

Warming up and ready to go!
Warming up and ready to go!
Time to stretch
Time to stretch
Nompilo running hard
Nompilo running hard
The team
The team

Art Club: Anna has been running an after-school art club for eighth grade students at Mashaka. Every week for the past 3 months, these 24 students have faithfully come and done art-projects. Anna just arranged  an art exhibition so the students could show their work to their parents and the community. Members of the Hilton community also attended. The students received awards for their participation,  and the school choir sang and danced. It was great to see students so proud of the work they had done.

Students proud of their work!
Students proud of their work!
Anna with some of her students, and their certificates
Anna with some of her students, and their certificates
Visitors from the Hilton community also came to see the art.
Visitors from the Hilton community also came to see the art.
some of the artwork done by the gr8 after-school club
some of the artwork done by the gr8 after-school club
Some students showing off their work.
Some students showing off their work.
Anna and the Mashaka art teacher, who teaches during the week.
Anna and the Mashaka art teacher, who teaches during the week.