The former social worker runs the Helping Hands Soup Kitchen, where she feeds some 300 children four days a week.
In Beaufort West, South Africa – an area plagued by poverty, illness, hunger and crime – Stoney Johnson is a heroine to children in her community.
The former social worker runs the Helping Hands Soup Kitchen, where she feeds some 300 children four days a week. Moreover, she monitors their home lives, helps them with schoolwork, takes them on outings, and in the cases of particularly at-risk children, fosters them in her home.
ER partner ATAIM (Asia to Africa Innovative Ministries), which facilitates short-term teams to help in Beaufort West and other locations throughout South Africa, wants to help Stoney with improvements to her home.
“We would like a team to help extend Stoney’s house to accommodate all the children she fosters,” says ATAIM Director Pierre Roux. “The kids are sleeping three to a single bed. We need to build triple bunk beds so that these precious kiddies can at least get their own space when they sleep.
“Also, a secure place is needed to store food, because gangs often break in and steal from a wooden structure that is falling down. It would be great if we could build on to Stoney’s house and remove the wooden structure.”
Pictured is the wooden structure Roux refers to. Nick Carnill, ER’s teams coordinator for the Africa Region, says, “We would like to take that down and add on to the brick building. We are looking for a few people who know how to lay brick. But we can also teach them. A team of nine to thirteen would work great.”
Stoney also helps with outreach and care for local women, many of whom suffer from domestic abuse. Teams from Marietta, Georgia and Walnut, California recently visited, with the latter hosting a tea for breast cancer survivors. Roux says the ladies would benefit from more teams who can come alongside and encourage them.
“Ladies were stopping me in the street and saying they felt so valued and worthwhile because people had traveled from around the world just for them,” Roux says. “We really need more ladies teams to help these precious people overcome so much oppression, abuse and pain.”
Another area ATAIM serves in Beaufort West is the Valkoppies Trash Dump, where people have made their homes for a dozen years or more. “The conditions are shocking,” Roux says. “The temperatures are extreme, near freezing in the winter and soaring over 120 Fahrenheit in the summer. There is no shelter except from whatever they can build out of the trash. It’s no wonder that during winter, the dump dwellers move into town and commit petty crimes so they can go to jail and be warm, fed and clothed.”
ATAIM has a long-term plan to purchase a farm and move the dump dwellers there to operate it. Some would grow crops, while others would run the kitchen, clean houses and care for the animals. A potential site has been identified, but Roux says the current price is out of reach.
The dump site and the soup kitchen are just two of the many areas ATAIM serves. For more on this influential ER partner, go to www.ataim.org. And for information on sending a team to help, visit www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/extreme-teams or email firstname.lastname@example.org.