Helping Hands Heroine Stoney Johnson Is Rescuing Kids

Stoney Johnson feeds 300 kids four days a week.
Stoney Johnson feeds 300 kids four days a week at Beaufort West, South Africa.


Allen AllnochBy Allen Allnoch
Extreme Response Writer                                                                                                      

   

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.

Stoney Johnson
Stoney Johnson has a passion for helping kids.

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.”

The old wooden structure at Helping Hands Soup Kitchen needs to be replaced.
The old wooden structure at Helping Hands Soup Kitchen needs to be replaced.

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.”

Hungry kids at Beaufort West
Hunger is a daily struggle for many children at Beaufort West.

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.”

Beaufort West, South Africa
Nutritional food changes the lives of children in Beaufort West.

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 ncarnill@extremeresponse.org.

Not For the Faint of Heart

Not for the Faint of Heart

By Amanda Moxley

 

Amanda MoxleyAmanda Moxley spent the last year as an intern at Extreme Response’s Manila Children’s Home, a newly launched project caring for 10 boys who were orphaned, abused, abandoned or neglected. She also volunteered for IT Tender, an ER partner. Amanda shares her experience in this Changing Lives Blog.

I have often thought working with children is like a marriage vow – “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer”. I continue to believe that as I conclude my time in here at the Manila Children’s Home.

The boys are so full of love and laughter even in their unfortunate circumstances. These kids did not choose to be orphans living on the street. It was the hand they were dealt.

I often look at the boys and wonder what they think of their own circumstances. Are they grateful for the place they are at? Do they miss the lives they once lived? Or are they simply just done with the life they are living?

Amanda Moxley, Manila Children's Home
Amanda working with boys at ER Asia’s Manila Children’s Home

So many things run through my head every day, my hopes for them, along with my fears for them. In the last 12 months, I have grown to love these boys.

Actually I did not grow to love them. It happened the first day I laid eyes on them. And since that day they have wrapped me around each of their fingers. These boys, who came into my life as strangers, have been imprinted on my heart as the first boys to dramatically change my life.

A life was forever changed…mine.

Amanda Moxley
Amanda enjoys helping the girls who attend IT Tender’s Night Life program.

Although a lot of my work in the Philippines revolves around the Children’s Home, I also work in other programs and organizations. I came to the Philippines with a commitment to work at IT Tender (an ER partner here in Manila) every Friday.

As the months went on, I began working with other IT Tender programs, such as Food for Life, where I now volunteer three times a week after my shift ends at the Children’s Home. Food for Life is a three-day-a-week feeding program in the town of Putatan, which happens to be where I live. The program feeds 50 kids using nutritious food packs supplied by Feed My Starving Children.

Manna Pack
Manna Packs provide nutritious meals for those in living in extreme conditions.

This was a really cool opportunity for me because, when I was home in California, I had the amazing opportunity to pack the bags that feed these children. It is amazing to see the fruit of the labor of so many amazing people who gave their time to help feed kids all around the world, including kids in the Philippines.

One lesson I’ve learned is that people who go on humanitarian trips or visit people living in extreme conditions don’t know what they are stepping into until they get there.

Many things led me to the Philippines. I could share with you how I felt led here, or how I saw a need and I wanted to contribute my part in helping out.

But what is hard to explain is why I stay. Being here in the Philippines alone, with no family, is hard. It’s hard to be on your own in a place that’s not home. It’s hard to remember cultural sensitivity, because we grew up a different way.

Every day is a battle in trying to remain sensitive to the Filipino people. We try to tip toe through this hallway we call another country, but then we end up trampling all over the feet of the people we came to serve, and bulldozing our way through.

I do have one saving grace. As a country and as a culture, Filipinos are the most gracious, loving, and forgiving people I have ever met!

This leads me to believe that whatever it was that brought me to this country and all the things that made me stay, even if I did not make a HUGE impact, I can take comfort in knowing I met people I never would of met, and did things I never would have of done.

And I changed in a way I never thought I could. This is where the big impact happens. You can feed, clothe, and house a child and feel great about that, because those things enhance people’s lives. But when you build a relationship, that’s where you see the big change in people’s lives. You impact them and in doing so you change your own life.

To learn more about volunteering, becoming an intern, or joining the ER staff visit www.extremeresponse.org/take-action.