By Dawn Carnill Mrs. Zione Maloni is a widowed mother of eight from a small village in Malawi. She’s also a beneficiary of the Kindle Orphan Outreach Kolezani program.
Kolezani means “kindle a fire” and comes from the idea of fanning a small spark into a brightly burning fire. Kindle wants to do just that – help families use the knowledge and resources they have, add to them, and show them how they can become self sufficient and even thrive.
Kindle (Kids in Need Deserve Love and Encouragement) is a long-time Extreme Response partner. They exist to address the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of orphans, vulnerable children and their guardians within their own communities through education, healthcare and community development.
The Kolezani project is party of their community development program. They have developed a five-year program for Mrs. Maloni and her children, helped them with training, fertilizer, seeds and livestock at various times in the five years, with a gradual weaning from Kindle support as they save money to purchase items for themselves.
This year the the family is expected to harvest 30 50-kilogram bags of maize, which is expected to provide them with food for the entire year. They also will have a good harvest of peanuts and “cow” nuts. With the sale of their goats and extra harvest, Mrs. Maloni has been able to pay for schooling for two of her four high school-aged children. The other two are supported through Kindle’s school sponsorship program. She also is nurturing 572 trees.
Kindle is helping fan the flame for Mrs. Maloni and her eight children. She’s a great example of how Kindle is making an impact on the local communities it serve s, one family at a time.
Alyssa Carrel recently returned from a brief stint as a volunteer with ER partner African Hope Trust. Here she details its work with vulnerable children and its plans to build a new safe house.
My time at African Hope Trust was brief, but oh how refreshing. I struggle to adequately describe what it felt like walking into the two African Hope Trust safe houses, but suffice to say, acceptance, love and peace were a big part of it. The women who run the homes aren’t devoid of struggle, but they all exude a sense of peace and quiet confidence.
Located in the South African township of Masiphumelele, just south of Cape Town, these homes are a safe haven for abandoned, orphaned and abused children. Each employs one to two trained house moms and provides a stable environment for five to seven kids.
Judging from a letter one of the children wrote for Mother’s Day, it’s evident that they know how much they are loved – even when discipline is involved. I couldn’t help laughing when I read, “Thank you for shouting at us in love so that we can understand that it is wrong.”
In addition to its work with kids, African Hope Trust cares for people in emergency circumstances. In the five years since it opened its doors, African Hope Trust has been able to address some 15 short-term emergency cases, such as relocating a child from an abusive uncle’s home. The Trust’s philosophy is while it cannot care for every child in need, it can love as many as possible.
Approximately 40,00 people reside in Masiphumelele, with 50% of them believed to be HIV positive. While anti-retroviral drugs are readily available and free of charge, many still live in fear of the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, and therefore refuse to be tested or treated. Consequently, countless children are left to fend for themselves.
Before African Hope Trust began, only one orphanage existed in Masiphumelele, and it was created for older children. With African Hope Trust, a gap is being filled, at least in part, for younger children in need.
African Hope Trust now is seeking to build and open a third home in Masiphumelele, which would allow for the care of six more children. That would mean six fewer children living in extreme circumstances and wondering where their next meal will come from.
These children need someone to love them and African Hope Trust offers exactly that. The “mamas” care for the children as they do their own. In one of the children’s words, “They give me more love that I didn’t have before.” All these mamas want is a chance to love them – to show them a love that is greater than life. Listening to these kids, it’s evident they have succeeded.
Click here to learn more about African Trust and its plans for a new safe home.
Jason left home at a young age, deciding that Manila street life was preferable to living with an abusive and negligent father.
He scavenged garbage for recyclers and sold illegally acquired tickets to sporting events and concerts. He had not been to school since he was in fifth grade, but deep down, he had a dream to finish his studies.
Three years ago, Jason began a remarkable comeback story when he learned about Support A Child Community Learning Center, a new ER partner in Quezon City, a Manila suburb.
Along with other street children and out-of-school youth, Jason enrolled in Alternative Learning System (ALS), a non-formal education plan operated by Support a Child and other organizations for the local Department of Education.
Jason failed his first ALS exam. But he didn’t learn to survive on the street without a streak of tenacity, and he put that to use in his new studies. He continued his education and ultimately passed the entrance exam for Working Hands, a vocational skills program in which he took up computer literacy training.
Today Jason, 18, is one of SCSF’s junior staff members for serving street children, and is active in the organization’s youth discipleship program. In March he graduated from Working Hands with certification in computer technology. There to witness his accomplishment were his older brother and his mother, Lyn, whom he not seen in some 15 years. She made a 36-hour trip by boat to be with her son for the occasion.
Jason now is embarking on an on-the-job training initiative that will enhance his computer skills and prepare him for a career in computers.
Meanwhile he’ll continue to serve street children, and he has expressed interest in becoming a pastor
Considering the determination he’s exhibited in his young life so far, he’ll achieve that goal too. And he’ll surely be an inspiration to many.
Children are known for their wild imaginations, the stories they create, the way they dream. But for a child growing up in poverty, dreams are a luxury they typically can’t afford.
That’s why the South Africa Dream Centre is so important to children like Kayleen.
This adorable little spitfire from Zimbabwe is a joy to be around. Consider this recent snippet of conversation:
Me: “Do you like school?”
Me: “Why not?”
Kayleen: “It’s a lot of work.”
I think we can all relate. Her honest answers mirror that of the typical 6-year-old, but don’t be fooled: This girl knows how to work.
I have been privileged to watch Kayleen in action, and let me tell you, when she puts her mind to something, she gets it done. For example, one day I watched her, surrounded by the sort of distractions that come with the territory in an after-school children’s program, set laser-like focus on a story she was reading about go-karts; she didn’t look up until she read the final word.
I was impressed. If she can maintain that kind of focus, she’ll go far – despite odds that are stacked against her. Living in South Africa, Kayleen is part of a system that puts the expense of education in the hands of the parents. And many of those hands are occupied with finding work to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads. Education is viewed as a luxury, not a necessity.
South Africa has 11 official languages, but most teaching is done in English. For Kayleen and many other children, English is a second, third or even fourth language, which makes homework a struggle. If the parents haven’t learned English, it can be downright impossible.
That’s where the Dream Centre seeks to fill in the gaps. Run by ER staffers Ron and Amy Townsend (pictured here with their children), the Dream Centre is a safe place for Cape Town-area kids to receive food, love, tutoring and the chance to dream of a future free of poverty.
The Townsends are fully invested in this venture. They desire to live life alongside these kids – to see them through graduation and on to college. Their hope is that by working with and loving on the children, their families also will be positively impacted.
While much of this is a vision toward the future, I have already experienced the impact they’re having on families today. I have seen parents pour out their hearts with gratitude to the Townsends for all they do for their children. Love is a powerful communicator. It needs no translation.
The Townsends – and the rest of the Dream Centre team – want these kids to know, above all else, that they are loved. They’re teaching families that there’s more to life than just survival – that poverty can be overcome and dreams can be realized.
Click here to read more about the Townsends and the Dream Centre.
Alyssa Carrel is native to Michigan. She’s passionate about the written word, children, South Africa and the melodies. Alyssa is native to Michigan. Alyssa visited Extreme Response Africa and spent time working at the Dream Centre, where she worked with at-risk kids in the after-school program.
Tonya Williams’ father always hoped that his children would one day visit the Philippines. His own father was from Turburan in the Cebu province, and he wanted Tonya to experience “The Land of our People,” as he called it.
Santos Talaugon passed away in 2001, but his daughter has fulfilled his wish twice over, including a two-week ER internship in February. And she hopes to again make the long trip from her home in Santa Maria, California.
“My father was very proud of his heritage,” Tonya recalls. “As I grew up, I remember all the stories he would tell about how his dad grew up in the beautiful land of Cebu. There was never any talk of hardship, poverty or anything negative about his homeland.”
Two of Tonya’s friends, Terri Ramos and Ruth Arteaga, introduced her to ER. After hearing ER Asia’s Joshua Benavidez speak during a visit to California in 2014, she joined the Manila Christmas Team, with whom she helped host six Christmas celebrations and serve more than 800 people.
“One of the bonuses is that I went on my first ER trip with my best friend [Ramos], to a place that would capture my heart,” she says.
The trip impacted her so much, she knew she had to spend more time in the Philippines. Her recent visit was based around Makati, one of 16 cities that make up Metro Manila. There she served with a handful of ER programs, partners and friends, including the Manila Children’s Home, the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program, Youth Mobilization, IBIKE Ministries and There Is Hope.
Tonya’s work ranged from assisting with various children’s programs to teaching ladies at Golden Hands how to sew aprons.
“This trip was different than the Christmas parties,” she notes. “I was directly involved with the day-to-day operations of each partner, and was able to connect with the team members on a personal level. It was truly a blessing to see each leader’s passion and heart for their communities, and to show love to all they come in contact with.”
She also attended ER Asia staff meetings and came away more impressed than ever with Joshua Benavidez and his wife, Ann. “They are strong leaders with a passion to raise up strong team members,” she says. “The respect from their team members is impressive. All of the staff at Asia ER is excellent at what they do. They strive to be better and have a passion to [impact] as many people as they can.”
Tonya came home filled with fond memories, such as the last day of her stay, when she finished out her assignment with IBIKE Ministries.
“We were walking back to the office, blasting music and laughing and goofing off right in the middle of the day,” she says. “Then we finished the day with a home-cooked meal and all ate with our fingers. We had a great time, and although most of them did not understand a word I was saying, they all were so loving and welcoming to me, I felt like I was part of the family.”
Such memories and hospitality already have Tonya yearning for a return to “The Land of Our People.”
“I fell in love with the people, the land and the work,” she says. “Each time I go, I leave a little bit of my heart there. I have gained many friends and now have a connection that will last a lifetime. My father would be pleased.”
Does Tonya’s trip spark an interest in ER internships? If so, click here to learn how you can go and help make an impact in extreme circumstances.