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Visiting Hands At Work South Africa

“What were the highlights of your trip?” a friend asked.  There were so many highlights … spending time with our son David, meeting the people he lives and works with, learning more about “Hands at Work”, the charity he is volunteering for, visiting people in the communities “Hands” support, the Kruger National Park and seeing so many wild animals there, enjoying the spectacular scenery of places like Blyde River Canyon … and many more – an unforgettable trip and something of an emotional roller-coaster!

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 2037

The main purpose of our visit was to see David and to experience something of what he and “Hands” are doing … so “Going into Community” was very important.  We met many orphans and Care Givers, often Gogos, (grandmothers) in four different communities.  It was a privilege to meet the Care Workers, all volunteers, who organise the meeting place, teach the children about God, cook a meal for the orphans five days a week and regularly visit their homes to support their families.  We also went out with a Care Worker to do some “home visits”.  At one home we met a Gogo (Grandmother), her daughter and four children (Grandfather was resting because he was sick).  This was the only home we visited where there was more than one adult.  All conversation was conducted through Tanya, the Care Worker, so it had its limitations but Gogo was very appreciative of our visit. Only the two older children (nine and five) go to the Care Point (where the meal is served) as it is too far for the little ones to go.  None of the children have a “Certificate” (something like a birth certificate) and consequently their mother is unable to claim a “grant” (seems like Child Benefit) for the children.  At the end of the visit Tanya asked the family what they would like us to pray for; they asked us to pray for these certificates.  As we walked away, Grandfather came out of the house to greet us and then Gogo came hurrying up wishing to give us a gift.  It is culturally very rude to refuse a gift so we had no choice but to accept it – she wanted to give us some corn from their garden.  The plants normally produce around two cobs each … and she gave us six cobs!  We thanked her and said goodbye but it was very hard and very humbling to receive food from someone so poor!  Before the visit, Tanya had told us that all the adults in this family are sick; as we walked away she told us that they are sick with HIV – what will happen to these children if/when all the adults die?

This was just one visit … seeing pictures of people in poverty  in a far-away land touched our hearts … seeing them in the flesh has left an indelible impression … God is very concerned for the poor and vulnerable and so must we be.

Meeting Lawrence was a real highlight!  David stayed with him for four days – in his house – in the first few weeks he was in South Africa.  David has a great relationship with Lawrence and his family – Gogo, who looks after them, sister Fiona, Uncle Mike, who lives next door and friend Thomas.  We visited Lawrence twice and we were greeted so warmly and welcomed like family members.  They seemed so blessed and encouraged that David had told us about them and that we had cared enough to come and visit them ourselves!  Lawrence and Thomas have now finished school but have no jobs; they want to apply for university but lack confidence in applying and have already missed one deadline.  However, we were thrilled to hear that they have now started helping the Care Workers with tasks such as collecting firewood, reading the Bible to the orphans or joining in worship times and even doing home visits with the Care Workers!!!  All the Care Workers we met were women and for these young men to do these things is quite counter-cultural and a great example to their community and the children they are serving.  Please pray for them!

Paul & Wendy Rowe



Visit the Hands at Work website for more information

Chris Doney, 22/05/2014

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