Leaving South Africa…summing up


I’m on my way back to the US and Heather has left for Kenya for the next month.  We have experienced so much over the last 5 weeks…it will probably take several weeks just to process everything.  The poverty was shocking, but the hope that lives in the group of students that we worked with was encouraging!

Just to summarize, in addition to the math workshop that I conducted with some math teachers over here, we’ve been working with a group of secondary students, all orphans or vulnerable children, who are part of a program that busses them from their rural, poverty-stricken villages to a really good school about 1-1/2 hours away.  The problem is that many of these kids are going home nightly to a very unsafe, unhealthy home environment.  Many are living in child-led homes, more than 50% of them don’t have more than 1 meal per day, and despite the efforts to get them a good education, many of them are struggling, especially in math and science.  By the time they get home and do chores, they have very little time for homework, not to mention zero access to the Internet to conduct research for papers/research projects.  Not to mention that it’s difficult to do well at school when you go to school hungry and have no lunch.  And then there’s the physical danger.  These rural villages that the kids live in are just plain dangerous after dark.  In order for the kids to stay at the library in the town where the school is and conduct research, they must take the late bus home, which gets them there well after dark, with upwards of a 15-30 minute walk from the bus stop to their home.  Sadly, one of our beautiful 15-year old girls was violently attacked and raped in just this situation recently.  Now she has to fear if she’s been given a disease that could change the course of the rest of her life.  I have cried more tears in this last week than I have in years combined.  Despite this horror in her life, she asked to be baptized this week.  God has given Heather and I a great love for these students and He has planted on our hearts the need to help them.  They need more than just access to a good education…they need the physical and emotional security to be successful in that education.  Each and every one of these kids is their family’s hope  They recognize that getting a good education and a good job will allow them to pull their family out of the cycle of poverty that they’re in.

So right now Heather and I are praying about partnering with the organization that provides their education to create a boarding home environment near their school…getting them out of the unsafe home environments into a family environment where they can be nurtured physically, emotionally and spiritually and can focus on doing well in school.  Please pray that God reveals His will for this situation and makes it abundantly clear what direction we are to follow.  It is evident to me from the hours I spent tutoring these students that all of them are smart enough for university or technical school.  Helping these students will eventually help hundreds in their communities.  The door is wide open and we are walking through it.  More to follow as God shows us just what to do.



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