Saturday, September 1, 2018

Build Them a Home Progress Report #7 has probably seemed like I fell off the face of the earth. I kind of disappeared off the blog for a while as I was busy writing in other places, but I am back with a new report.

Since the last time I wrote, we managed to find a few bits of furniture to make the house feel a bit more homey: a kitchen table, a few nightstands and some kitchen cabinets (two of which are being used for bedroom cupboards instead)! The curtains have been hung and the electrical work is 100% complete. Next week the builders will plaster one final outside wall and build a stand for the water tank.

Sweet Amo chilling.
Lenah cooking in the kitchen
Other side of kitchen

I honestly cannot say Thank You enough to everyone who has given towards making this dream a reality. We always loved visiting Amo and her family because we love them like family, but to be able to visit them in this house, where we can all find seating, where Jori and Johanna can go off into a bedroom to chat, where we can use the toilet and wash our hands all in the same room; it is the small things that are just amazing to experience with our friends.

She loves entertaining guests
When we stop in, Amo is so much more a part of the life of the family. She isn't tucked in a corner next to a pile of clothes or laying on a bed in one room while everyone else is in the living room because of space constraints. She has a prime spot in the living room on this sofa and when family members walk past and talk to her, she turns her head towards them. I can sit in the living room chatting with Amo while her mom sleeps down the hall after working the night shift and I can chat with Lenah while she cooks in the kitchen and it is comfortable and the atmosphere is relaxed.

I stopped over the other day and Jameson was home, working on rebuilding the outside shack for storage. I asked him how he liked the new house and in his slow manner of speaking he told me how great it is to not have rats all over and dust blowing in on everything and how much more quiet it is when sleeping. He is happy that his sister has a place to study and that they can all sit together in one space.
Mother and Daughter
We are hoping that as more donations come in we will be able to purchase a pump for the water tank and a hot water geyser (heater for you Americans reading this!) so that there will be a stable flow of water in the house and also warm water so they won't need to use kettles to heat bathing water. We also hope to replace their small two plate stove that has become a one plate stove after a burner stopped working, as well as purchase and install a sink in the kitchen and some more cupboards. Storage remains a huge need, so if anyone local has drawers or shelves or cupboards you are looking to get rid of, let me know!! 

Thank you all for partnering with us. Please keep sharing as the work isn't finished. You can give by clicking the donate button at the top right of our blog. If you prefer to pay by check, please contact us at and we can give you details on how to get that done. 

#SpreadtheWord #SharetheLove #BuildThemaHome

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Build Them A Home Progress Report #6

Hello All. First of all, to everyone who has given: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am working on a note with words from the Baloyi's, but I am just not getting it done as fast as I would like. Please know that your gift has not gone unnoticed and your thanks is coming :)

It has been just over a week since I last posted and the changes in the house are amazing!! In fact, even though there are still some things that need to get finished up, including the final electrical hookup, the water tank/stand/pump to get water flowing to the house, and getting a kitchen sink, Amo and her family MOVED IN on Thursday!!! Darin went over this morning to hang curtain rods and took a few pictures as well.
Miss Amo waking up in her new house
The picture above might not seem like anything special. I post pictures just like this of Amo all the time when she is with us. However, this is the first photo we have of Amo in her own house where the room is light enough to really see her! The photo below was taken with the flash on, or we wouldn't have seen our silly little goose with her flowing locks (we were messing around with a wig)! The old house was dark and the light that was shining in came through gaps in the tin that shouldn't have even been there! When Darin showed me the picture above it just made my heart feel light.
Moza with long hair
The whole house has been tiled and, while it took money away from things that were more "need" than "luxury", I am SO GLAD we went ahead and tiled the whole place. It looks and feels so clean inside. The tiler also laid tile for the shower and around the bath. This is such an improvement over the bucket they have used for so long!


Tub and Sink. (Avocado Green might be out of fashion in some parts of the world, but NOT here)

Darin has been over at the house a lot; hanging doors, hanging curtain rods, and just being the wonderful Uncle D we all know and love. I went with him on Friday to see what the house was looking like. When we got there, Phineas, Lenah's boyfriend, was taking down the tin shack.

New house to right of shack.
I started helping Lenah sort through the piles in the house while Phineas worked around us. I have been in this house plenty of times. I have seen and heard the rats, I know there were often piles of clothes laying around as there weren't enough cupboards or cabinets to store things, I know about the leaks from the roof and the holes in the tin walls. I had never seen it all in the light of day. 

As I said above, the tin shack was always dark, with just one light bulb hanging between the rooms and fragments of natural light from the door and small windows. Grabbing a shirt and realizing that it was shoved part way into the ground to try and keep rats out and seeing that there was just as much dirt inside the house as outside were unsettling. But realizing how much mouse and rat poo was inside the house was heartbreaking. The floor was covered with it, and there was nothing the family could have done to stop it. Trying to keep a place clean when you are crammed in to a small space with no storage and no good lighting and no reliable water source is hard. The dirt and dust and piles all around might make you think we just had you all help a family of slobs, and this isn't the case. Our deepest desire is that this family will now be able to live in a home that gives them dignity. 

Amo sleeping on the front porch

Thank you all for loving this family!
We will be sure to post a few more photos when everything is done and the house is a bit more set up. This week we'll be cutting curtains to size and Darin is going to be trying his hand at building shelves using scrap wood from a Take Action connection. If you still want to help out, please use the donate button at the top of our blog!

Thank you for Spreading the Word. 
Thank you for Sharing the Love. 
Thank you for Building Them a Home!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Build Them A Home Progress Report #5

It is Friday morning. I am sitting in our living room watching Amo take 5 minute naps and then wake up full of energy over and over and over again. We are all enjoying our favorite little house guest, but are so excited for her to be in her new home with her family!!! 

Now it is time for an update, and also for another ask. Yes, we met our goal of raising $10,000 to #BuildThemAHome, but as with most building projects we have found some places where we underestimated the cost and other things that we forgot altogether!! So, if you were still thinking of giving, please do! You can use the handy dandy donate button at the top of our blog, or if sending checks is your thing you can: 
  • Write a check made out to: 1st CRC Edgerton
  • In the memo of the check write: "Take Action House Project"
  • Send to: 1st CRC Edgerton 120 Center Street South Edgerton, MN 56128
  • Send an email to Darin at so that we can keep track of funds as they come in and to give us a record of donations in case any mail goes missing!
The outstanding items and costs are as follows:
  • plumbing supplies - $150
  • stand for water tank (to provide water pressure to make indoor plumbing work) - $500
  • gas water heater - $200
  • kitchen cabinets - $300
  • interior paint (this is NOT a necessity, more of a "if you live in the area and have some paint to donate, please do!!)
Originally, we had planned to use a contractor, but to keep things a bit more low-key and to build goodwill in the community, Annah and her family really wanted to use local builders, plumbers, and electricians and not the contacts of the contractor. This made sense as they already stand out in the community because of their white friends! Everyone has done a fantastic job, but the builders didn't exactly follow the plan and the house is about 20 square meters larger than the original plans. In the end, this is going to be great, but it has thrown our costing a bit out of whack. A larger house means more materials for plastering, more wiring and electrical conduit, longer copper pipes for the plumbing, more tile, etc. Once the foundations were laid, there was no going back, so now we are just trying to make a plan. 
Side view: Kitchen door and current outdoor toilet
If we aren't able to raise additional funds, the family does have about $900 that they had started saving in preparation for building a home and we will find the money to make everything workable, but we are really hoping we don't need to dip into their savings. 

In their own words:

"The question we always asked ourselves was when are we ever going to build and how much money do we actually need to start. The answer to those questions was never and we don't have enough. We had actually saved almost R10,000 to start making the bricks, but that would only be the beginning and then we would have to stop."

"We are so relieved to be moving into a finished house and not only having a pile of bricks. For us to have a house like you have built for us would mean that we would all need to be working good paying jobs, like career jobs and not the kind of jobs we have. Now we don't have to build a house and can focus on saving for Johanna's (now in Grade 9) university fees and saving to buy a car so that we can transport Amo (this is becoming more and more difficult with public transport)."
Front of house
"It is amazing what is happening. People just gave away their money and some don't even know us but they did it because they have love in their hearts. You have taught us that love and you have made our dreams come true."

I will be sharing more from the Baloyi family in the next update. Right now, Darin is out picking up a few more bags of cement so that the outside plastering can be finished. The inside plastering is finished, the electrical stuff will be finished after the plumbing, which should get finished this weekend. The tilers are coming tomorrow and plan to finish tiling by Sunday. The window guy is coming to install glass on Monday. After that, the family will do a big clean from all the building mess and move in!! 
Dining room looking into kitchen
If you know of anyone who can help us finish this project well, please share this post with them. We are so excited to share photos of the family in their new house!!

Spread the Word. Share the Love. Build Them a Home.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Build them a home progress report #4

Hello all! It has been a while since I have been on here with an update, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been progress. We were tied up last week with a bit of work and a lot of fun with Take Action Ministry and a visit from the Money Saving Mom and her family (and Brian too!)

Tyson playing games at one of our centres

Sissy riding horse at the lodge

Crystal keeping Amo calm while we hurry to make her dinner!

I have more pics posted on Facebook and Instagram, or you can check them out on Money Saving Mom on Facebook as well :) While our guests were here, we also took them to see the progress on the house. The oldest child of Money Saving Mom had gone with us when they visited 3 years ago and was eager to see what changes had occurred since then.

It was so fun being able to show the house that is being built now thanks to the generosity of so many. The Baloyi family was eager to show us around. Here is a photo of the fam (minus Jameson) in front of their current house.

Lenah and Omphile, Annah and Amo, Johanna
Right now, the electricians are finishing up. Here is what some of the process looks like for those who might be interested. The electricians grind out part of the brick to make "paths" for the electrical wiring. Then they plaster over this. (My husband just told me this process is called "chasing" and that the electricians first "chase" the walls and then put the conduit in.)

Once the electrical is finished, the interior will be plastered. After that, we plan to tile the whole house. This will make it easier to keep things clean! Some of the plumbing will happen before the tile is laid and some after. 

Darin has been keeping track of all incoming and outgoing transactions. We have received more than we originally thought, which is why we are able to tile the entire house. As someone who has lived in a house while it was being tiled, I am really happy that we can get this finished before the family moves in! We hope to have enough left to buy a stand for the water tank as it needs to be elevated to provide enough pressure for the sinks and bath. 

We are not sure yet if there will be enough to paint the interior, but we are hoping so as it will make everything look more bright and finished. Getting the kitchen kitted out with cupboards and a stove will also have to wait, but this isn't the end of the world as they've been managing without cupboards and with only a two plate burner for years.

If you would still like to contribute, the donate button at the top of our blog is still working :) Just thought I'd put that out there...

We are getting back into the normal rhythms of life over here after the school holidays. Tyson started back to school on Tuesday, Jori heads back Monday. Amo is back with us after a few days away last week. We are having another cold snap here and staying warm is something we work hard to do all day. Lots of hot drinks, hot water bottles and multiple layers of clothes for the win!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Build Them a Home Progress Report #3

Wow, wow, wow!!!

We are only $50 away from reaching our goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave over the past week. The house is really taking shape and the Baloyi family is SO excited!

We stopped by today to bring Amo home after her long stay with us (busy week ahead with Take Action supporters from the US arriving tonight!) and it is just incredible how quickly the house is coming together.

Sheets of zinc going on the roof!

Looking from front entry into the dining room and into the kitchen

A whole lot of love has gone into this home!
In preparation for our busy week ahead, Darin also arranged for an electrician, plumber and window glass cutter/installer to come out and give quotations. We are hoping to keep this process moving ahead quickly, but properly. We have currently spent $6,750, leaving us with just over $3,000 of the total raised. This includes the cost of the windows, but not electric or plumbing as we might need to get additional quotations.

After the electricity is installed, the interior walls need to be plastered and painted. Then it is time to see what fixtures and fittings we can purchase, such as bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, kitchen stove, water heater and tile for the kitchen and bathroom. We will not turn away additional donations that come in after the $50 remaining of our goal. (I am learning to not be afraid to ask, especially as we have seen over the years how generous our tribe is!) The easiest way to donate is through our PayPal account. Just click the donate button at the top right of our blog!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Build Them a Home Progress Report #2

Happy Friday Everyone!

Less than one week ago, we updated you on the progress of the house for the Baloyi family. At that time, the building was this far along:

Since then, things have been moving along and we could not be more excited! The foundation is finished and the walls are being built. Door and window frames are being installed and it is becoming easier to imagine this being a HOME! 
Finished Slab
5,000 bricks!
Windows and the back door!
Interior wall in the morning!
Similar view in the afternoon.
View from the front!
It is so exciting to see how quickly things are coming along. The builders plan to work all weekend and I cannot wait to show you the progress then!

We are $1,600 away from our goal of $10,000. We have already spent about $5,000 on labor and material. If you want to give, you can use the donate button at the top of our blog. You can also send a check if you prefer. The details are at the bottom of this post.

Spread the Word. Share the Love. Build them a HOME.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Build Them a Home Progress Report

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has already given towards this project! It has been so much fun giving Amo's family updates when we receive more funding. I asked Grace, Amo's aunt, what the mood was like when Darin gave them the total raised after the first week and she said they basically jumped around and screamed like children :) 

We have decided to proceed with the building, even though we have about $2,000 still to raise. The builders were available, Darin found a good deal on bricks, and the family had torn down half of their shack in preparation, which means 4 of them are now sleeping on a bed set up in the living room and Amo has been staying with us! She is now with her mama for the weekend and we have Johanna, her younger auntie here with us instead. 

Water Tank
The only source of water for the household has been a faucet in the yard that provides municipal water - except for when it doesn't. There is usually no water available during the day, so the family leaves the tap open with a bucket to catch water when the water starts flowing sometime in the night. This is obviously not an ideal situation for living. Buying a water tank was something we had planned to do, but realized it would be one of the first items needed as cement can't be mixed without lots of water!

Bricks for the Foundation
Cement mix for the Foundation
Builders making preparations
So far $3,500 has been spent, which covers material and labor for the foundation, the water tank, and the bricks and most of the cement for building the walls of house. This will leave the roof, plumbing, electrical, plastering/painting, and interior furnishings such as kitchen cabinets and counters and bathroom fixtures. 

Foundation in progress
We cannot say thank you enough to all of you who have given or have spread the word about this fundraiser. If you want to give, please remember to use the Donate Button at the top of our blog or you can follow the instructions below to give by check. 
  • Write a check made out to: 1st CRC Edgerton
  • In the memo of the check write: "Take Action House Project"
  • Send to: 1st CRC Edgerton 120 Center Street South Edgerton, MN 56128
  • Send an email to Darin at so that we can keep track of funds as they come in and to give us a record of donations in case any mail goes missing!

Spread the Word * Share the Love * Build Them a Home

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spread the Word! Share the Love! BUILD THEM A HOME!

Amogelang January 2013
As most of you know by now, this little girl holds a very special place in our hearts. If you have read our blog for long, or followed us on Facebook or Instagram, you would also know that through loving and knowing Amo, we have also come to know and love her family. If you know the back story and want to get to the point, look for the sentence written in blue below and start reading from there!

We first met Amo and her mom, Annah, in January of 2013 at Tshepo ya Bana. Amo had recently turned 2 and Annah was  struggling to care for Amo while finishing school and caring for  her 2 younger sisters and younger brother.

Baloyi Family- December 2013

Over the next couple years, we got to know Annah, Grace, Jameson, Johanna and later Grace’s son, Omphile. They would often come to see Amo at Tshepo ya Bana or we would spend some time with them when we brought Amo home for weekend and holiday visits. During this time, their granny who owned the house where they stayed, passed away and soon after the family was told by relatives that they needed to move out of their home.

Original Tin Shack- November 201

In November 2014, we received a donation from  Darin’s former employer and were able to help  Annah purchase a piece of land that had a small  tin shack and pit toilet already on site. This property was small, but for the first time,  the family had a home of their own. Over the  next few years as they had money, the tin shack  was torn down and rebuilt to provide a bit more  room. In December 2015, as we were preparing  to move from Tshepo ya Bana to our current  home, it was also time for Amo to leave Tshepo  ya Bana and return to her family.

One of many attempts to improve the home over the years.

August 2015

Renovation Complete! September 2015
Since that time, we have remained in close contact. We often have Amo over for the day, the weekend, or longer. Johanna is a good friend of Tyson and Jori and joins us for outings or youth group. The family comes with us to church when we get our schedules lined up and we celebrate birthdays and Mother’s Day with them as well. Grace and Annah have acted as house sitters for us when we have gone on short holidays and when we were in the US for 6 weeks in 2017. 
Birthday Celebrations- March 2016
September 2016

Fun at the mall- January 2016
Jameson is working a full-time job now at a local shop and joins us when he is able. Annah is also working full-time as a supervisor in a factory; one week she is on day shift and the next week night shift. Together they earn around $400 per month. Johanna is in Grade 9 and Grace is busy caring for Omphile, who is almost 3, Amo, who is now 7, and keeping the house clean, laundry done, and food prepared for the family.

**So this is where you want to start reading if you’ve chosen to skip my intro**

This is a family that we love, a lot. A family that has struggled with losing both parents, being abandoned by family, and raising a severely disabled child. Annah is working a job that is physically exhausting while making far less in a month than the average US teenager will make in a week at a summer job. Grace and Annah have started a small d├ęcor for hire business through a loan from their “Uncle D” as a way to provide extra income for their family. This family hustles, and they do it while living in a house that most of us would simply not be able to handle living in.

Sweet Amo- November 2015

First time at a water park-  February 2017
While their house is now large enough to provide space for the 6 people living in it, it is not safe, it is not comfortable, it is not a home. The house is made of tin, most of which has been used and then reused as they expanded the place. There is no indoor plumbing. The property has an outhouse of sorts and a water tap in the yard for collecting water (when the municipal water is running). The family uses basins for bathing indoors and washing dishes outdoors. There are many nail holes, and larger holes, both in the walls and roof that let in rain, dust and more than a few creepy crawlies.

The bathroom
Inside the bathroom

The floor is dirt with a thin layer of cement on top. This layer of cement is too thin to keep rats from burrowing up through the ground, through the floor, and into the house. These rats basically rule the roost. Both Amo and Omphile CANNOT sleep alone because of the potential harm that would come to them from rats. The rats chew through clothes, bedding, and parcels of food. They steal food AS IT IS BEING PREPARED for consumption. We have been in the house and thought someone was in the back bedroom only to be told “it’s only the rats”. Yes, only the rats, that make so much noise you think a large person is bumbling about. And no, I do not have a photo of rats stealing the food or crawling on the family at night, but we've seen them and we've heard them and it is NOT OK!

The leaky roof and lack of a proper foundation also cause the house to be very damp. We often drive up to find bedding or even a sofa setting outside because the rain found a way into the house and made a big mess. They even have had mushrooms growing in the house- they just pop through the cement “floor” and thrive in the wet conditions. 
Mushrooms in the house!

It's hard work to keep this girl warm!!- July 2015
While it is true that someday Annah, Grace and Johanna may marry and move away to live with their husbands' family, that day is not now, and with Johanna only being in Grade 9 and planning to attend University (we will be cheering her on!!!), Annah still has a long time until her little sister leaves the nest and frees her up to leave as well. And let’s not forget Amo! While none of us know how long this lovely lass has here on earth, we pray that it will be for many, many years to come. For as long as she is living, she needs a home to live in; a place where rats cannot harm her, where the house can be kept dry and clean to help maintain a healthy respiratory system, where food can be prepared in a hygienic environment, and where her mother can sleep soundly at night, knowing her daughter is safe and warm.

Annah and her girl at our church

We have already received $4,000 towards our efforts to “Build Them a Home”. This is a fantastic starting point, but we still have a ways to go! Our goal is to raise $10,000 total for a three bedroom, one bath brick house with a kitchen and living room. We have already been speaking to a local builder and know that raising $10,000 will cover all labor and material costs and give a bit of wiggle room, which we have learned is a good thing to have when building here!

If you want to give, you have a couple options:

Everyone: give via Paypal using the "Donate" button at the top of our blog. If you are not in the USA, this will most likely be the simplest way to give!

US residents who need a tax receipt: give via 1st CRC Edgerton, which is one of our supporting churches. If you choose to give this way, please follow the instructions below!
  • Write a check made out to: 1st CRC Edgerton
  • In the memo of the check write: "Take Action House Project"
  • Send to: 1st CRC Edgerton 120 Center Street South Edgerton, MN 56128
  • Send an email to Darin at so that we can keep track of funds as they come in and to give us a record of donations in case any mail goes missing!
I will be updating the amount needed both on the blog and on Facebook. We KNOW that we can raise the remaining $6,000 and HOPE to raise it quickly. Winter is coming soon to the Southern Hemisphere. The builder has told us the whole project can be finished in about a month, so the sooner we start raising funds, the sooner we can get this family into a warm, rat-free, safe and secure home! 

Spread the Word! Share the Love! Build Them a Home!

Build Them a Home Progress Report #7 has probably seemed like I fell off the face of the earth. I kind of disappeared off the blog for a while as I was busy writing in...