Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Link-a-palooza, a fun way to see what we've been up to

Over the past few months, Darin and I have been around more Americans than usual. This is due to our work with Take Action Ministry and some exciting things that are happening there. Take Action is a group that we have been a part of for a few years, even before we moved to Tshepo ya Bana.  We first met them through Mama Cathrine and Tshwaraganang, an organization that I haven’t written about for a long time. After a few stops and starts trying to get a few projects off the ground there, Take Action realized that there was something missing that was causing the visions of the two organizations to be at odds with each other. The thing that Take Action found was most necessary for a successful partnership was to work with organizations that were rooted in Christ; these could be ministries started by a church or ministries started by people who were very involved in their local church.

In mid-September, a team from Help One Now came to see what Take Action was doing in South Africa. As we got to know the guys that came (Lamar, Ty, Scott and Tim) and learned more about Help One Now, it was amazing to see how the vision/mission of our two organizations aligned!

Help One Now empowers local leaders (Haitian & African) through friendship and partnership. We work with leaders who are already doing the work in their communities. In other words, they’re not waiting for us to begin – they already have the passion and desire to see their communities transformed. We walk alongside them, encourage them, equip them, pray for them and serve them. These leaders are friends and partners in the fight against extreme poverty. They are our greatest resource, and without them nothing will change.

“Take Action’s approach is practical and hands-on:  they help and support local ministers, community leaders and caregivers in poverty-stricken communities who are involved with serving their own communities to uplift orphans and vulnerable children.  Take Action builds relationships in order to empower these leaders to help themselves and their communities in a sustainable way.

As you can see, both Help One Now and Take Action have a focus on coming alongside locals who are already doing the work in the community and supporting them in the work they already do. Both organizations want to work with projects that are sustainable, not a “white elephant”, which is another word for a money pit that continually needs outside resources to continue.

We spent a fantastic couple days with the Help One Now guys; showing them our distribution centre, introducing them to the local leaders we work with, taking them to view a few of the projects in person. We also had some fun, including a get together at the Rous house, a Darin-guided game drive and lunch at Mongena, complete with tiny bread rolls and good food and drink.

Peter Rous
Lamar and Pete
On our Darin-guided tour
Lunch, with tiny rolls and lots of beards

The link to Help One Now came about from a connection our team already had to Lisa-Jo Baker. She is the daughter of Peter Rous, headman of the Rous house. (side note: Lisa-Jo’s blog is one I started reading in preparation for moving to South Africa. She is South African born and raised, but now lives in the US). Lisa-Jo had done a few fundraising campaigns on her blog for the Take Action Maubane community project, which she had special ties to as she has 4 young siblings who are originally from this area.

In mid-January, we experienced a whirlwind weekend of fun with more Americans. Crystal Paine, aka Money Saving Mom, and her manager, Joy, came to see what was going on in our neck of the woods, along with Lisa-Jo and her son, Jackson. Lisa-Jo and Crystal connected several years ago through the blogging community and have become friends. Through the Maubane campaigns Crystal grew more interested in what God was doing in South Africa and felt called to see it in person. Joy came along for the shopping (ha ha). After arriving Thursday night and getting an incomplete night of sleep at the Rous house, the core Take Action Team (Pete and Wanda, Annelien minus her husband Morne De Jager, Darin and me) and our visitors met up in Hammanskraal.

Fey Fam, Rous House and Case de Jager, represent!
First stop was a home visit, aided by the lovely Elsie, and then we moved on to the Distribution Centre. Here, we spent some time talking about our involvement in Take Action, where we’ve been and where we see things going. After this, we headed out to Reagoboka for a site visit. Reagoboka is a drop-in and after care centre started by gogo (granny) Elizabeth and her daughter, also Elizabeth. They saw a need in their community, namely a safe place for children, and stepped up to meet that need in their own home. We spent some time talking with Elizabeth about the needs in her community and what Reagoboka is doing to meet those needs. For Darin and I this was a great experience, as we do not often get out on site visits due to our other life, and we were so encouraged by the work that was started by two women and has now grown to a team of 21 community workers! After a quick stop home to check on Tyson and Jori, we headed to Pretoria for a night at Casa de Jager.
Home Visit
Girl Power!
Learning about the community from Elizabeth
With Elizabeth at Reagoboka
The next morning, we were up bright and early for a game drive. This time it was not Darin guided, and although he is a fantastic game drive guide, this drive was much better than the one we took with Help One Now (sorry guys!). We saw elephants, a rhino and her calf and the cheetah family as well as various buck, birds and other creepy crawlies like the amazing dung beetle. After eating, we made a very, very quick stop at TYB, picked up our kids, and headed out again. This time we headed to Maubane to see the progress that had already been made at the Rivoningo Community Transformation Centre and to talk about the future with the people in the community who are a part of the work this centre is doing. 

Community Water Point

Lisa-Jo and Crystal standing in the mealies

New Playground!
Then we headed home again. Darin, who had not been feeling the best, was worn out and our kids needed some on site parenting, so we had to miss out on the church service the next morning. We did catch up with the group again for lunch and a last chance to talk. The group was still going to be around for part of Monday, but Darin had food donations to pick up and I had a baby to take to the hospital, so Sunday afternoon was the last of it for us.

This past Tuesday, we met with the core team again to discuss the business side of things. We are all really excited to see what God has already done at the centres that Take Action Ministries supports and are all anticipating what He will do next. We are thankful for the partnership with Help One Now and the encouragement and story-telling that Crystal and Lisa-Jo have brought to the table. Darin and I are excited about our involvement with Take Action and look forward to getting a bit more plugged in with different aspects of the ministry.

There are several other centres that Take Action is also involved with, but these (Reagoboka and Maubane Rivoningo) both have some special projects coming up. Lisa-Jo and Crystal will be sharing more on their blogs on Valentine's Day!! So make sure to keep watch, or check out the Take Action Ministry page to learn more, and, in case you didn't know, you don't have to be a Facebook subscriber to visit Facebook pages, which means you can also see what's going on at Tshepo ya Bana!





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