2010 was a busy year filled with many challenges and changes and much growth, both in individual lives and for uThando leNkosi as an organization. Fourteen children stayed with us at the House during 2010 and another child and her baby were under our care! All of the children who lived at the House were sibling sets. What an honour to have been part of their lives and to share God’s love and compassion with them and also to be able to have kept these families together. We also thank God that all these children have either returned home or found good long-term placements. We are looking forward to a year that exceeds our expectations and all we have seen so far.
Here are some of our top highlights of 2011:
1. Errol and Michelle joining our UL family as House Parents. The Mullers jumped right into the middle of things with enthusiasm, vision and a wealth of experience and wisdom which we have been privileged to benefit from. Errol and Michelle do not see their position at UL as merely a job – they believe, as we do, that the holistic care of a child extends beyond providing food and shelter. They have poured their lives into the children, giving extra lessons in the mornings and after school to help bring the children up to grade standard, they have got involved in the school communities, they have disciplined with love and patience and wisdom, they have shared Christ’s love, encouraged other staff, and been instruments of healing and restoration.
2. Full and encouraging prayer meetings towards the end of the year. Prayer is still the cornerstone of UL and it really was great seeing more people joining the prayer team and holding our hands up through some tough times. We have seen miraculous answers to these prayers – especially in the areas of finances and House Parents – and are grateful that God has continued to faithfully carry and supply for us.
3. Seeing children’s lives transformed. While we have seen amazing change in the lives of ALL the children who stayed at UL last year, two stand-out. Mid-2010 two sisters joined us at UL. The eldest, C, was 9 years old and had never been to school. We found her a place in a nearby school where she very eagerly began learning. The school was very gracious and accommodating, placing her in three different grades simultaneously to help her catch-up. Michelle also provided substantial tutoring. Every day when C got home from school she immediately went to the little blackboard and did her home-work – writing, drawing and doing sums for hours at a time! Her enthusiasm and excitement for school was incredible to see!
Later in the year another group of siblings joined us. The eldest girl, around 10 years old, had taken on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers – the youngest of whom was a baby. For years she made sure they ate, slept, were bathed and cared for. Just a child herself, it took many weeks for her to let go of the responsibility and hand it over to adults. She came to us broken and angry and having experienced things children never should. Slowly she began to be a child again – dressing age appropriately, playing, and finally SMILING!
4. Establishing relationships with stakeholders. Tracy and Babalwa have focussed a lot of energy on building relationships with stakeholders, especially social workers, and these relationships have begun to bear fruit. In 2010 we hosted a dozen social workers at a monthly social work forum. In addition we have established good relationships with, amongst others, Heathfield Primary, Hope House, Badisa, Bosasa, State Street South Africa, various churches and volunteers to serve the needs of children in specific and much needed ways.
5. Growth in the vision and staff growing together in the mission. We have seen great growth in the way UL is run – we have become more efficient in our administration, more mature in our decision making, more graceful in our conflict resolution, more wise in our handling of finances, and stronger in our working together as a team. This is ONLY through God’s grace, because we are definitely human in all these respects.
As we look to the next year we know that there are still many areas in which we can improve and we are eager for the work to expand.
Here is what we are looking forward to in 2011
1. More intense and focused unified prayer as staff and trustees, and a bigger team of people praying regularly with us.
2. Seeing more children come into life-changing relationship with Jesus. We have had several children over the past few years who have seen Jesus in a dream and learnt things that no-one taught them. We long to see more of this!
3. Continuing to build and strengthen symbiotic relationships with people and organisations that will further the cause. Improved communication between UL staff and the organisations we work with.
4. A baby unit to be opened.
5. A new house (or two!)
6. A consistently full house of children.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Lord, grant that we may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.