Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In Queenstown, which is about 2 hours North of East London on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Hope Africa and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), work together to support a project called The Tshwaranang Resource Center. Tshwaranang is a Sesotho word, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, meaning, “joining hands” or “let’s hold each other”. The mission of Tshwaranang is “to facilitate and support local responses to community needs in support of HIV/AIDS, poverty, gender based violence, and child abuse through training and human rights advocacy and building of partnerships and alliance”.
Tswaranang has a number of different projects, including: home based care, orphans and vulnerable children, food security, job training, AIDs/HIV care and advocacy, and computer literacy.
A group of ERD staff and board members came to South Africa for about one week to talk with their partners, learn more about South Africa, and to visit the Tshwaranang sites. I met up with the group in Queenstown, and was lucky enough to visit some of the work sites. The group was divided into 4 smaller groups for the visit. Many groups visited the homes of people, who are receiving home-based care for medical issues such as, HIV/AIDS, strokes, TB, and much more.
My group visited a church, community gardens, an after-school program, a school and a soup kitchen that feeds the school. At the church and school, we handed out wheel chairs to people who were in great need, who could no longer get around on their own. One woman announced proudly that she would use her new wheel chair for church. She then showed the other woman receiving a chair how to maneuver it.

At the same church, a group of women and one man were out in the hot son working in a garden. They told us that the food they were growing was going to orphans and vulnerable children in the area.

I was particularly impressed with the after school program. They have a large staff that work together to create a safe, fun, learning environment for children in the community.

Finally, we visited a local school, where many of the children who go to the after-school program attend. At the school, we passed out more wheel chairs. Many of the recipients had lost one or both of their legs due to diabetes. One man was so depilated from the effects of AIDS, that he could not walk on his own.

After the wheel chair ceremony, school children sang a couple of songs for our group. Everyone was very impressed with their beautiful voices, and we got a laugh from one of the songs that refers to them as being communists!

The following morning, before the group left Queenstown, we met with Fr. Michael Lapsley, the director of the Institute for the Healing of Memories. Fr. Michael gave the group the opportunity to reflect on their visit and think about the challenges they have moving forward.

The Institute for the Healing of Memories is an incredible organization that gives people the opportunity to tell their stories for healing. They run workshops where people tell their stories from apartheid and in having someone acknowledge what happened to them, people have been able to start the process of healing. Over 60,000 people were displaced from their homes during Apartheid; however, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not hear any of those stories. Fr. Lapsley is doing his own kind of tswaranang; he is bringing people together and letting them hold each other’s pain, so they no longer have to be alone with their memories.
Tshwaranang has many meanings. Tshwaranang is a living faith; it means, holding and supporting those who are suffering, as Christ did. Tshwaranang is also the bonds we make with one another has a human family; it is the bond between Hope Africa and ERD and their bond with the Tshwaranang Resource Center.
Before coming to South Africa, the Young Adult Service Corps group met to discuss what it means to be a missionary in the World Wide Anglican Communion. One conclusion we came to is that we are all one body in Christ – that the suffering of one member of the body hurts to the entire body.
As an American I cannot propose to come into South Africa and try to “fix” the problems of South Africans, rather, I have to acknowledge that these problems are not South African, but problems of the entire world. Because we are bound together in Christ, because we need to hold one another, as Tshwaranag suggests, these problems of suffering and injustice can only be solved when we work together. We cannot abandon our brothers and sisters; we must work together for peace. This is exactly what ERD and Hope Africa are trying to do in their partnership.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Camps during the World Cup

As many of you probably know by now, the main project I am working on during my time in Cape Town, is creating camps that will be run by Anglican Churches throughout South Africa during the World Cup. I wrote a proposal for a camp that I will help to implement in the Diocese of False Bay. I am presenting the camp to the Archdeaconry of Kalk Bay this Saturday. This is some of what I will be presenting:

Children will be on holiday from June 10th until July 12th and, with the influx of soccer fans coming to South Africa, there will undoubtedly be an increase in crime and violence during this time. We are hoping to create a fun, engaging program for the young people at our church and in the neighborhood.

The camp is intended for 8 to 12 year-olds and will begin the second week of school vacation and last for one month. The general approach to each of the four weeks of camp is as follows: activities will be based on a different theme, and the young people will come to camp every Tuesday to Thursday. The first two days of camp (Tuesday/Wednesday) will include games and activities that have integrated the week’s theme. The last day of camp (Thursday) will be dedicated to an outing or a visitor that is also based on the week’s theme.

Here are some of the themes we will be using:
Soccer, music, animals, the sea, AIDS/HIV, social justice, drama, science, etc.

I am really excited about the camps and the safe-haven they will provide for children, hopefully throughout South Africa (if other churches decide to implement them!). At times the project seems incredibly daunting and overwhelming but this is forcing me to learn a really good lesson about trusting God.

I've discussed my anxiety and concerns with the woman I am living with, and she keeps telling me that I need to trust God and pray. Well, I don't know about you, but sometimes it is frustrating to hear someone say trust God, what does that even mean??

That's what I'm trying to figure out. For me, that literally means saying to God, I am putting this in your hands, I trust you. I trust that You will be with me in my planning for and running of the camp, that volunteers will appear, that the word will get out, that kids will show up, and that everything will run smoothly and everyone will have a fun time. The more I say, I trust You, the less anxious I feel.

Part of learning to trust God, has been working on my relationship with God. Like any relationship, the people who you really trust, you trust because you know their character, you are close with them. I'm praying that God will be at the center of everything I do. One of the best thing that has happened during my time here in South Africa, is that I have finally made time to sit and pray and read and journal and it feels awesome!

I went to the opening of the stadium in Cape Town - there was a ceremony, with singers and different religious leaders blessing the stadium, including ArchBishop Thabo, followed by a local soccer match. I want to add pics but i cant upload right now!


Bradley and my mother came to visit after Christmas -- I got to do some of the regular touristy things in Cape Town - Like the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain, Robben Island, winelands, etc AND, we went on a safari. I had such a wonderful time and wanted to share a couple of pictures from our adventures. ENJOY!
Me and Maford at the Cape of Good Hope

White Rhino Mud Bath
Zebras for GG
Me and Bradley