I was visiting some friends, Colin and Kate, who are from Ireland but who are feeling called to an international ministry with orphans. Years ago I visited them and their church with my old boss and his wife, we were doing a training weekend with their church and I stayed in their home. I remember a very significant prayer time with them during which we felt God was strongly speaking about a ministry to orphans, potentially in Africa (which was much more specific and ‘directional’ than we would normally share in a prayer time). At the time they were fostering kids and were at the very early stages of thinking about travelling outside Ireland to work with kids, but we didn’t know that at the time. And now here they are – they have been volunteering at this place for 3 months. Kate produced the pieces of paper from that prayer time from her bible and I recognised my own writing. An incredible and humbling moment, that God had used me as part of their journey. It was precious to be with them for the day and to have an opportunity to have a significant conversation and time of prayer with another volunteer there, after which God brought an incredible answer to prayer to her that very afternoon, which she rushed to tell us with great excitement.
The place is built and developed with such love and care; started and run by one woman, Yolanda, and her two daughters, plus other volunteers. The kids are totally delightful, each so beautiful, with warm smiles. Pre-schoolers colouring-in diligently and then later shovelling sand from the sand pit down their t-shirts to make themselves look pregnant to roars of laughter from the others. Toddlers tucking in to milk bottles and strawberries donated by Woolies, what a treat! Older kids coming home from school for homework and fun and games. Each one has come from incredibly tough backgrounds, some found abandoned on rubbish dumps. But here they are precious. Here they are loved. Yolanda and her daughters are incredible in their commitment, love and perseverance but they need others here who are similar in their heart and commitment.
The orphanage has good connections with a couple of organisations that send short-term teams but what they desperately need, what the children need, is committed, long-term volunteers. If you know of anyone who might be interested, do contact them. They would particularly love someone to teach pre-school and maybe even primary at the site and also someone who can help in the overall management of the place. But really anyone who loves children would probably be welcome there.
It’s relatively easy to go somewhere like this for a few weeks. For the experience. To say, ‘I’ve worked in an orphanage in Africa’. Play games, take photos on phones. But the kids deserve so much more. They need commitment, committed love, people who will be in their lives a while. Giving security. Building trust. After what the kids have gone through that’s what they really need.
Footprints orphanage: http://www.footprintsplay.co.za