Tag Archives: cape town

Personal update…


Following my last post, a few people have felt left ‘up in the air’ themselves about what I am up to! So let me give you a brief update (if you are reading this blog and don’t know me personally feel free to ignore!). If you know me and want to hear more details, do contact me by email. I plan to write a proper email update soon.

I still feel very much at home in Cape Town, and still feel called to live and work there, in fact opportunities and openings seem to be increasing. However I am visiting my other home, London for Christmas and hope to be back in Cape Town in January, February or March depending on a few factors.

My main reason for going to the UK is to meet my new nephew and to await my visa renewal but also to have time to reflect on the first 3 years in SA and on the next 3 years there (I hope!).

My current 3 year South African volunteer work visa finishes mid January and I’ve applied in Cape Town for a new one and wait to hear the outcome. I’ll keep you posted…!


Poetry around the table



Thursday nights are community dinner nights at my church, St Peter’s Mowbray in Cape Town.

Friends and strangers sit together around tables, those with beds to sleep in and those who sleep under bridges or by the train station. Strangers become friends. Community forms. And amidst the struggles and fights, people feel dignity and warmth. We hope.

One Thursday we decided to write poetry and draw with some of our friends and it went down surprisingly well.

I provided prompts for poems and paper and pens and people engaged and shared what they had written.

I am 

– by Maureen

I am a streetwise kid

I feel very sad because I sleep outside

I want a better life

I wonder what will happen to me

I fear death because I don’t know what will happen to my children

I hope to get a better life in the future

I try to become a better person

I believe I can come right

I dream real love will come my way

I am streetwise.


I am 

– by Tash

I am me

I feel like the world is my playground

I want peace for all

I wonder what life after death looks like

I fear loosing a loved one

I hope that God blesses all of mankind

I try to stay positive even when things and life seems impossible

I believe that I will reach my goal of making a difference in someone’s life for the better

I dream of a world without violence, hate, greed and destruction

I am someone who believes in change.


I am

– by Hassiem

I am lost in the world

I feel happy

I want a good life

I wonder what will happen to me this winter

I fear God, no one in the world

I hope for a better life

I try to get me a home



– by anonymous

Cold and hungry,

Wet and tired,

Food, more food,

Will help,

Kind people,

Cruel people?


Wet Reality

– by Zach Stewart, Aged 14, member of St Peter’s Mowbray

I’ve always liked to believe that

Life is like a rain storm.

And you can stand in the middle,

Shivering, and getting sick from the cold,

Or you can be that “weird” person,

That, in the rain, takes off their jersey,

Accepting the cold

While running on the banks of rivers,

Shouting, “FREEDOM”.

Two options I thought, but,

A forgotten reality too.

That reality sits under the bridge, in the rain

While the swelling river bites at its feet.

It prays for an end

To the eternal cold, but

A gulp

Or a smoke from it’s cigarette,

Between. Each. Word.

It’s heart beats slower

Bum… Bum… Bum…

A banging in the back of it’s head,

Or a voice,

Hollow, and reassuring.

“Drink, drink, drink. The cold will go away…”


Overflowing love and infectious joy in a prison


love behind bars

My friend in Cape Town is an inspiring example of intentional love: sacrificial and overflowing. She carries joy with her everywhere and tells a story in her new blog about taking that joy and love right into prison with her and the impact that had. I want to share her story with you here.

About a month ago I walked into a coffee shop and the barista asked me, ‘Where do you come from?’

I responded, ‘I’m from here, why?’

He smiled and said, “Because you’re smiling like a European on holiday. Locals don’t walk around looking that!” We both chuckled; I grabbed my coffee and moved on.

I didn’t have time to tell him why I was walking around with this look on my face. But I have time to tell you…

My friend Sarah proceeds to tell a wonderful story about visiting her friend in prison, encouraging him and speaking life over him to the point where their joy and life spilled over into those around them. You can read the rest of her story here… I highly recommend you take the time to read it, such an inspiring story and mental image that goes with it.

A Spacious Place


table mountain 2

The light here seems brighter

The differences seem starker

Yet mingled in poverty

Hope and kindness shine

As I look to the mountain

I remember from where

My help comes.

As I look out to sea

I remember the vastness

Of His love.

This is my spacious place


There is space to breathe


My soul tells me

I am at home


All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013



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Home is where the heart is

They say

But what if your heart is in two places?

Where people I love live.

Sounds painful.

But I don’t feel

Like my heart is torn

Split, divided

It usually feels more peaceful than that.

More full

Even more rich

Than if my heart was in only one place.

When I am in one, I love and enjoy the people there

And when I am in the other, I do the same.

And yet

There is often a little tug on my heart

Reminding me of the one far away.

Tugs of variant force and persistence

Sometimes easy to ignore

Sometimes a bit sharper

Making my heart a little sore.

I try to listen to my heart when it feels that way

And reach out to connect across the oceans

It’s a small price to pay

For the privilege.

I’m truely blessed to feel at home in both places.

Cape Town, the city and community I love

And primary home for now.

London, where family and friends

Also make me feel known, loved and at home.

So I’m grateful.

For home is where the heart is

And I just happen

To have two.

A Time Such as This


“How do we stand in this blurry line between expectancy and restlessness with an awe-struck sense of peace?”

I really love this beautifully written piece (link below) about living in the now, and sensing what your ‘time such as this’ is right now. I really resonate with the sense of God guiding by ‘the laying down of stepping-stones’ rather than showing the long term picture, by stirrings, ‘nudges, gentle in nature and laced with grace’ and the ‘creaking of doors opening’.

I feel like I can hear that creaking right now, and I’m intrigued to see where the doors will lead. I’m living in the expectancy.

I arrived home to Cape Town today with a bit of a cold. Having had an incredible re-connecting time in the UK with precious family and friends which was such a gift. I am laying low today, not ready yet to re-emerge. But I will be soon, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

You can read the full beautifully written post ‘A time such as this’ (which I hugely recommend) here.

Sweet Home Farm


Sweet Home Farm is an informal settlement in Philipi, Cape Town. The Warehouse, the organisation I partner with, has been working with Sweet Home Farm for some time now. The article below was included in the Warehouse’s latest newsletter, reflecting on the challenges of working sensitively with a community and the transition from partnership to inter-dependence.

From partnership to inter-dependence

“Everyone should be quick to listen” – James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ

We, Siya James and Craig Stewart, have worked together for the last five years learning to navigate the different parts of our relationship as work colleagues and friends, as well as our respective roles as community leader of Sweet Home Farm and as leader of The Warehouse. We have worked hard to listen to each other in these respective roles, knowing that relationships like these can be fraught with assumptions. Recently we’ve dealt with some difficult issues together, which got us speaking of our own partnerhip as well as others that we’ve experienced together.

I, Siya, find it problematic when people arrive in my community wanting to “help us” rather than coming to work with the community.  When people arrive with this attitude it locks them into patterns of behaviour and attitudes that are very difficult to shift, and which require lots of work from me. I and my friends can feel like we are observers in our own community as our hopes, experience and learning of our own community is not required or requested. One way in which I have experienced this was when an external non-profit organisation used a photograph of my child in their marketing materials without my permission and took over 10 months to respond to my multiple requests for its removal.  This has left me wondering whether they are actually using us for their purposes rather than being genuinely interested in us as a community.

I, Craig, have had to reflect hard and honestly about our motivation for working with Siya’s community and how we have expressed that motivation over the years.  I have had to wrestle with the places where we have made mistakes and seek in humility to make right and continue to pursue relationship above all other things.  In conversation with Siya and other friends I am learning to reflect critically on my own practice in this work.  Some questions I find useful are:

  • Am I planning for or about the community rather than planning with the community?
  • Am I fundraising for our initiatives in a community without reference to them, which in turns leads to the funds being used as a control mechanism?
  • Am I using photographs of the community and its members as a form of self praise, showing my friends and constituency how cool or amazing I am?
  • Do I view disagreement and criticism from the community as rebellion or politics, or do I see it as a genuine desire for relationship and engagement?

If we know that we are inter-dependent and are working with each other then it should always begin with time to sit down together, to relate and learn. It is here that we can discover what is in the community and what is not there. It is here that we can build trust and relationship, and it is here where the leadership and decisions can be made by the community, and not by those from outside the community. It is also in these moments that we build trust and learn to disagree constructively, and the only way to truly engage in transformational development – work that comes from mutually respectful relationships

Craig Stewart and Siya James

For another interview with Siya James, take a look at the recent post on transformational advocacy by Micah Challenge.