A few thousand years ago the prophet Moses warned his people, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, …But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:10-11a, 18)
The after-school program at Tembisa Baptist Church doesn’t have the sponsors that Arebaokeng has. They aren’t even sponsored by the church, which charges rent for the use of their old building and office space in a converted house on the property. But they run a crèche and feed a hundred children a day.
This week I returned to St. Francis Nursery School. I used to read there regularly back in 2006 and 2007. I turned the project over to a colleague when I went to the States for a few months. That colleague has now returned to U.K. so I thought I would stop by to see if anyone would like a story or two.
The children were in the yard when I arrived. As I approached through the garden, Teacher Ruthie burst from the door, squealing like a three-year-old and running to greet me.
“Why do we read?” I asked the combined fifth-grade classes at Rose-Act’s Saturday’s Cool. This supplementary educational program for grades five through twelve serves the desperately poor township of Alexandra, near Johannesburg.
“To learn new things,” a boy said promptly, and I knew this was going to be a fun class.
“To find out about the world,” another said.
I drove right past the Johannesburg College, Alexandra Campus on London Road. The slum of Alex stretched to my right. Warehouses rose along the road to my left. When I was sure I had gone too far, there was nothing to do, but turn around in the crumbling lot of a business and retrace my route through the heavy traffic.
The Arebaokeng community project has a crèche (daycare/pre-school) and an after-school program for children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. When I lived in South Africa, the children were cared for in an old house. The dining room/classroom was a garage. On cold days the little ones crowded into a tiny bedroom with no furniture. When it rained, the center had to close because the roof leaked so badly there were puddles all over the floor.
Litt-World 2009 is over. Last week I:
November 2004 I sat on a beach in the Philippines pouring out my passion for stories for children affected by HIV/AIDS to David Waweru of Word Alive Publications in Nairobi, Kenya. We were both attending the Litt-World Conference sponsored by Media Associates International. Litt-World is a bi-annual conference for Christian writers and publishers from the majority world.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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