Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One year ago...

A year ago at this time, Monte Christo Miqlat had a very special visitor. She came with her servant's heart and her gift as an artist. Her leave us with a mural of some kind to share the story of one of our ministries. Well, that she did and more! Pictured here is Hayley McNeil from America. She is standing next to one of our Sports and Recreation re-purposed 40 foot containers, which serves as a changing room for our youth soccer teams. In this mural, which is mounted to the container, we have 3 scenes. We have young children playing soccer in the streets phasing into an older youth practicing drills phasing into professionals playing in the World Cup...Greenpoint Stadium, Capetown in the background. We are grateful for Hayley's work of art, and the imprint she left behind. In addition to what she left behind, she took something back with her. Here are some final impressions of her trip.

It's a curious thing that happens. It seems that when we get to a place where no one knows us, we become most ourselves. Traveling to Africa was an incredible departure from my normal everyday life. The chance to see, touch, and do things that I had only previously experienced via my couch & flat screen, opened my world immensely.

The western world pumps adopt-a-child advertisements into our homes so often that the images of hungry people and stick thin babies become just another 30 second blip we forget 30 seconds later. American parents are quick to throw out the "starving-children-in-Africa" phrase to a child who refuses to finish their lunch. But I have been there. I have met those kids. I have shared meals and time and hugs with those people. And I have realized something vital. The only difference between myself and any S. African living in a one room shack is simply the fact that I was born a middle-class American.

Their way of life is different from ours. You don't see as much evidence of the rat race and the Jones's. Hope is a thing pushed to the side in favor of meeting basic needs. Families are broken by disease, distance, and desperate actions. Yet there still seems to be joy and contentment in even the poorest circumstances. Every place I walked, a smile was returned with a smile. Each person I met took a genuine interest in knowing my name, my story. People were kind, helpful, and reassuring. There was less focus on self.


It literally translates as 'human-ness' and is a common philosophy throughout Africa. In essence, it is the belief that we are all interconnected. No man can exist in total isolation. What I do with my time, talents, money and relationships always affects someone else. After spending time in Paarl the ache of poverty became real to me. But upon returning home, I realized a few things:

~ Just because you live in a smaller space, own less, eat less, and travel less that does not make me better than you. We are equally deserving and loved by God.

~ While I cannot adopt, save, or feed every person who is born into a life with less, I can re-evaluate how I use my treasure. Spend less time accumulating & complaining and more time giving.

~ If just one life is better, easier, or more hopeful because I have touched it, that is success.

~Living in this country is a gift. There are people that I now personally care about who will never have the opportunities that I daily take for granted.

Hanging in our home is a giant wall map with pins stuck in all the places we have been. They are color coded - Blue for my husband, White for me, and Red for spots we have seen together. Blue pins far outnumber all the other colors. But today I gained a couple on him. To others, they are just 2 white pins on a map. But to me, they are 2 weeks of cultivating my heart and regaining perspective on my life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mandela Day in Paarl

18 July 2011 was Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday. In 2009, his birthday was declared Mandela International Day and is a commemoration of 67 years spent by Nelson Mandela in the effort to create a more stable, peaceful and loving South Africa for all to live in. This day was established not as a public holiday, but as a day to honor his legacy and his values through volunteering and community service. Individuals are encouraged on this day to volunteer 67 minutes of minute for each year of service by Nelson Mandela. This past Monday, Monte Christo Miqlat staff and the staffs of Pioneer Foods, Agripack, Basson & Blackburn, Drakenstein Municipality, and Frost & Sullivan joined hands to serve in several of our ministries. Their time was spent loving on and providing donations to the children at Bowy House, food preparation at our Drakenstein Food Center, and cleaning at these two facilities as well as Tiffany's Community Care Center.
In addition, Marvin White, our chef at the Food Center, was also invited to have a 67 min food session at the Drakenstein Prison with top chefs Jenny Morris, Reuben Riffel and Marco Radebe. This combined group of food masters cooked for three groups of 67 people. We were blessed to be working alongside all of these amazing people in Paarl. We look forward to serving with them soon again. You can view additional pictures of people serving on our Facebook page. Just look for us under MCM Miqlat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FACED-Feed A Child Every Day

We are in the middle of our 3-week winter school holiday in Paarl. Here, like many other rural communities, the reality is that many of the children in our most needy communities often receive their most substantial meal through their government (or private) sponsored meal program at school. Holiday times present the biggest threat to the nutrition of these hundreds of undernourished children. FACED stands for Feed A Child Every Day. The acronym was coined when key leaders in the Paarl community had a series of discussions last year revolving around community needs...particularly for children...during the World Cup. Monte Christo Miqlat decided that one of our main areas of focus needed to be food, and so we piloted a holiday feeding program during that longer World Cup holiday. The program was so well received, that we have worked to raise funds to continue offering food during the normal school holidays in 2011. Thanks to World Emergency Relief-Holland, Pioneer Foods and other private funders we are feeding over 1,800 children per day, 5 days a week during this school holiday (June 27th-July 15th) at 8 different community sites. We are blessed to be living out the vision of our Community Nutrition program...No child in our community goes to bed hungry.