Saturday, November 12, 2011

From a runaway to a community role model!

We would like to introduce to you Ursula Plaatjies. Just 21 years old, Ursula has gone through a long, hard road to get to the amazing place that she is today. Raised by a single mother, Ursula’s mother died when she was just 15 years old. As anyone would imagine, it was a very hard time for her. Although she was taken in by her Aunt Susie and Caroline, it was a difficult environment for her. She said ‘she had a lot of loneliness sitting inside of her.’ Unfortunately, she became a ‘runaway’ kind of girl…just wanting to be somewhere where she could be by herself. But she would always return to her aunt’s home in the end. A self-proclaimed tomboy, Ursula was always the girl that was playing soccer in the streets when she was younger. At 17, she heard that there were some ‘club’ soccer teams being put together in Paarl East. She decided to go after the opportunity…a big turning point in her life. She fell in love with being a part of a team, and said that it became her family (she is pictured here with her team...back row, fifth from the right). As she became more and more involved, she found that she wasn’t as sad anymore…not dwelling as often on the fact that she did not have a mother or a father.

In July of 2010, Ursula said that she was visited by an angel from America. For two weeks, Ursula had the opportunity to work side by side with Hayley McNeil (see earlier blog story posted on July 27, 2011), and was a part of helping to create a 2 ½ by 10 meter giant mural that is now displayed at the entrance to our MCM Sports Park in Paarl East (they were even featured in the Paarl Past that week...pictured left). In Ursula’s words, she was so blessed by her time with Hayley. She said “Hayley was the first American that took the time to invest in an African kid like her.” She also said that in a way, Hayley was an answer to the prayers she had been praying to God.

Through her club team, as well as this mural painting experience, Ursula started thinking more about her future. She decided that she wanted to 1) go to university, 2) teach kids how to work with paint, and 3) be a coach and mentor to other kids as they engaged in sport. Throughout 2011, Ursula has been an active volunteer in our Coaching 1000 program in our Sports and Recreation ministry (learn more about our Coaching 1000 Program at, and spends time every school day in 3 different primary schools. She is involved in providing fitness training in the physical education classes, hands on instruction in the Arts and Culture section as well as Life Orientation segment. And she works closely with the teachers in grading students on their performance as well.

Additionally, Ursula has been working towards a Human Resources degree, and just finished taking exams for her Computer Skills and Communications classes. She is 6 months into a 3 year program, and looks forward to completing her HR certificate someday. Twice a week, she volunteers in our community gym at Tiffany’s Community Care Center, instructing members how to train properly. By far, one of her favorite responsibilities is creating the monthly ‘theme’ banners at Tiffany’s such as the one pictured here…”God is Love.”

Indeed, Ursula has been experiencing God’s love in a big way. We are blessed to have her as a part of our Monte Christo Miqlat family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Celebrating our partner of 3 years...PSFA!

Since 1958, for more than 50 years, the Peninsula Schools Feeding Association (PSFA) has been providing meals to hungry children in primary, secondary and special-needs schools in the Western Cape Province. In November 2008, Monte Christo Miqlat became one of PSFA’s partners. Rikus Nieuwenhuis, Operations Manager for PSFA shares that "our dry ingredients are delivered to Monte Christo Miqlat's Drakenstein Food Center where their friendly staff prepare the meals according to our requirements and guidelines. Deliveries of warm meals are made daily to 2,371 learners in 15 identified schools in the Boland and northern suburbs" most of which do not receive government funding. The meals are prepared by Monte Christo Miqlat's night shift (which operates from 23:00 until 8:00) and include a variety of nutritious ingredients such as samp & beans, soya, vegetables and rice, pilchards and samp and fresh fruit like apples, oranges, or other kinds of fruit donated by nearby farmers. Every morning at 6:30, a courier picks up buckets with prepared food and distributes these buckets to the aforementioned schools. We are blessed to be in partnership with PSFA as we work together to feed so many children every day. For more information about our partner, Peninsula Schools Feeding Association, go to