During a visit last month to Christel House South Africa, our Christel House CFO had a conversation with a circle of kindergarteners. One of the students told a story about how his brother had recently been “shot in the butt.” Although the circle of children chuckled raucously at the placement of the shot, the reality of this situation was not at all humorous. After the first child shared his story, each student in the circle followed by detailing how they had also seen or experienced a shooting firsthand. At the age of five or six, these children had lived through a tragic life experience most of us could hardly fathom. This shared story was commonplace for these kids.
While many of us this holiday season, will worry about what we are going to make for Christmas dinner, buy for that certain someone, or wear to our company party, many Christel House children will continue to worry about whether there will be anything to eat for dinner, if they will sleep on the lumpy mat or the dirt floor, or whether anyone in the family will have too much to drink and come home to beat them.
No child should be in constant concern over his or her safety or basic needs. They should be concerned with learning how to read, write, give and share.
Our mission at Christel House is to help these kids, families, and future generations escape poverty… forever.
We can’t do this without your help. This month, Global Giving has introduced a matching program for all Recurring Gifts. This means that if you make a pledge in December to give a small monthly donation to Christel House, Global Giving will match this amount in December, doubling your contribution and impact at this important time of the year.
Would you consider making a year-end gift or a year-long pledge this giving season? Any amount, big or small, can make a tremendous difference.
Give. Transform a life.
Like many of our students, Kristen’s early childhood education was interrupted by deprivation and family obligations. Even at a young age, she was burdened with looking after her younger siblings and trying to help her family survive.
When she began attending Christel House, Kristen struggled with scars of anger and frustration from her childhood. For her, Christel House quickly became a place of hope and healing.
“The teachers and other kids were very kind, like family,” Kristen reflects. “At this school, I learned how to deal with what I had been feeling.”
While attending Christel House, Kristen was introduced to fencing. She used the sport as a method to channel her frustration and overcome her past. She flourished and competed nationally and internationally.
After graduating from Christel House in 2010, she began a Bachelor’s degree in Sports, Recreation and Exercise Science at the University of the Western Cape. She put her studies on hold temporarily to participate in a professional coaching course in Dakar, Senegal. She is now a “Master Coach in Arms” and one of only four fencing coaches in South Africa. She is also certified by the Fencing Federation to coach anywhere in the world.
“My aim is to develop sport, specifically fencing, in my own country,” Kristen says proudly. “I’m going to share what I’ve learned and make a real difference.”
“Everyday I see so many girls my age walking around with no vision and no dreams,” writes Chandne, who is determined that she will not be one of them. At the age of eight, Chadne told her mother, “I never want to struggle like you.” True to her word, she became Christel House South Africa’s 2011 top-achieving graduate and walked away with the school’s top honor, a Christel Award. “Sometimes I just can’t believe how much I have achieved despite my background and circumstances.”
After her graduation, Chadne began studying civil engineering at Sutherland Civil Engineering. Based on performance, she will receive a bursary to assist Chadne financially while she continues her education at a university.
Chadne’s story is just one in a multitude of success stories from this year’s CHSA graduating class. This year, like the past three years, 100% of Christel House South Africa’s students passed their Matriculation exam, a graduation exam given to South African seniors. But they didn’t just pass - 70.8% achieved a “bachelor’s pass” distinction, and more than half had results good enough to secure bursaries or scholarships. Compared to South Africa’s national pass rate of 70.2% and the national bachelor’s pass rate of 24.3%, these results are outstanding.
“I can remember my first day at Christel House,” Chadne reminisces. “It was the best day ever. The teachers welcomed us with so much warmth and understanding. At CHSA I’ve learned to be a strong, positive leader. I know it’s up to me to be responsible. When people try to break my spirit with words or negative actions, I can hold my head up high. I am a strong, focused and goal-oriented person. I know what I want to accomplish in life.”
Although she was only six at the time, Lericia remembers living on the streets with her mother and siblings after her father died in prison and the family lost its house. “The worst part was the constant hunger and not being able to wash,” she reflects.
A local church provided the children a shipping crate in which to make a home—it was dry, and relatively safe. And, they were asked to come to Christel House where they were provided with healthy meals, medical care, clean clothing and a place to shower, and most importantly--an education and teachers who showed encouragement and support.
When her mother died four years ago, Lericia became head of the household. A 2009 graduate of Christel House, Lericia is studying at university to become a teacher. She wants to inspire young people to never give up on their dreams. “I want to tell them, become goal-driven. Don’t limit yourself to matric—aim higher. Get an education, earn good money and then give back to your community.”
Thank you so much for all you do to support the children of Christel House. Without your support, Lericia and other children like her would face a much different future. 100% of all donations go directly towards programs for the children of Christel House.
No Obstacle is Too Big!
Living in the slums of Cape Town with his two sisters and his mother has not stopped Gopal from working hard to achieve his dream of going to college. A 16 year old student at Christel House, this determined young man participates in sports and art, loves music and is always willing to lend a helping hand.
Gopal's mother, a widow, works very long hours as a domestic helper, earning a meager $67 per month. Food is a luxury at times. Living conditions are nearly unbearable. Yet Gopal, according to his teacher, is a diligent student. "He has grown into a responsible individual. He is extremely enthusiastic. He will do very well in the future," she boasts. "He has great leadership qualities. We have a lot of faith in Gopal."
Had he not come to Christel House, Gopal strongly believes his life would have turned out very different. "Christel House has given me the opportunity to grow and develop into a better human being. The school has made me more responsible and has enabled me to acquire skills that will help me to face the world in the future," says Gopal.
Gopal's dream is to attend college to become an engineer and support his family. "I love my school and my teachers who have taught me everything that I need to know to face the challenges of life. I know that I will be able to overcome whatever obstacles I have in front of me. I am very lucky to be here."
You can help Gopal and other Christel House students' dreams of going to college come true. When you donate to Christel House 100% of your donation directly benefits the children. At Christel House, no contributions are used to fund overhead or administrative costs. Thank you so much for your continued support. Every donation makes an impact on our Christel House South Africa kids and their future. Together, we truly are breaking the cycle of poverty one student at a time.
For more information, visit our website at www.christelhouse.org.
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