It is with gratitude and excitement that I am writing to you today to give you an update on our Nutrition programme which you are making possible for us through your contributions!
As you are aware, the food parcels are distributed to those most vulnerable in the community. Every day they arrive and wait patiently for their turn to receive this life giving food. We are always looking for ways of improving services to the community and thought of ways we can better occupy their time while they are in the queue waiting.
This has led to the start of the “Gogo Club”. (“Gogo” is a loving term used to describe a granny.) We have discovered great talents in the elderly ladies from Missionvale! Armed with knitting needles and some wool, they now keep busy making the most beautiful items including scarves, headbands, gloves and beanies – even handbags! It is amazing to see their creations and they are so enjoying having something to do while they wait!
This is incredibly special to us to see as many of these ladies were so weak before they came onto our Nutrition Programme, that they would definitely not have been able to do anything like this before. Seeing the difference in them makes us realise again how much of an impact your generous contributions make in this special community. So on behalf of all the people in Missionvale, and especially the gogo’s, thank you for continuing to believe in us. Your support means everything.
This postcard is written by Chi Nguyen, our In-The-Field Representative who will be traveling to the nine countries of Southern Africa to meet and work with our partner organizations.
On Monday, March 17th, I was privileged to meet Linda van Oudheusden who gave me a grand tour of Missionvale Care Centre and all of its accomplishments thus far - and a grand tour it was! Missionvale Care Centre, 26 years and running, now has quite a few impressive achievements to tout, such as two health clinics on the grounds, an assembly hall for HIV/AIDS support groups as well as community events and recreational activities, a farming project, and a sizable food program for the local impoverished community, just to name a few.
Student volunteers from America were in the kitchen, busily packing food parcels of sugar, tuna, beans, tea packets, and more as rows and rows of people sat in line for their food parcels just outside. Linda and the founder of Missionvale Care Centre, Sister Ethel, tell me that their biggest challenge is to get donors to believe that food parcels are a necessary component of the program as a whole. They say that too often, donors believe that food parcels are handouts rather than a hand up, wanting instead to donate to education, HIV/AIDS medication, or the provision of life skills, but Linda and Sister Ethel reason: how can one learn and progress if one does not have enough food to first survive?
Sister Ethel shares a story close to her heart, telling me that years ago, before the food program had started, a member of the community with HIV/AIDS came to Sister Ethel and told her how sick she was feeling. Sister Ethel pleaded with her to take her medications, but she said she couldn't, that the medication made her feel sick. Sister Ethel pleaded and pleaded, but the community member said that she couldn't, that the medication only made her feel worse. She eventually passed away.
Sister Ethel was determined to live a few days in this woman's shoes. She began taking the medication herself, on an empty stomach, to figure out what went wrong. She then become violently ill herself, incapable of functioning in her normal daily activities. She then knew that she had to start a food program.
The food parcel gives the families in community the energy to grow, learn, thrive, and contribute to the community. The mothers can now tend after their children, the children can now focus in school, the women and men can now contribute to the farming projects in the community. The food program is a crucial piece in the structure of Missionvale Care Centre, and is a dynamic demonstration of the fact that one must be well before one is capable of doing well.
GLOBAL GIVING REPORT FEBRUARY 2014
This being February, we are sure you are inundated with messages of love! For us in Missionvale, love has so many different faces. It is in the sense of community, (Ubuntu as we call it). It is the love between mother and child. It is the love we have for the people we serve and the love they give us so freely in return. At Missionvale Care Centre, we express that love through practical means: education, nutrition, skills development, health care.
Through your incredible generosity, and your continued belief in us, we certainly feel extremely loved! We have just received the funding from the last quarter and we are absolutely blown away by your kindness, especially during the Christmas period! With the funding received from the last quarter alone we are able to purchase 781 food parcels! We are hugely grateful to each of you for making this possible for us.
Any nutrition project is exceptionally difficult to fundraise for. Like air, it is something that is often taken for granted – until you run out! The harsh realities of malnutrition and starvation are with us every day, and yet, it is difficult to imagine that such things are still happening in South Africa in 2014! All of our friends through Global Giving may live far away, but through your contributions you are close to our hearts and close to our mission of finding sustainable solutions for these problems.
So it is with deep gratitude, and a massive virtual hug that we say
Every year seems to go by faster and faster! Here we are in November, finishing off the work for the year and planning activities for 2014 already!
As I am writing, the Missionvale Care Centre is buzzing with activity around me and in the township we are starting to see massive transformation taking place! For the first time ever, houses are being built in Missionvale and in front of our eyes we see the Missionvale landscape changing. Dilapidated tin shacks are making room for small, but sturdy homes. We are thrilled to see this transformation! Our hope is that the new homes will bring a sense of pride and dignity to this forgotten community, and that their lives will be made a little more comfortable.
At the moment there is still no water connection to any of the homes and the community are still relying on one of the 16 communal taps for their daily water needs. And although bricks are replacing rusty tin walls, their situation essentially remains unchanged. The unemployment rate remains the same. The level of education remainsthe same. The challenge of ending the vicious cycle of poverty and despair is just as hard as before.
In my last report I mentioned the increasing cost of fuel, food and electricity. This has impacted the hardest on this community and every day we are inundated with requests for assistance. The need is far greater than what we are able to assist with.
We are only making a small difference in an area of huge need, but that difference would not be possible without your support. It is your belief in us and your kindness and generosity that has kept us going. Without it, we would not exist. We can never find enough words to thank you for all you have done for us during 2013. Our hope isthat you will be blessed this festive season and continue to be a blessing to others in 2014.
With love and gratitude from all of us in Missionvale, South Africa
It is with deep gratitude that we write to all of you to thank you for your continued support of our mission. Because of you we have nearly reached the $7500 mark through Global Giving towards our Nutrition & Wellness Project! It is so wonderful every time we get the email from Global Giving notifying us that another donation has been made! And like clockwork, every quarter, they duly transfer it into our account and we are filled with unbelievable joy knowing that there are people in the world, many miles away, who have the heart and thedesire to make a difference in our area of biggest need.
At the moment, we are concentrating very hard on fundraising for food. It has been hard going as the fuel pricecontinues to escalate. For example, in 2011 our weekly food parcels cost R23 (±$2.70) each, in 2012 it went up to R26 (±$3.05) and our quote for food parcels for the remainder of 2013 has escalated to a huge R32 (±$3.76) each!
Naturally, the people affected most by the price increases, are the people we serve in Missionvale; the poorest of the poor. For them, the R1 (±$0.11) increase per loaf of bread hits the hardest. This means a higher demand asmore and more people are struggling to survive.
It is only because of people like you that we have been able to meet some of their needs and for that we can never thank you enough. Once a person has eaten, they can face the many other challenges they are confronted with.
It is winter in South Africa at the moment, and although we do not experience snow and ice like many of you, the night air can be bitterly cold especially when you are living in a poorly insulated shack. For most of us, winter can be a lovely time to snuggle up with a hot cup of tea after a long bath before climbing into bed with the electric blanketon! For our beneficiaries, none of this is possible. First they have to make the long walk to the tap to get cold water to bring back to the house. If, like last night, it has been raining, there is almost no way of heating the water as the people are unable to build a fire in the pouring rain. A few people have paraffin stoves, but can barely afford the paraffin that is needed to fuel it. And when they do, a horrible black smoke fills the entire house. So for most people in Missionvale, on a cold and rainy night, there is no comfort, no escape. They arrive here at the Care Centre then the next morning, often drenched and their feet covered in mud, and throughout the crowd you can hear the endless coughing and coughing. It is a grim picture, but it is their reality.
I hope that every one of you reading this will take comfort in knowing that your contribution to Global Giving is going directly towards helping these people. That because of you their suffering is made a little lighter. And most importantly, because of you they have some hope!
We are starting to recognise the names on the disbursement lists we receive – some of you we have never met, some are old and treasured friends. It is very important to us that you know how special you are to us, and how much we appreciate everything you do for us. Every day, Sister Ethel lights a candle in her prayer room and dedicates time to giving thanks for having you in our lives. You are all very close to her heart and to the hearts of the people in Missionvale. Thank you.
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