You can bring joy to vulnerable children in South Africa
In a South African township, Fr Ephraim is empowering a community to take control of its future.
With limited electricity and water supplies, no funds to keep livestock or grow vegetables, Tumahole Township experiences all the problems of poverty. Unemployment, drug misuse and alcoholism are common.
Back in 2009, Mamie set up a project here to help orphaned and vulnerable children. With five volunteers, she ran an outreach project based in the township which provided a safe haven, a meal and a place to make friends. But by 2013, all the volunteers except Mamie had left, leaving her to run the project alone. It seemed certain it would close.
Feet that bring good news
Then Fr Ephraim became parish priest. When a new parish centre was built, with help from Missio supporters, Fr Ephraim offered the space to Mamie and helped fund and run her project.
Fr Ephraim looks after two parishes: St John the Baptist and St Joseph’s. He empowers parishioners to get involved in their community. A Parish Development Committee at each church determines which homes in the parish need support.
Every Saturday, Mamie’s team at St Joseph’s looks after up to 60 children. A sister project at St John’s helps similar numbers. The projects serve children regardless of faith, relying on donations of food, clothes, books and money. Those donations mean children can catch up on their homework, read, and play in safety.
Modiehi, a volunteer with the St John’s centre, explains children often struggle to do their homework at home. Many live with grandparents or in households where older children look after younger siblings. Like all the volunteers she cares deeply about the children and wants to make life better. She says, ‘I can do everything with Christ who gives me strength’.
Mamie says Fr Ephraim inspires her. ‘He tells us all things will pass except love,’ she says. ‘He tells us to listen to the Word of God at Mass and asks us questions so we think about our faith.’ Mamie is motivated to keep running the programme by ‘love of the children and my faith.’ She loves the parable of the Good Samaritan and says Fr Ephraim helped deepen her understanding of it. She likes the fact that the Good Samaritan’s name is not mentioned, ‘because it’s not important. What’s important is his deeds – not his name or status’.
Despite the challenges Tumahole faces, Fr Ephraim is leading his Church to bring the light of Jesus to families in need. ‘You have to find the joy in everything,’ he says. And given the love which is shared from the church through this community, that joy is not hard to find.
Every pound, penny and prayer you give to Missio helps parishes like Fr Ephraim’s thrive, providing practical and spiritual help where it is most needed. Please help us let more poor families know they are loved, by God and by us. Donate today>>