Smiling kids. Plates of food. Fun activities. All of these things paint the well-known picture of the After School Programs that we help facilitate in Clau Clau and Embonisweni. But providing a place where children feel safe, receive a nutritious meal, and have space to learn and grow starts long before they set foot in the care centers. A lesser known fact is that there are hours of preparation that go into every single program. It starts with a group of dedicated women, a lot of prayer, and a grey Condor.
We are so thankful for everyone who partners with us to make these programs possible. From the ladies who run the programs, to our short term volunteers, to the local businesses who donate food, to those who give financially, to those who faithfully join us in prayer – all of you are so very vital in building HOPE and HOME for these precious kids. Thank you for investing in the next generation of world-changers!
Unlike the majority of TTH’s American contingent, gentle giant Jared is not a gun toting, rootin’ tootin’ southerner. Jared, or ‘JROD,’ is from Michigan and joined our family full-time in 2014 after completing a Season of Service and Discipleship Training School. Since joining us permanently, Jared has slotted seamlessly into the TTH Community Development team. His ever increasing involvement in the planning and execution of our various After School Programmes is reflected by the introduction of a Tutoring class to our programme in Embonisweni. Now a mandatory feature of the ASP, this Tutoring facet was the brainchild of our man from Michigan who oversaw its development from idea into reality. Unusually, Jared is both a chronic sleep walker and talker. If ever you find yourself bedding down in the guys’ bedchamber and hear a bout of crazed laughter emanating from the corner of the room, fear not. This is not a manifestation of the spirit. It is simply Jared enjoying a particularly exciting night time fantasy.
Shy guy, Lennon, is another Siswati local who, since meeting us in 2009, has developed into an important cog in the TTH behemoth. Lennon first appeared on our radar during a building project in his home community Embonisweni. His jovial persona and love for all things American saw him strike up an immediate friendship with the TTH building team. The seeds of a beautiful relationship had been sewn and following graduation from his DTS in 2010, Lennon joined us on a permanent basis. Earlier this year, Lennon was appointed as the head of our accounts department. ‘The Tiger of TTH’ possesses a shrewd business mind with some commentators even describing him as a Siswati Gordon Gecko. As is true for many Siswati bachelors, Lennon has an enormous family. A recent head count revealed him to have 29 brothers, 36 sisters, 23 aunts, 12 uncles, 45 nephews, 18 nieces, and 1 dog.
Man of the world, Mzwandile or Swazi as we like to call him, is the leader of TTH’s Training department. He is responsible for structuring and co-ordinating the Discipleship Training School’s (DTS) that are run from our South Africa base. A keen explorer, these schools have seen Swazi venture to Africa’s dark heart in far flung expeditions to Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya.
Further to his role as Training overlord, Swazi is an exercise enthusiast whose brute physical power has attained mythic status in TTH folklore. Built like a teenage bison, Swazi undertakes a gruelling regime in order to ensure he remains in peak condition. Do not be mistaken, though. His chiselled physique is not merely for aesthetic purposes. Swazi often utilises his herculean brawn to exact gruesome retribution on any snakes that pervade the hallowed TTH turf.
Hewn from the most rustic Texan oak, Jeremy is one of Ten Thousand Homes’ founding fathers. He is part of the fabric of our organisation and has played a key role in the conception and development of the TTH family. Jeremy was there on that most momentous of days nearly ten years ago when we erected our first home in a destitute South African slum. In his spare time ‘Jezza’ can often be found with a guitar in his hands and a melody on his lips. A skilled singer songwriter, his recent polemic ‘From The Woods’ is a chilling work capable of rendering the most cold blooded listener a quivering, foetal wreck. A must for any lover of the arts.
Jen is the doting wife of TTH czar, Jeremy. She is the Cleopatra to his Anthony, the omega to his alpha, the ocean breeze to his desert heat. A Jack of all trades, Jen has her fingers in many pies across the U-Village campus. As well as providing spiritual guidance to our often wayward female contingent, Jen is an events guru. She is the brains behind TTH’s thriving social scene and has planned numerous evenings of raucous entertainment. The Valentine’s banquet, Colour Party, and Easter masquerade would not have come to fruition without Jen’s expertise. In addition to her stoic organizational talents, Jen also dabbles in more expressive pursuits. Following a chance meeting with Michael Jackson on a teenage jaunt to Disneyworld, she became enthralled by the art of dance. Now an accomplished break-dancer, Jen wows the TTH family with an ensemble of gravity defying moves at both dance parties and during times of worship.
Adventurous artist, Phoebe, sprinkles some much needed wanderlust on TTH. Adorned with an amalgamation of tribal tattoos, piercings and a mane of lustrous dreads, Phoebe is an artist in body as well as mind. She comments; “My body, mind, and spirit are a canvas which I must paint with the colour of life.”
Phoebe’s affinity with the natural world can perhaps be explained by her start in life. Birthed into the hinterlands of the Montana wilderness, Phoebe was raised by a pack of wolves. Alongside her wolf brethren, the bulk of Phoebe’s formative years were spent roaming the snow-capped foothills of Montana. Indeed, such was the depth at which Phoebe had been indoctrinated into wolfdom she did not speak a lick of English until she was 13.
Local girl, Felicia, first met Ten Thousand Homes in 2012 whilst working as a Home Based Care volunteer in nearby community, eDwaleni. Since that joyous day, Felicia’s relationship with TTH has flourished into a beautiful matrimony; so much so she is now part of the furniture here at our South Africa headquarters. After graduating from a Discipleship Training School at TTH, Felicia with her son, local rapscallion Macbeth, moved to our base permanently in 2013. She is now a pivotal member of our kitchen team where her jovial character and earth quaking laughter supply her and the other chefs with endless entertainment.
Builder, leader, legend…… Local lad, Sam, is the heartbeat of the TTH grounds team. Whether unclogging toilets saturated with human waste or vanquishing the scores of mongoose that terrorise our kitchen, Sam is commander-general in the war to protect U-Village.
Following a chance meeting, Sam landed himself a temporary gardening role at TTH. It wasn’t long before Sam was promoted to a full-time position in our grounds team. Two years on and Sam completed his inexorable rise through the TTH pyramid when he was appointed as suzerain over the TTH grounds staff.
Sam’s stupendous building abilities and relentless work rate are matched only by the size of his heart. He is passionate about giving back to the communities from whose loins he was birthed. In addition to leading the TTH grounds team, Sam is the spearhead of an initiative that seeks to provide sanitary towels, stationery, and uniforms for downtrodden female students in local high schools.