Growing up in South Africa || an interview with Lennon

Lennon Malambe has been on staff with Ten Thousand Homes for the past 8 years. He grew up in Mbonisweni, one of the local communities we now work in. Today, we’d like to share with you his perspective on growing up in South Africa.

What was it like growing up in Mbonisweni?

“It was an experience, I must say. It was fun. When I grew up, in that time, there was not much to do so you [had] to create your own stuff…it allowed us to be more creative, and that was really good. Sometimes you didn’t have soccer balls, so you got to make [them] with plastic balls so you can enjoy soccer, which we did!”

What are aspects of your childhood that you are really thankful for?

“I’m thankful for the people I was surrounded with. Family, friends, and everybody. I mean, even in the community, there was just that “ubuntu” – the concept of everybody coming together at all times and helping one another. So that’s the thing that I’m really grateful about. That has really helped a lot in life.”


What were some of the challenges?

“Challenges growing up in Mbonisweni were, like I said, you don’t have enough resources as a child. As a school kid, you have assignments that need resources you don’t have. You don’t have a library in Mbonisweni…Water, that would be the most challenging thing that we faced a lot in Mbonisweni.”

What are some of the differences you see between your childhood and the current generation of youth?

“There’s a lot of differences with technology coming into place. People, they are more into the interweb than we used to be. We never thought about having internet…There’s still a lot of challenges. [For example] school, I think education can develop more – but I think it has, with the internet and even with the new ways things are done. It has helped a lot of the kids to grow in their education. There’s also after school programs now; we didn’t have after school programs at that time. There’s always something for kids now to do and a place where they can grow, which we never [had]. We always had to be finding our own way of growing.”


How did your childhood influence your decision to join TTH?

“I’m an orphan. My parents passed away when I was young. I had a house, and I had people that cared for me – my sisters, who I’m grateful for. And that changed a lot. Before I even met Ten Thousand Homes, we already started to collect clothes with some of the guys. We saw that we needed to do something in the community. We just didn’t have much, [but] we were like, okay, we can ask people for clothes. People always have clothes they are wanting to give away, so we started to collect clothes and give them to the schools in Mbonisweni. And then Ten Thousand Homes came in and they wanted to build a house for a family who needed a house. So we helped in that way.

“So, I think that was already a shift that was happening. [There’s a time when] you realize your life is going to look different than you thought it might look. So I think that’s how I ended up coming to where I am today in Ten Thousand Homes – because of those small things like helping with clothes, then helping with the house, and then doing the DTS (Discipleship Training School).”

What is something you want to pass on to this generation of youth?

“The most powerful thing that I’ve learned in the years is knowing your story, knowing who you are. If you know who you are, where you’re coming from and where you want to go, I think that’s really going to change a lot of things in your life. You’ll know what you stand for.”


With being heavily involved in the After School Programs, what impact have you seen it making in the lives of the youth?

“It looks little sometimes…but I think what is important in this is the excellence of it. I believe just allowing the kids to see that we believe in them, that has really impacted how they live their lives and how [they] pursue learning. Some of them, it will take time, but you can see that they see it’s important.”


We want to invest in a generation of world-changers. As a part of our global TTH community, you are a part of this. We have an opportunity to empower local South Africans through our upcoming discipleship school, and would like to invite you to sponsor a student. Email for details.


interview & photography by Rebekah Ness