The 28th of November 2023 was Giving Tuesday, a global movement of generosity. The last few years Ten Thousand Homes has focused our efforts on this day to raise a large portion of our feeding programs’ yearly budget.
Lafo Ndlovu, a TTH staff member in South Africa, was visiting one of our partner programs this past Giving Tuesday. She vividly shares about an impromptu conversation that happened with the kids. It’s powerful. It speaks of the impact of your ongoing generosity. Thank you! You make this possible.
It’s been stinkin’ hot over here in South Africa, and I really REALLY don’t do well in the heat. So, as I opened the gates to welcome the children, I was already hot and bothered. This program, this place has become a second home to me, so I was very quickly reminded of “why” I’d tackle the heat any day to be here. Then a mob of children came barreling towards me with all their questions and body heat.
I was soon pulled towards the famous Flamboyant tree where an unforgettable moment unfolded in an unscripted, unplanned Q&A.
It started when one of the kids asked if they could see their interview filmed the previous week. I hit play and suddenly we had at least 40 kids around my phone watching themselves and their friends share why they come to the program and what they aspire to be when they grow up.
As the video played, I heard kids shout out,
“Oooooh, you want to be a chef! Wow. Yeah, you make good food.”
“A policewoman; but don’t be corrupt!” “No, she won’t corrupt, she will be a sweet one.”
“A pilot?! Will you fly us to see the world?” “Yes, I want to take my family, then I will take our friends!”
“What is a FISHIN?” “A physician – he takes care of people.”
“SHHHHHHH, you can ask questions after. I want to hear my video now.”
I wanted to laugh and cry as I listened to them talk through the “movie.” This is a big part of “WHY” I do what I do.
Hearing them dream together, I curiously asked, “Why do you think we asked you to film a video?”
“To share on Facebook?”
“No, to practice how to public speak?”
“So we can be on TV?”
Those who had chosen to accept being filmed quickly spoke up:
“No, because they care about our future so they want to record to remember.”
“Yes, they want to hear our dreams because they care and they want to know how they can help or pray for us when we study for our school.”
“Yes, that’s why I had to think about my future. Because they always ask why I go to school, what I learn, and what I want to be. And now I am prepared to answer because they don’t stop asking!”
“Yes, and maybe they want to show their friends, so their friends can also help us reach our dreams.”
Before I could clarify, the next question came from one of the newcomers who was about 11 years old,
“But what about the food part, where does the food come from?”
I thought, “What a brilliant question.” I was curious to hear their thoughts. So, I put the question back to the group. One by one they shared, as the rest listened to each one attentively:
“It comes from the Americans.”
“No, it’s from the government grants.”
“Guys, we are at church – the church is providing the food!”
“No, Shoprite [a local grocery store] gives the soup and soap, but they get the meat from somewhere else because the bones are too big to fit in Shoprite.”
“God. God loves us so much. He has provided everything for me. I believe He also provided the food for us.”
“It’s Ten Thousand Homes, they are the ones who bring the food.”
“No, it’s the mamas. They bring from their homes to cook for us.”
I looked to my husband, Mzwandile, who was translating, and I knew this was a moment we’d both remember. As I tried to hold back tears, we went on to share where the food comes from:
“So, the food is not JUST provided by the Americans. The church does not receive any government funding, and I’m sure some of the spices are bought from Shoprite, but not given by Shoprite. And yes, we do love God and have faith that He is our provider, but God still needs all of us to do our part. The mamas can’t carry all this food here every day, BUT they give their time, energy, and sometimes their own money to ensure you have the best plate of food possible.
“And so, just like the mamas, the food is provided by hundreds of everyday people. Young people, old people, families, business men and women. People from South Africa to America to England to Canada to Norway to Australia, from all over the world. People who are giving what they can.
“There are South African families giving fruits and veggies and a butcher giving the meat.”
“Even South Africa?”
“YES! We have people from all over the world giving R10 or R100, some even more than R1,000.”
“YES! They all give because they see your dreams and they want to be a part of making them come true.”
The whole group sat up straighter and beamed with pride.
“They believe in you. So, if all these people believe in you but you don’t believe in yourself…”
“…We won’t make it, if we don’t first believe in ourselves,” a long-time program attendee finished.
“And we won’t make it if we don’t help our friends.”
“I didn’t know where exactly the food came from, but I knew wherever it came from it was because they cared about us.”
Another spoke up, “I also did not know where the food comes from, but I know that the mamas, the church, and Ten Thousand Homes and their friends who visit us – they come because they care.”
All of them sat there in wonder. I haven’t ever seen them that quiet for that length of time. I remembered holding some of these children as babies. They now stood before me 10 years later, strong, healthy, and bright young leaders!
Moments like this would not be possible without you. This small group in rural South Africa now knows where the food comes from: from your belief in them and their future. Thank you for believing.
Man of the world, Mzwandile, or Swazi as we like to call him, is a vital part of the Ten Thousand Homes team. A keen explorer, Swazi’s time with Ten Thousand Homes has seen him venture across Africa’s heart in far flung expeditions to Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. As well as a life changing journey to India.
Further to his role, Swazi is an exercise enthusiast whose brute physical power has attained mythic status in TTH folklore. Built like a teenage bison, Swazi undertakes a grueling regime in order to ensure he remains in peak condition. Do not be mistaken, though.
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 TTH 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.
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.
White River, South Africa
Builder, leader, legend…… Local lad, Sam, is the heartbeat of the Ten Thousand Homes maintenance team. Whether new construction, regular maintaining of the grounds, or emergency plumbing issues, Sam is is on the frontlines in the war to protect the campus.
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.
Sam’s stupendous building abilities and relentless work ethic 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 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.
White River, South Africa
Not long after visiting South Africa to build a home with TTH, Joel knew that he would be returning. In 2020, this Englishman left behind the shores of his homeland and set off into the unknown, ready to take on the adventure before him. He arrived in South Africa armed with an arsenal of power tools and the skills of a master craftsman, joining the Ten Thousand Homes team as the property manager. His eye for detail and keen sense of creativity has brought construction and development projects to life on the campus and in nearby communities.
Adventure, mixed with a healthy dose of English tea, courses through his veins. He can often be spotted charging through the dense bush with his faithful dog at his heels or scaling the side of the largest boulder in sight.
White River, South Africa
Hailing from Iowa, USA, Rebekah first came to South Africa in 2013 to participate as a student in a uVillage training program. She returned to the corn fields and started a photography and creative design business but felt the pulling back to Africa. In 2017, Rebekah, along with her 2,148 books (maybe not that many but enough to fill a small library), joined Ten Thousand Homes staff as our “pretty maker.” She is the face behind the beautiful content that we publish. Rebekah also exercises her pretty making by bringing her green thumb and all around goodness to the everyday life of the community.
Coming from a large family, Rebekah loves to entertain. Walking into her house, however, you might think you took a wrong turn to the jungle. Never fear. The love of plants is strong with this one. At least you know, while feasting on her delicious home baked foods, no one at the party will run out of oxygen.