In last month’s GoodStoreys, Lafo Ndlovu, a TTH staff member in South Africa, shared about an impactful time at one of our partner feeding programs this past Giving Tuesday. If you missed it, you can read the story here.
The impact of the meals doesn’t stop at kids knowing that you believe in their futures. It goes even further. Read on for the continuation…
This past year, I have seen these kids step up in leadership, and not just at the after-school program. They have loved and supported each other through school and life. They have respected each other’s bodies and personal space by listening rather than fighting or bullying. We are so proud of the young leaders that they are and that they are continually becoming.
I didn’t know if I would have another chance like this, so I challenged the group with one last question:
“You say that some kids come because they need food, and some come because they know it’s safe because it’s not always safe at home. And you say some come here to make good friends, friends that help them with everything, right?
“What about the days this program isn’t running? The days you are not here? Do you know those kids who really need food? Who really need a friend? Who need a safe place to run to?”
Some of the loudest kids went very quiet and there was a stillness across the group. I didn’t mention it to make anyone uncomfortable, but it felt right and it felt safe enough to keep going.
“No, Sesi Lafo, we don’t know.”
I continued, “I think our next challenge is maybe we can find out if one of our friends is one of those people and…”
The kids chimed in, “And then we can make sure we can try to help them on Mondays and Fridays!”
“And Saturdays and Sundays!”
“I can share my snacks!”
“I can go and help him with his chores!”
“We care too, Sesi Lafo!”
It was at that very moment that I looked around and saw the “after-meal” impact.
It was a moment that encapsulated the past 10 years of growth. I could see the growth in their confidence, character, and unity with one another as well as the expansion in their worldview and their knowledge of what they can dream and aspire to.
These kids have grown in awareness of who they are and the value of caring for their neighbour, and it gave me hope for the present and future generations.
This is what I’m here for.
Because of people like you who are committed to seeing a world where every family has the opportunity to thrive, we have seen kids healthy and strong, graduate, become employed, build their own businesses, and continue to be evidence that dreams can be their reality. We have seen bullies become nurturing leaders and enemies turn into best friends. And on that hot November day, we got to see a group of 40 boys and girls commit to how they too can make a difference in their communities.
Thank you for providing a basic human right to a generation that is full of world-changing potential. Thank you for being a part of this community and for investing and believing in their dreams and their futures. Whatever your reason for partnering with us – thank you for understanding that the meal is a vital start to the ‘‘after-meal,” life-changing impact.
Thank you for being the reason these kids can say, “We care too!”
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.