Today saw the meeting together, at our very conveniently-placed and generously-offered Lutheran Church meeting room, of 15 people from places including Durban, Cape Town, Bertrams, Hillbrow, London, USA, Midrand , Brixton and Norwood, to have combined conversations about HUMAN TRAFFICKING around the world, but specifically targeting the Inner City areas of Joburg. Inspired to "get our hands dirty" as we form friendships on all sides of this desperate situation...Face to face with people God loves deeply...Press fast forward on those dreams for safe child-friendly spaces in and around our city's buildings! ...And thank you, Ty Curran!
Today we visited the enormous and recently renovated Joburg Central library, cnr of President and Sauer streets...Wow! What an amazing place for kids in the city to use after school for homework, extra reading, projects etc. Their music section was not yet up and running but they have 2 free art classes for kids as part of their art dept, currently running on a Tues pm from 2 - 5 ( for Gr 3-6) and on Saturdays from 9.30 - 12.30 for kids aged between 4 and 13! We will definitely be trying these out starting from next week! Loving all the free stuff the city has to offer...!
Well an exciting week has started. Today we had early childhood development training at the Central Methodist Church for the crèche staff provided by the staff of the Hillbrow Clinic. It continues on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday we have a workshop on combatting human trafficking and then Thursday the moms at the central Methodist church receive training on child development. Busy, busy, busy!!!
We so enjoyed having a team from The Crossing Church with us on Friday. After a visit at our flat, we went to the place where I was held up earlier in the week and handed out fish and chips to street vendors and homeless people. We showered the streets with love. We can't choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to respond. As I reflect on the last week, I have to say that it was in the end a great week, one in which love won!
Today was a day of paying it forward! As a result of a group of our friends painting and kitting out a room at the Hillbrow Clinic rehab section a few weeks back, those same OT and speech therapy staff who had received the gift, paid it forward to the CENTRAL METHODIST CHURCH creche staff today, by starting a 3-day workshop in Early Childhood Development for them.
This will include not only a detailed analysis of milestones from birth to 6 years but also working out a daily schedule of teaching for them and their kids. On Wednesday they will also make toys for their kids' development and stimulation out of waste materials they have collected. Then on Thursday the moms will have a chance to learn how to better play with their children and teach them in the early years. I enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of both the clinic and the creche staff ladies as they looked forward to the implementation of these new ideas in their daily programme. They currently teach/care for 59 kids from the area.
Narushka giving some stimulation to a 10 month old baby...
Well, it seems we have begun a tour operation here on the streets of Hillbrow as people have started to contact us to find out what we are doing in this unlikely place! Here we are standing with leaders from The Crossing Church in Midrand, in front of the site that USED to be filled with rubbish...until Nigel Branken started investigating...!
This tour included a long stop at the local Fish and Chips Co. while we waited for up to 30 meal packs to distribute freely among the poorer on the pavements close by, another way of sowing love back into the area where Nigel was held up. The church leaders also started praying for various people, including one heroine addict. Now this is church!
Yesterday, Nigel was held up in his car at gun-point at about 5.30pm just around the corner from us and had his cell phone taken. He is a bit shaken but is fine. I'm grateful that he is alive and we know that God is in control. His friend came all the way out from Pretoria to offer support, and together they went onto the streets and organised a group of street vendors to go with them to the same place where this event occurred. They prayed together for the area, the safety of our community and the offender. We are still convinced we need to be here and also know God loves this community, each one, including the man who held the gun.
Small blessings came to us today: a friend of Jordan gave him a big car and another toy, and today 2 kids, upstairs playing in our flat, ran up to us as we walked in at the front door and gave us big hugs and smiles! We really live among some very sweet people!
Last night some of the Brankens (and lots of invited friends!) braved the "not-so-cold" night and slept on the lawns of the Lutheran Church in solidarity with the poor and homeless in the city, an initiative organised by MES Aksie. Much fun was had by all! Last year was definitely colder...