So it is now official that the Branken family are full time in our community work. The model we are using to fund our work is mainly through the contribution of friends. At the moment, we are still quite short of our monthly budget and so would really value you considering a monthly contribution to our work or a once off financial contribution to get us started.
Here are the details of how you can contribute.
4 years ago today on the 15th July 2012...
As we were arriving home from church, about a block away from our home, there was a large crowd gathering. I got Trish to drop me off and went to see what was happening. I noticed that a man was standing on the 8th floor ledge of a building. The windows behind him to gain access back into the building were closed. People were just standing around watching and taking pictures with their cell phones.
I phoned the emergency services and first spoke to the fire brigade who said "what can we do?". When I said "get out here and help the man", they put the phone down. I then spoke to the police. At this point the crowd had started shouting at the man... some even encouraging him to jump. The police then also put the phone down as they could not hear me over the crowd. I then tried them again and this time they agreed to come through but they could not tell me how long they would take. I realized I needed to intervene before the man jumped.
I went to some security guards, told them I was a social worker and asked them to come with me. We ran up the 8 flights of stairs and realized that he was on the ledge outside a locked flat. The flat tenant was not there so we broke the security gate and door of the flat and went inside.
I spoke to the man from a distance and then got closer to him. I tried to keep him calm and just kept sharing love with him. He had a large gash in his neck and he told me some people were trying to murder him and that he wanted to tell his story to the court. I told him I would help him to tell his story. About 20 minutes in to talking to him, the police arrived - they told me that they did not have a negotiator nearby and asked me to keep talking to the man. I shared with him God's love. We spoke for over an hour and I ended up praying with him. He was encouraged and even asked me to look him up on Facebook while he was on the ledge. As I looked at his profile on my blackberry, he seemed to relax and agreed to come in. He then came in through the window to the cheers of the crowd below.
As I walked with him to the ambulance most of the, by now massive crowd cheered in excitement, I could not believe, however, what other people were saying to him. They shouted at him saying that he was stupid to try to take his life and swore at him and generally insulted him. All the time I held the man.
In the ambulance, the very caring emergency staff treated his neck and then we took him to check his wounds at the emergency unit at the Hillbrow clinic. Some of his family members were there and they agreed to stay with him. The doctor I spoke to said that she would refer him to the hospital and admit him as she was concerned he would try to take his life again. I then left him in the care of the hospital staff and his family.
About 2 1/2 hours later, I received a call from a family member to say he had run away from the hospital and was threatening to jump again. A friend, Sifiso, and I rushed back to the building, but we were too late, he had jumped. His body was still breathing and so we touched him and spoke loving words and his life ebbed away. We spent a little while comforting his father and brother who were in disbelief about the events and then we returned home.
I am deeply saddened by all that happened today, but know that he experienced some love during all the trauma. These are difficult times with few workers to care for the hurting and broken in this city.
Rest well Delight Ndlovu!
We went out onto the streets on 14 July to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe as they marched to the embassy demanding change in the country. I have never been to a march with so much emotions. It felt as if people were worn down after so many decades of corruption and abuse of power. The cries of people in this video reminded me of many of the biblical cries of the Egyptians in exile and Moses crying out... "Let my people go!"
Just a few days before I spoke to Advocate Gabriel Shumba to ask what we could all do to support Zimbabweans at this time. Here is the interview with him where he gives some background to some of the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in his country and calls for international solidarity.
This logo designed by Josiah Wedgewood in 1787 was designed for a UK based slavery abolitionist NGO. "Am I not a man and a brother" then became a catchphrase for the movement to end slavery in both the UK and America. It calls us to recognize the humanity of those who were enslaved, many of whom were from Africa.
This work for dignity is rooted in the belief that human beings are created in the image of God and as such have infinite worth. When we dehumanize people and treat "them" as "the other", it allows us to diminish the value of precious image bearers of God and treat them in ways that fail to recognize us and the image of God in them.
When we say#BlackLivesMatter in the USA, we are joining in this historical call to affirm the humanity of #BlackLives, many of whom are the descendants of those who were victims of the dehumanizing slave trade. We are joining the centuries long struggle and calling for the treatment of all people as valuable image bearers of God. We are saying that the systemic racism that allows dehumanization, prejudice, stereotyping and all the abhorrent abusive and violent acts that follow must end because #BlackLivesMatter... they did in 1787 and they do now in 2016! #BlackLivesMatter!!!
A "computer to each home" was started by my buddy Benjamin van Zyl... The idea he had was to refurbish second hand (but not e-waste/ too old) computers and get them into as many homes in our neighborhood as possible. Today we handed out 11 computers to neighbours who have been attending our computer course... The computers were refurbished by another neighbor. Payment was made by a commitment to #PayItForward