The Branken family has been on an extended sabbatical and have been living in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg for the past 10 months getting freshly inspired. In January 2019 they will be returning to Hillbrow to start a new Neighbours site. They are fresh and ready with lots of new ideas.
Watch the video below to learn more about their work and find out how you can help.
Please consider committing to giving once off, monthly or both by following one of the links below. They currently need:
- R 35,000 for relocation costs (for various deposits and the move)
- R 35,000 additional monthly support for the work. If you feel you can contribute towards either of these please click on one of the links below.
You can also use the following bank account to make a direct donation to support Neighbours. Be sure to use your email address as the reference so that we can properly allocate your donation and send you a receipt.
Account name: Neighbours
Bank: ABSA Bank
Account number: 9310110831
Branch code: 632005
SWIFT code: ABSAZAJJ
Reference for donation: Your email address
In July 2017 our family embarked on a much-needed, sabbatical from our work in Hillbrow. It has been very beneficial and healthy to each of us to be able to get away from it all initially, then to be able to reflect about what we've done in Hillbrow over the last five years and lastly realign ourselves with where we are headed to in the future. To this end, from the beginning of July last year we took 5 of our 6 kids out of their schools, bought a caravan and set off on a trip to explore different parts of South Africa, returning to Joburg in December. We also visited family in Cape Town while staying for 2 months at caravan parks near different beaches, which added some salty sea air to our refreshment.
For the last ten months, since January this year, we have been staying in Northriding, Joburg, close to our church, and catching up with friends there. Our children have also been attending the school on the church campus during this time. It has been a restful time.
After much thought, prayer and conversation, in the last 3 months we have felt inspired again by God to return to our work in Hillbrow. We have found an area we believe is suitable just across the road from Hillbrow in Park Lane (near the Brenthurst Clinic) We believe this will be more sustainable for us as a family, as it will allow us to still be close to the people and issues of the inner city while living in a place that both refreshes and strengthens us to face those challenges. Our children are also looking forward to returning to their previous schools from the beginning of next year.
Our initial focus back into Hillbrow will be to give a fresh injection of life into the Blauwberg Learning Centre, which we started in September 2012, by holding some visioning and planning meetings with the current volunteers and seeing where their needs are and how we can help. We will also be reuniting with old friends and co-workers into the area with a view to deepening our relationships with them and supporting eachother in our work. More on these plans and others later.
In conclusion we feel really excited about returning to Hillbrow and are looking forward to seeing where God leads us through it all!
Gugu Nxumalo is an amazing friend of ours who has asked us to share her story. She is a young, vibrant 18-year-old Zimbabwean woman living in the bustling, overcrowded inner-city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her infectious hope stands in stark contrast to her story which is one filled with tragedy and revealing of the systemic failings and injustices in our context. Despite this she has also remarkably overcome. In telling her story, she defiantly says, “I may be vulnerable, but I am not a victim. I dream of a just world… I want to dedicate my life to hope.” Her story gives insight into the underbelly of Johannesburg’s poverty and points to the hope found in Jesus’s church demonstrating Christ’s kingdom ways.
Gugu’s family fled the economic melt-down in Zimbabwe crossing the Limpopo river in 2008. They moved into an inhumane, derelict “hijacked” building. While there, at the age of just 11, she was first sexually assaulted - the first of 4 violent sexual assaults she has so far experienced. Gugu has further faced 3 evictions, xenophobic attacks and multiple encounters with police brutality. She describes her hardest moment as “watching my hero, my mother die of cancer in 2016. My mother was initially denied treatment from a government hospital because she was a foreigner, and as a result only started chemotherapy after 15 months… she died just a few weeks later.”
While Gugu was staying with her aunt, during the final months of her "o" levels at school she got evicted for and Lawyers For Human Rights worked to return her to her home. She was returned after 5 weeks of living on the streets. It was while she was living on the streets that she wrote her final exams. Despite these extremely difficult circumstances, she obtained the following results:
*Please note that monies raised above Gugu's educational needs will go into the General Neighbours education fund and be used for educational expenses of other children we support.