Silver Ring Thing

Silver Ring Thing

KidZ at Heart

KidZ at Heart

Phayiphini Update: March 2009

A weekly chance to relate to a caring adult…

The Prestbury Methodist Church in Pietermaritzburg is a participating church in turn the tide 4 children’s (ttt4c) SEED strategy to equip local churches to reach vulnerable children in their communities. They have started a Jewels of Hope project as part of ttt4c’s Capacity Building phase with SEED churches.

This extract is from Diana’s (Prestbury Methodist Church’s project leader) newsletter to ttt4c.

“We are a project in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, invited to become part of the Jewels of Hope Project. This involves a volunteer facilitator working with five selected children over a three year period. They will all learn to make really beautiful jewellery (which means they’ll begin to get a little money as we market this). But they will also be given life skills training and a chance to relate to a caring adult in their weekly connect group meetings. It’s a very carefully thought out programme that is already running in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Gauteng and Malawi.

Beauty, a community worker, suggested the names of two ladies to be sent for the initial training. We’ve selected five children to form the first connect group, with the next five in the wings for the next stage four months later.

Training for the two leaders (and myself as coordinator) took place at the end of January, and the group now meets weekly to start working on making jewellery!

“The group now meets weekly to start working on making jewellery! We’re very excited about it.”

“We’re very excited about it.”

1)   Our exciting Jewels of Hope project has finally begun.

In case you’re not aware, this is a project, started 4 years ago by Anita Rushton, whereby 5 orphaned and vulnerable children come together once a week in a ‘connect group’. They are given a meal, encouraged in their everyday lives, taught lifeskills and the Gospel, and also how to make really beautiful jewellery.   Including our 5 children in KZN, there are now 250 project children in Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gauteng and the Free State.

Beauty and I heard of Jewels of Hope last year at the first ttt4c training we attended, and we immediately knew that this was just the kind of project we’d like to get going in Phayiphini.   Anita and her family have now moved to Pmb, and we are very privileged that she’s taken us on as the first (and, for now, only) group in this province.

The ‘Jewels’ are not the jewellery they make, as one might think, but the children themselves.  Teaching them to make this beautiful jewellery gives them a skill, confidence, and will teach them business skills.  Once they have finished their training they will begin to earn money from whatever items we sell (and they are extremely saleable).  The lady in Jhb who sources and packs the beads for each design earns a small amount, but neither Anita nor her husband nor the marketing/publicity lady or network coordinators are paid for their time.   The ladies trained to teach and lead the children will only begin earning something when the children’s jewellery is sold, and then they will receive exactly the same as each child in their group.

We have chosen Thombi Sokhela and Thandi Mtheku to lead the first group of children, so they, Beauty and I attended a course in jewellery-making run by Anita.   I wasn’t very good at it – my old eyes don’t cope with the fine work that had to be done, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely and were all very proud of the 9 items we made (Photo 1).  These are what the children will be taught to make over the next weeks, and what we will start selling shortly.  Anita also taught how to encourage the children, not do the work for them, and to cope with discipline or other problems these children may present.  If these 5 children cope well they will ‘graduate’ after 4 months and then continue making other designs.   Thandi will then start another group of 5 children, and in this way we hope to have 15 or 20 children in ‘connect groups’ by the end of the year.

But this now means that we’re going to have to find markets for what is made.   I will send out photographs of the necklaces, earrings, bracelets and keyrings as they are finished.  Each will have a label with a photo of the child, a little about them, and how they will benefit from the sale of the item.

The next 2 pix show Xolani and Nonkululeko on the first week looking at the items they will be making, and 3 of the children with Thombi counting the beads to make the 4 necklaces they were making last week.  (They must each count their own, so they can’t later say they didn’t have enough to finish the 4 items!).

But we realise this won’t be all plain sailing.  These children are carrying lots of emotional baggage and there is sure to be a great deal of jealousy from other children as well as from other families.   We are already seeing a little of this with Thombi’s sister, who wants her child to be part of the group.  Please pray for wisdom as we settle down, and for all those involved.

Again, we are so grateful to our donors who enabled us to pay the start-up costs for this project, including training, equipment, money for meals for the children and their first packs of beads (the most expensive item).

2)    The Saturday Club is running well.

They are limiting numbers to about 45, so children who have been coming erratically have been taken off the register.  Teenagers and young adults from our church are doing a sterling job of spending an hour or so there each Saturday, interacting with the children and helping generally.  The long-term effects of their efforts and time aren’t known, but are probably way beyond anything we can imagine, as children are shown different role models, and that people are taking the time to care for them.

3)    We have what someone has called a ‘wonderful problem’ on a Sunday morning.

Since the July holiday club some children have walked from Phayiphini, over the hill, down to our Sunday School.   But, in the last few weeks the numbers of children coming has increased so dramatically that our Sunday School is no longer able to cope with them all.   The word got out that the group would go on a picnic to the Botanical Gardens 2 weeks ago, so scores of children came along.  They must have talked about the fun they had (and the chocolate cake they had!) so, last Sunday, even more children arrived.   The problem is that they all expected lifts back home, and there was no way that those congregation members’ cars with space in them could cope with transporting 60 children, so the children were upset at having to walk home again.

Please pray for wisdom as we work with the community to find a way of bringing Sunday School to them in their area, instead of them having to walk such a distance to get to ours.

Scripture Union have offered to train Sunday School teachers from the community, so that a satellite Sunday School can begin there, with our backup support.  We are waiting for the community to come back to us on this.

4)     We continue to supply clothing bags for the ladies to sell, and these make a huge difference in their lives.

Please send us any clothing that’s hanging, unworn, in your cupboards.  Also, remember Jersey Sunday on 22 March.  We want to be able to give each child we are in contact with at least one warm item this winter.  Again, thanks to the many people who have already sent us items, and especially to those special ladies who knit/crochet blankets and jerseys so that the children receive brand new items.

We have also received a very generous donation towards the cost of school jerseys, so will give each child a new one early next term.

6)     Beauty Ndlovu and Nolan Mulder will be attending the next ttt4c training course at the beginning of April.

We are so grateful to ttt4c for sponsoring their air tickets this time.


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