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Saturday, December 31, 2016

What do we do now?




I have mentioned before that 2016 was a very difficult year for us, but I know that it was a hard year for people all over the world, and maybe even for you.

It's New Years Eve and may I suggest that the time of reflection (lamenting, mourning, whining, complaining) of 2016 is over.  It is time to look forward to future – 2017.

The world seems to be falling apart around us; politics have the global community on edge, parenting is harder than ever and the crisis of starvation, orphans, poverty and disease don’t seem to be getting any better.

So what do we do now? I don’t really have an answer for people who are not followers of Jesus, but for those of you who are, the only answer is to be intentional about asking the Lord for direction in your life, every day.  Now more than ever we need to be seeking His will and be obedient. If you are supposed to move, then move.  If you are supposed to give, then give. If you are supposed to pray, then pray.  If you are supposed to volunteer, then volunteer.  Stop waffling and start doing. Today is the day.

Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.”

I hope you will spend more time watching the 20-second video that is attached than you will spend reading this short blog, and that you will be encouraged as you watch.  These children are alive and well because many people like you either moved or volunteered or gave or prayed for them.  Thank you to each and every one of you for all have you have done to make a difference in the world.

Gabriel and Rose celebrated their 6th birthday this week!
Live from Swaziland … Happy New Year!

Janine

Year end giving in Canada – please click here.

Year end giving in the US – please click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The end of a really hard year (and 146 babies)


Spencer (22) and Chloe (20) home for the holiday.  Photo credits: Jane Balasz
2016 has been a very challenging year on many levels.  Devastating drought has made extreme poverty even worse.  Death by HIV/AIDS, TB, house fires and fluke accidents have caused us to attend too many funerals.  Pain and suffering have become the parents of hopelessness - a hopelessness that I have never seen before.  Death seems to be hiding in every bush and standing on every street corner, waiting without mercy to strike.

But there is hope.  Yesterday we received two babies, a 1-month-old and a 4-month-old and last Friday we also received two babies, a 7-month old and a 2-month old. Each baby with a sadder story than the other.  One arrived on HIV medication, three are severely malnourished, one has epileptic seizures that started on the ride home, and one has STI’s on her face, but all have been chosen by God to live with us.  We now have 146 children (under the age of 6-years) who call Project Canaan home.


61 children from Emseni Campus and 37 toddlers = a difficult photo with 98 children!
As I wrote that last paragraph my chest tightened a bit.  This is hard.  We have 13 babies under the age of 6-months living at Kuthula Place, all struggling to “catch up” in weight and health.  Some literally fighting for their lives.  There are 35 children at the El Roi baby home, 37 children at the toddler home and 61 children up at the Emseni Campus.  It is overwhelming, at the least.

35 children who are 6-18 months old live at the El Roi Baby home.
But God is good, all the time, and we give thanks for the opportunity to serve HIM through these small children.

Today there are 13 babies at Kuthula place ages 1-6 months.
As the year comes to an end I am writing to ask you to consider making a Year End gift to Heart for Africa.  We have donors who will match up to $120,000 and we are really going to need these funds to care for 146+ babies in 2017.  Also, we would like to give you an audio copy of my first book "It's Not Okay With Me" for any year end donation, large or small.  The book shares our family's journey to Africa.  

Will you help us with your most generous gift today?  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing Him to work through you.



Live from Swaziland… Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Janine

Saturday, December 17, 2016

How important are traditions, really?


Christmas lunch 2015
Spencer and Chloe often tease us that our Christmas tradition is to do something different ever Christmas.  Of course I am quick to defend our age old traditions of  having Chinese food on Christmas eve, apple turnovers on Christmas morning, turkey with Diane Maxwell’s potatoes Romanoff for dinner and of course the same homemade Christmas cookies ever year. 

I will admit that when we moved to the US we were no longer able to buy Pillsbury turnovers, so that tradition was forced to change into Ian’s (now famous) Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and whip cream.  There is no way that the kids could complain about that upgrade in tradition, right?

Having Chinese food on Christmas Eve was a tradition dating back to my childhood.  It all started because there was only one restaurant where I grew up in Northern Ontario and it was a Chinese food restaurant called “The Shamrock”.  My mom wanted a quick easy meal at after the pharmacy closed on Christmas Eve before we made the 400-mile drive to my cousins’ house in Southern Ontario. The Chinese food in Swaziland is really not great, so last year our kids suggested that we change the tradition to include their favorite steak dinner, complete with baked potato and Greek salad, rather than Chinese food.  That was an easy sell for Ian and me.

While the traditions of turkey, potatoes and Christmas cookies have not changed, we have jointly agreed to include making pancakes, bacon and fruit salad for all our big kids and all of the Children’s Campus staff (180+ this year).   I believe that this new tradition has become the highlight of Christmas day for everyone in our family. And this year we welcome Spencer’s girlfriend, Jane, to join us in the kitchen, so again, even that new tradition has changed (and gotten better!).


Sometimes it is very easy for us to get caught up in having “the perfect Christmas” or holiday for our family. Sticking rigidly to traditions can not only cause unnecessary stress, but also prevent you from new blessings, new freedom and a joy that cannot be explained, but only experienced. 

While you prepare for your family Christmas celebration, or Hanukah, or whatever ever other festivity that you may be getting ready for, please consider being flexible this year, consider changing it up a bit and don’t forget that it’s the people who are in your “traditional plans” that really matter, not the decorations, or ingredients.

Live from Cape Town, South Africa … maybe enjoying a new tradition?

Janine

PS – In baby news – this past week baby Surprise was reunited with her mother after being with us for several months.  Shortly thereafter, a 6-month-old baby boy (Gideon) and yesterday an 8-week-old baby girl (Margaret) joined our family, brining us to 144 children.  Please pray for both of these babies as they arrived severely malnourished.  Margaret’s mother bled to death during childbirth and she has only been fed thin maize porridge, by her Grandmother, since birth. She currently weighs 2.6 KG (5.7 pounds).  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A real attitude

I love this amazing team of women and men who care for our babies.

This week I experienced something that was so pure and so special, I almost found myself wanting to keep it to myself, tucked deeply in to my heart. But that would be selfish, and so today I share it with you.

We have all heard about the attitude of gratitude, but do you really know what it looks like? I do.

On Thursday we had the annual Christmas party for our staff at the Children’s Campuses. That’s not as easy as you might think.  How do you have a party for the 65 people who care for 143 children (including night shift, cooks, cleaners and drivers) all at the same time? Who looks after the children??

This year we planned the party during the time that 98 of them are supposed to be napping (the toddlers and big kids).  We asked long-term volunteers Kenny and Amber VanWinkle and the Harp family to come and sit in the houses where the children slept. Then we recruited our front office women and a few from Khutsala to come and look after the babies while we celebrated Christmas at the back of the baby home (so we were available for emergencies).

The event was well planned by our Supervisors and all I had to do was show up (with bags of prizes for our quiz game of course).  Homemade/decorated Christmas cookies were handed out and Amber’s peppermint/white chocolate bark was a hit.  At the end of the party I told each of them that they would be getting a food gift basket from us including 2L fresh milk, 30 eggs, maize flour, oil, sugar beans, sugar, cabbage, a pair of flip flops and of course, a live chicken. With each item that I pulled out they cheered with glee, as they are all favorites, and very important to their families.

And then I made and announcement that brought the house down, and absolutely shocked me.  I thought I had seen it all here, but just when I think I have seen it all, I find that I haven’t.

I told them that everyone working on Christmas day would earn double pay for that day. 

Watch these two short videos, and then read on.


Don't miss Helen and the live chicken!
Double pay means an additional $2.60 to $7.00 - for the whole day.  And they were so very grateful, not only for the money, but that we acknowledged their hard work and commitment.  It was a moment of true, pure joy, and I am so thankful that I got to experience it.

Do you have an attitude of gratitude?  I can tell you that after my experience with my wonderful Swazi family, I am looking deeply in to my own heart and doing a bit of clean up in the “thankful attitude” area.  The bible says that we are to give thanks in all things.  That has been my goal this year, and I will continue to work on it in 2017.

Live from Swaziland … six more sleeps until we see Spencer and 13 until we see Chloe!!  

Janine

PS - It’s been a year since Ian has seen our kids and 11 months since I have.  Serving the Lord comes with sacrifices that some days are hard to bear.  I am so thankful that they will be home soon!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My mom was a hoarder



My mom's Christmas tree.
My mom was a lot of things including (but not limited to); brilliant Pharmacist, passionate researcher, loving mother and wife, devoted Christian, exquisite dessert chef and collector of all things. She simply did not have the ability to throw anything out.  I mean nothing.

Two extremes that I can now share publicly (now that she has passed away) would be finding a drawer full of used wax – the kind that was poured on the top of freshly made jelly to seal it (and then thrown out when the jelly was opened, but not mom’s).   And then there was the zip lock bag in the freezer that contained yarn that she planned to use to knit a sweater.  The problem that I had with that was that the yarn was made from a collection of fur that she had painstakingly collected over the years … from my childhood CAT, Smokey. 

Not kidding. 

I had countless conversations with my parents about cleaning out their basement full of three generations of pharmacy bottles/jars/chemicals/pills/stained glass windows/clocks/piano(s)/ and other stuff from generations of relatives who had died before them.  My words fell on deaf ears (literally and figuratively), mostly because my mom was convinced that she would be “raptured” and so all of her “stuff” would be left to “non-believers” who would be “left behind”. 

Oh mom.

My dad passed away in 2005.  A few years later my mom was moved to a nursing home,  and I was left to deal with the “stuff”.  I was angry that they had left the mess for me.  I felt that I was trespassing by going in to their home and throwing out dumpster(s) full of garbage, giving away their things and keeping the odd item for myself.  But with a lot of help from friends and family, I made it through.

After the big clean out in 2010 we shipped a 20ft container of things from mom and dad’s house to Project Canaan.  As we unpacked it and distributed mom’s treasures all over the farm I found myself repenting for my anger (over and over again).  The Lord knew exactly what those things were going to be used for and He kept them safely in my parent’s home.

Last weekend the Christmas tree was put up at the Oasis and our children hung their ornaments on that tree. That was my parents’ Christmas tree. 

When a child has a birthday and we have visitors join us for cake, the plates that the cake is served on are my mom’s plates.

The stained glass window that hangs in the pharmacy at the El Rofi medical clinic was in the front window of my Great Grandfather’s pharmacy at the turn of the century in Uxbridge, Ontario (also found stored in my parent’s basement).

Stained glass window from my Great Grandpa's pharmacy circa 1,800's.
I am not saying this in any way to be boastful, but rather to share my thoughts on how God works, and to show that I believe that everything that we have, comes from Him. It’s all HIS STUFF, and He will use it as He wishes!

Yesterday another container arrived from Canada and while it was mostly filled with diapers, wipes and toys, it also had the last of my mothers treasures. Among them was a beautiful piece of hand carved marble that my parents bought in India, many years ago.  It is inlaid with semi-precious stones, each carved by hand by the very same artisan families who hand-carved the Taj Mahal. 


My parents had it shipped back from India in the 70’s and then had a table base made for it.  It was one of the few pieces of her own furniture that was in her nursing home room.  It truly was a treasure (and not to be out of her sight!).  Now it is here in Swaziland, Africa, and I am so thankful for it. 

Another one of her prize possessions also made the trip.  Mom’s baby grand piano arrived in the container and will be used for piano lessons for our children (just as it was for me), Christmas concerts and lots of other special occasions.

Mom's piano - being moved by our JCB (she may roll over in her grave for this one).
As Christmas approaches and I prepare for Spencer and Chloe to come home, I am reminded every where I look at the influence my own parents had on my life, both in life and in their death.  Their work ethic, their faith, their commitment to family and their commitment to their community has forever impacted my life, the lives of our children and now, the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland.

Christmas is a time when family gathers together, and even with all of my parents “stuff” that now surrounds me, none of it replaces having them here in person. 

Live from Swaziland … having a “moment”.

Janine

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How to prepare for Christmas with 143 children?

Get a little help from your friends!

Today was the second annual Project Canaan Academy Christmas pageant and it was beautiful.

Our friends, Sarah and Luke Ferguson, joined Teacher Amber in preparing a wonderful fresh approach to the Christmas story and it was funny, heartwarming and they all did such a great job.  It’s a musical called “The Case of the Reluctant Inn Keeper”, told in front of a judge and jury. Hilarious and oh, so sweet.

Here are a couple of short videos so that you can enjoy a bit of what we enjoyed.




The November team that comes is our last group of volunteers for the year.  All of our volunteer teams are a blessing to us, but the November team is a particular blessing to me because they help us get ready for Christmas!  The literally help the children decorate the tree, hang garland, bake and decorate cookies and get everyone in the Christmas spirit!  Thank you Village Christian Church for your friendship, support and love (and for all the wonderful goodies you blessed us all with!).  



Don’t forget to shop at www.khutsala.com this weekend and use our discount codes for great deals!  EVERY dollar you spend helps us provide for the children in these photos.  We are thankful for all of your love and support.


Live from Swaziland … it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Janine

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy birthday to me - and a gift for YOU!


Today is my 53rd birthday (I heard you say “Happy birthday Janine!” – thank you!).  I am really not sure how I got to be 53, since I was only 33 last year?  But alas, the wrinkles, the graying hair and the waistline all seem to point to 53.

Today I also share my birthday with Rachel and Leah (twins of my beloved and deceased Nomsa – see http://wednesdayswithnomsa.blogspot.com/2014/09/chapter-20-dear-nomsa-things-that.html) and a new little guy who joined us a few months ago, and the name on his health card was “Maxwell”!  Imagine a Swazi boy named Maxwell, with the same birthday as mine? We knew he was ours!

I can't recall who took this photo, but it's just the best!
So what does a girl who lives on a remote mountaintop in a tiny Kingdom in Africa ask for on her birthday?  That’s easy.  Rain.  And it is raining!  We have had what they call “small rains” on and off for the past few weeks and everything is green again.  The small rains typically come in September softening the ground for the “big rains” that should be upon us now, but we give thanks for gift of rain, period!

I also share my birthday with an amazing young woman named Nqobile, who is our HR Supervisor at Khutsala Artisans and lives at the Sicalo Lesisha Kibbutz on Project Canaan and it is with her in mind that I make this birthday wish and give YOU this birthday gift.

Birthday girl Nqobile is on the right.
For the next 48 hours I would like to offer you a 30% discount at www.khutsala.com so that you can start (or finish?) your Christmas shopping (or buy a few things for yourself)?  Our artisans have worked SO hard this year, but it doesn’t matter how much they make if it doesn’t sell.  We have a massive amount of beautiful and new inventory in the US right now and we need it to sell!  With that in mind, I am offering you a special discount for today and tomorrow if you will start your shopping. It would simply be the best birthday gift that Nqobile and I could ask for. 

The discount code at www.khutsala.com is: HAPPYBIRTHDAY (all caps).  It’s just that simple!  We have cool wall signs made of Lucky seeds (thanks for the idea Larenda Casey), coasters made of wood from Project Canaan and of course our stunning beadcraft.

Now that this blog is written I will go back to enjoying the sounds of the rain, the thunder of an angry sky and reading my birthday present from Ian, Ellie Weisel’s “Dawn”.  At 3:30 I will go and enjoy cake at the toddler home with little Maxwell and then head up to the Oasis for cake with Rachel and Leah.  A perfect day (but missing Spencer and Chloe).

Live from Swaziland …THANK YOU for shopping today!

Janine

PS - if you haven't seen the YouTube video done by my friends Gabe and Kayla Ferris, you MUST watch it now. It will simply make your Saturday!  Click here to watch now.  Thank you Ferris family!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Movin’ on up… to the east side


Today was a big day for seven of our toddlers who are now “Big Kids”.  Bella, Angel, Joash, Seth, Isaiah, Jerry and Zachariah moved from the toddler home up to the Emseni Campus.

The Emseni Campus is the “permanent” home for each of our children.  Typically, the children are 3-years-old or about to turn three when they move up. They will live there until they finish high school and move on to University, trade school or enter the work force.

Today five little boys joined the big boys at Emseni #2, which means there are only THREE spaces left there.  AND, since we now have 37 2-year-olds at the toddler home, we know that those spaces will be filled soon.  SO… that means we need to start building our third Emseni building this month!  We have the funds for the foundation, and pray that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds needed to build that building.  Within a year, all of those 37 toddlers will have moved up to Emseni and the 34 babies at the El Roi baby home will be at the toddler home.  The 11 babies currently living at Kuthula Place will move to the El Roi baby home.  And it continues.


It’s an exciting day when children “move up” to their next home, but bitter sweet for those of us who remember the day that each child arrived and the history that came with them.  It’s hard to believe that a new born who was strangled to death by her own mother and dumped in a garbage can, then brought back to life with life-giving CPR, is now big enough to walk up the stairs and climb in to her new bed. 

Today we give thanks for each of our children, for the Care Team who loves them and encourages them every day, and for all of the people who give on a monthly basis so that we can provide for our 143 children.

In addition, we give thanks for the rains that have fallen this week and for the green grass and leaves that have exploded to bring us all hope for the future.

Live from Swaziland … it’s a good day.

Janine

Saturday, November 5, 2016

We could have lost a baby today.



Today I witnessed a miracle. Yes, another one.

From time to time the police and social welfare ask us to help out with young girls who are pregnant and don’t want or can’t keep their babies when born.  The situations are always very complicated and we hesitate to get involved, but know that in the end we are likely preventing a baby being dumped in a pit latrine or left on the side of the road.

Today one of “my girls” gave birth to a beautiful 3.6kg (7.9 lb) baby girl, but not without giving us all a scare.  She was 42 weeks pregnant and had some complications. When I have pregnancy concerns, I always direct the girls to go to a wonderful missionary gynecologist who will see them immediately and help.

Today at 8:30 AM she was wheeled in to the theater (surgical room) to have a C-section and I was robed and masked to go and hold her hand and assure her that everything would be okay.  The Doctor had her instruments in hand, closed her eyes, and prayed.  It was incredible to watch and then feel God's presence at that moment.  As the doctor pulled the baby out she saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her little neck. She quickly unwrapped the cord and then told us that it was double wrapped. This unwrapping seemed harder and we could see that the baby was blue.  


The cord was cut and the baby was whisked away to the next room. I crawled under the oxygen tubes in my white rubber boots and green scrubs and followed behind.  The baby was indeed blue and they gave her oxygen and started to aspirate stuff out of her mouth and nose. Within about ten minutes she “pinked up” and started to make her arrival known.

It was explained to me that with the umbilical cord double wrapped around her neck, her 42 weeks gestation and very low amniotic fluid, that the child most likely have died if she had tried to deliver vaginally. 

Several hours later baby Noelle arrived home at Project Canaan and the young girl will rest and start the healing process in a private hospital.  It is funds from my Compassion Purse that allow me to make the call on taking a teenager to a private hospital when that care is absolutely necessary. So, for those of you who have given to my Compassion Purse fund, please know that you saved at least one life today, maybe two.

It looks like her hands are praying.
Noelle was given her name in memory of Noelle Crea Koosman, the daughter of our friends Rose and Mark Crea (CEO of Feed My Starving Children) who lost her fight to cancer a few months ago.  We pray a special blessing on baby Noelle and ask the Lord to send his peace and joy to the Crea/Koosman family today.

Live from Swaziland … I stand in awe of our maker, creator and healer.

Janine

Saturday, October 29, 2016

He did it again.


If you read my blog on June 11th you would have been amazed at the incredible “coincidence” (God’s perfect timing) that brought a new nurse to us (Hannah Vilakati) when our nurse Brooke Sleeper was leaving on maternity leave (and then moving back to the US), with only a few weeks to spare.  If you missed it, you can catch up here: http://janinemaxwell.blogspot.co.za/2016/06/i-cant-make-this-stuff-up.html.

This week HE did it again. 

Hannah also was pregnant when she joined the team so we knew she would be leaving on maternity leave in October.  Last week we did a “hand off” of information from Hannah to our clinic nurse who would step in to Hannah’ role for the next few months.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day on Friday of the same week, that nurse resigned, leaving us with no medical staff for our 141 babies and 280 employees.

My first reaction was “Oh NO!  What are we going to do now!?”, but honestly, only seconds later I thought about how Hannah came to us and just knew that God had a plan, and it would be perfect. I just hoped His plan would be quick!!

Monday morning I was in town at the government hospital picking up a 10-day-old baby boy who had been left on the side of a road.  A taxi driver had almost ran him over and then backed up to see what was wrapped in the blanket, only to find a newborn.  The nurse who brought the baby to me at the social workers office told me that she had a friend who needed a job. I am asked for jobs all the time, so assumed she meant as a caregiver/Auntie. I told her that the only position I had open at this time was for a nurse.

10-day-old baby Martin
The lady looked at me and said, “My friend is a nurse! She is looking for a nursing job!”

Ha – of course she is.

Turns out that her friend is 60-years-old and was forced to retire from the government hospital due to age, but she was still strong, smart, active and wanted to work! 

I gave the nurse my card and asked her to have her friend send me her resume.  Two hours later, when I was back on Project Canaan, I got a call from the front gate guard saying that there was a nurse there to see me. She had received the call, got in her car, picked up the social worker from the hospital who knows us well (nothing like bringing your own references with you!) and drove out with hopes of meeting with me.

Needless to say I interviewed her, showed her around, asked Dr. Lemmer (who runs our clinic) to interview her, he checked her references and we hired her the very next day! 

She doesn’t start until November 1st, but has been to work every day this week “volunteering” and getting to know what we do and how we do it.

Yes, God did it again. I was in the right place at the right time with the right person and He delivered us a nurse with 35 years experience.   

I just can’t make this stuff up, but I do love sharing these stories with you so that you can see that miracles still do happen.

Live from South Africa … thankful that God’s timing is always perfect.

PS -  A quick update on Ian’s knee.  It is not healing properly and is still very swollen, painful and he says it “slips” when he walks. We are in South Africa for the weekend so that we can see the surgeon early Monday morning. We are anticipating reconstructive surgery on Monday or Tuesday so please pray for us all as we start this  journey again.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A bag of frozen chicken parts?


Ncamile, Kim, Hlengiwe, S'bonga, Nqobile.
This week I had fun.   I don’t have fun very often. I LOVE my job and my life, but “fun” isn’t really a word I would use to describe by life, but this week I had fun.  My cousin Kim came to visit with her husband Joe and their friends Carol and Barry.  Since I first started my marketing business in Canada back in 1988 I wanted to hire Kim, but children, location, time and space never allowed us to work together.  But now, here we are in our 50’s and I have finally been able to hire and work alongside one of the brightest, creative, hard working sales people that I know.  In January Kim became the North American Sales Manager for Khutsala Artisans, based in Chardon, Ohio and this week we had fun together!

Kim came this week to work with the Khutsala Artisans team. We spent time talking about sales targets, pouring over spreadsheets, designing jewelry, packing boxes to ship and suitcases to carry.  She also came to encourage, thank and love the workers who are responsible for producing the product that she sells.  Let me give you an idea of what this team did in 2016.

In 2016 (only our 3rd year in business) our amazing team of 100+ artisans produced:

  • 3,152 assorted key chains (hearts, giraffes, flowers, elephants, Africa)


  •  54,836 Christmas tree ornaments (4 different designs)


  • 3,592 3D beaded giraffes, elephants, zebras and owls

  • 297 Angel decorations/tree toppers


  • 475 of the cutest reindeer decorations!


It total they have handmade 62,352 pieces of art made from wire and colored beads, and that does not include thousands of pieces of jewelry that were produced as well.

Before Kim came she told me she and her friend Carol wanted to buy a “treat” for all of the workers to thank them for learning a new trade and making each item with love and excellence. I spoke with our Production Manager and asked what would be the perfect treat, and a plan was made.

Yesterday the Khutsala Artisans stopped work early and sat in a dark room while I showed them our brand new website (www.khutsala.com).  Of the 105 people in the room, only four are on Facebook and the rest did not know what the internet was, but I did my best to explain. They were so excited to see their own faces on our site and squealed with delight when they saw the really awesome 1-minute videos that we have about how some of our things are made (you really need to go watch them – they are fun - https://heartforafrica.myshopify.com/pages/how-its-made). 

And then we announced what the real “treat” was. Each person would be given a 2KG (4.4 pound) bag of frozen chicken parts and a 2L bottle of Coke.  The room literally erupted in screaming (remember the day that Oprah gave away cars to her audience? Kinda like that.).  They jumped, they sang, they danced and after everyone received their frozen chicken and Coke there was a spontaneous dance party at Khutsala. A bag of frozen chicken parts showed our people that they are loved and appreciated - and last night their families all got to eat chicken!


“Khutsala” means “hard working person” in siSwati, and each of these artisans have worked hard this year to learn how to make beautiful products so that they can provide food and school fees for their own families. BUT as Kim and I discussed, if we don’t sell the product, we won’t need to keep them employed again next year.

Today I am asking you to go to our www.khutsala.com website and start your Christmas shopping.  This new website allows for Canadians to shop too (finally!).  We have many new and beautiful items for sale.  Your shopping will literally save the lives of the families whom we employ and 100% of the profit goes directly back to providing for our 141 (142 on Monday) children who call Project Canaan home.

If you are interested in hosting a jewelry party at your home or help us sell our goods, please email me at janine@heartforafrica.org or kime@heartforafrica.org.  

Live from Swaziland … hoping you will shop at www.khutsala.com today!  

Janine

PS - we also have some handmade wood and sisal ornaments. The wood and the sisal are harvested directly from Project Canaan.




Saturday, October 15, 2016

All in all, this was a good week.



This week started with an anonymous donor offering to put up a $50,000 US match for our urgent fundraising drive to bring water from the top. The challenge was for five days with hopes to reach our goal of $200,000 (the first 25% of the funds needed to bring water from the top of the mountain) so that we can move full speed ahead in building the wier (see last weeks blog for details).  I am THRILLED to announce that we have raised $178,405 US ($230,782 CDN) so far and pray that people will continue to give and the balance of it will come in the next few days.   Even more exciting is that 221 individual people invested in the project and bought piping that will run down our mountain.  The project will begin on Monday!

In addition to that good news, we received a new little boy on Wednesday welcoming our 140th child to Project Canaan (!!).  This little guy turns 2-years-old tomorrow and his mother abandoned him with a neighbor before she ran to South Africa and the “alleged” father denies paternity. The police and social welfare are still doing further investigation, but for now we are working on his nutrition (he is severely malnourished) and he is settling in nicely with all of his 41 2-year-old brothers and sisters living at the toddler home.

Face blocked to protect his identity.
This week we celebrate three birthdays.  Glory and Titus turned 3-years-old and today John turns 4-years-old.  Each and every child gets their own birthday cake on their birthdays, with the exception of our 7 sets of twins who share a cake.  When a child turns three, they get a big stuffed animal to sleep with. When they turn four, they get a book bag (back pack) for school.  When they turn five, they get a handmade quilt for their bed.  They also get to go to the boma (tall wooden sticks at the Oasis playground) and choose their own measuring pole that they will be measured on at each birthday.  We work hard to make every child feel special, loved and to be raised in their own identity in Christ, not an identity as an “abandoned child”.
 
Happy 3rd birthday Glory!

Happy 3rd birthday Titus!

4-year-old Grace got her very own swing(s) so that she can be strapped in and swing with the rest of the children and she also received leg braces (think Forest Gump) that will help her walk on her own. BUT already, this little girl who we were told would never sit, walk or see, is sitting, walking and seeing!  One of the “perks of the job” is seeing miracles each and every day.

Yesterday we welcomed my cousin Kim and her husband Joe along with their friends Carol and Barry from BC, Canada. Kim is our North American Sales Director for Khutsala and she is the one who is responsible for our beautiful new Khutsala Artisans website.  Be sure to check it out for your gift giving needs at www.khutsala.com.   I can’t tell you how nice it is to have family here after going through several very hard months personally. 



Ian’s knee is healing, slowly.  He is now using only one cane and the swelling is also slowing going down.  His body tells him when he does too much in a day or doesn’t have his leg up enough, which saves me from having to tell him J.

All in all, this has been a good week, and I am SO happy to be able to say that.

Live from Swaziland … heading down to eat birthday cake with John!

Janine

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It begins with 65 tons of material carried UP the mountain ... BY HAND!



Ian and Gil reviewing the plans to bring water down from the springs on HOPE mountain.
At long last I can write you with some really great news!  As I am writing this blog, Ian is finishing a meeting with our “water guy” discussing the day that we can start bringing the water down from the top of HOPE Mountain.  As you may have read, we are in the worst drought in recorded history, with the last big rain happening at Christmas 2014.

This has been a loooooong process involving researching every possible option and/or alternative to this expensive initiative, getting written “water rights” from the government, gaining local support from surrounding Chiefdoms, building a rough “tractor road” to the top and then finalizing a plan of action, complete with drawings and then negotiating the final pricing for the project. It is critical that we become "water secure" for our children, our staff and our animals to survive and for us to start growing food again. This project will even benefit people in our surrounding community when complete.

ONLY after all those things could be done could we in good faith reach out to our friends and family for funding.   The total project will cost approximately $800,000 USD ($1,100,000 CDN), but with as the exchange rate changes (daily) the cost rises.

On Wednesday we launched our “Water from the mountain” campaign and in two short days we raised $91,000 USD from friends in the US and Canada, which will allow us to get started, hence the meeting on our patio this morning.

The next step is to build two wiers, which in layman’s terms is a concrete structure that will adjust the flow of water to a pipeline that will bring the water down 5.7 miles.  One wier will be 9 feet wide and the other 15 feet wide and 9 feet deep. Unfortunately we cannot get heavy moving or digging equipment to the site so it will all have to be excavated and dug BY HAND!  This will all start in the next two weeks and I will be sure to post photos.

An example of what a wier looks like.
To make things more interesting (!) we can only get trucks to within 500 yards of the actual springs and from there everything will need to be carried up the mountain on the backs of strong Swazi men including:
o   32 tons of crushed stone
o   5 tons of concrete
o   28 tons of river stone
o   1 ton of rebar
o   Wood to build forms
o   A total of 65+ tons materials will be carried.

On average a man will be able to make 15 trips back and forth carrying a 25KG (55 pound) load each time.  65 tons divided by 55 pounds/load is 2,600 man loads or 173 days of carrying, if it were one man.  We plan to hire 20 strong men and have the materials up to the springs in 15 days and we are HOPING that the wiers will be built within a month… if all goes as “planned” (hahahahaha).

So, we are taking another step in faith to get this incredibly important and life-saving project underway, with the $91,000 already raised.  But we need another $710,000 to complete the project, and we need it soon.  Once the dam is dry, we have no options for water, and raising 139 children takes a lot of clean water.

Ian and I bought each other $250 of pipe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this past week. It might not be the traditional “silver”, but the gift of water is even better! 

Will you join us in buying a piece of pipe for $25 TODAY?  Or ten pieces for $250?  Or 100 pieces for $2,500?  Or maybe you are willing to give a gift of $25,000 or $250,000 to help us bring water from the top of the HOPE Mountain?   Our lives literally depend on your support.

To make a donation in Canada please click here.

To make a donation in the US please click here.

Live from South Africa … praying for funding in a big way.

Janine