Pastor Norman lives in a community called Maubane, South Africa. It is a place known for its red dirt that sticks to your shoes and your skin--and its beautiful children that stick forever in your heart.
Since leaving South Africa, I've known that I cannot just go back to my normal life. But what can I do? How can I put into action everything that I learned and how much I changed?
I've decided to raise money to help finish a school building at the community center in Maubane. I'm going to do that by asking my friends and family to donate. (That's you!) I'm also planning a big fundraiser with Power of Moms that launches next week. (They will have eight of their online motherhood programs on sale, and ALL of the proceeds will go directly to this cause.) So the last few weeks I have been busy writing and writing and writing--posts and podcasts and newsletters--trying to put my experience in South Africa into words to explain this cause and the life-changing people I met in South Africa.
It feels a little daunting. I want to raise $35,000. And that's a lot of money. But I know, without a doubt, that it will be well used. And I feel that raising money to finish this building at Maubane is the best way for me to contribute something meaningful long-term because once this school is finished, it will qualify for government grants for Early Childhood Development. So if we can just help them complete the building, it will be a donation that keeps on giving and giving and giving to these beautiful children and to a community that has worked so hard to better themselves.
I'd like to give you some background on Pastor Norman and this great work at Maubane. As you read, will you consider how you and your family might contribute? I would not ask if I did not know, from the bottom of my heart, that any money that you donate will make an incredible difference--and that it will be carefully, gratefully, wisely, and righteously used.
I have worked with some great non-profits over the years, and I have never been as impressed with any non-profit as I am with Take Action Ministry and their local leaders. Truly, the Maubane community is on the verge of an incredible transformation, and we could be part of their journey. We could help Pastor Norman achieve truly amazing things there. You can give here, or you can read on for all the details.
Several years ago, Pastor Norman began to dream of building a safe place for the Maubane community to gather and unify, and he even got permission from the tribal leader to use a dusty plot of land, but there was no money to build a school, garden, or church. This is a community of tin shacks that doesn't have consistent access to food or water. There is no electricity or indoor plumbing, and the needs can be very desperate.
But Norman pressed on in hope and started a small children's church that met under a tent, and over time his congregation of little ones has grown to 400 children! They walk from miles around to feel his love and to sing and dance to Jesus. With the help of Take Action Ministry, they've now built an outdoor pavilion with a paved floor and plastic chairs, and it's a beautiful place to worship.
One of the young men whom he took into his home is named Terry. Norman noticed right away that Terry has natural leadership abilities, and he mentored him, loved him, and taught him to reach out to others and make a difference. Today, Terry and Norman work side-by-side in their dream to build a community center at Maubane. They call it a "transformation center" because they truly believe that it will transform their community. And it already has.
Since 2013, the Maubane Rivoningo Transformation Centre, run by this remarkable father and his adoptive son, has given the people of Maubane hope, by giving them reasons to gather.
Hundreds of children gather before school to receive a meal of vitamin-fortified porridge--and for many, it is the only meal they will eat that day. Take Action Ministry helped them secure a grant for the porridge and helped them receive funding for a simple kitchen made out of a shipping container. It is a miracle to see this life-saving operation in action!
And it's not just the children who gather at the community center. There is also a community garden where adults are taught to cultivate vegetables with methods that require very little water. They are mentored one-on-one by an incredible man named Dawid who patiently teaches them each step of the process. They use the vegetables both to feed their families and to make income.
Since the people don't have running water in their homes, Take Action Ministry helped them build a community water point a few years ago, which gives the women a communal place to gather to do laundry, talk, and fill their water buckets. This is also a very valuable resource because it has a large water storage tank for times of drought, which are very common.
All of this gathering together has led to a beautiful spirit of unity at Maubane. During my time there, I noticed many teenagers with their arms around each other, as well as older kids with toddlers on their hips or helping them along, hand-in-hand.
A man named William who has cerebral palsy comes to the community center each day, just to sit there and be a part of what is going on, because he feels loved and welcome. If he can't find anyone to push him there, he pushes himself with his twisted feet, from about a mile away. The teenage boys at the center take care of him and include him in everything that they are doing. It made my heart swell with love just to witness it.
When I walked through the gates, the children swarmed around me, welcoming me, wanting to hug me and look into my eyes. They were fascinated by my blonde hair and wanted to touch it. I pulled it out of my elastic so they could stroke it and play with it. I could've held those sweet children all day!
My heart broke that their mothers can't spend more time with them. They have to leave their children early in the morning and come home from work after dark. They are doing all that they can to support them and care for them. They want what is best for them, and I'm sure that having the community center is a huge relief and blessing for them.
Truly, the Maubane Riviningo Transformation Centre has become a place of hope where there was once only a dusty field. And it sprang from the vision of one inspired, faithful, heroic man who believed that God can work miracles by gathering people together.
My friends, we can come together to help this miracle continue.
I feel so passionately about this. We can do this!
The next step in this miraculous transformation is to help the people of Maubane finish their school building, which will house their Early Childhood Development program and their After School Care program.
Their preschool is now being held in their outdoor pavilion area, but, as I said, they do not qualify for funding yet because they are not in a building that meets government requirements. If they could get this funding it would make all the difference. They could increase their enrollment and help more kids, run the program without outside donations, and train their teachers in best practices for at-risk children. It would be an environment similar to Gogo and Elizabeth's school at Reagoboka. When I was at Gogo and Elizabeth's school, I could clearly envision what is possible at Maubane, and I knew that I must work to make that possible--because that is what every child deserves!!
This is their current preschool program at Maubane:
This little boy reminded me so much of Noah at that age. Such a rascal! I love the way the other kids are amused by him!
We could get them out of the pavilion and into this building:
It was designed by an architect who specializes in rural development, so it is very practical for this community and its resources. As you can see, it is well underway, and as soon as they get the funding to finish the roof, plumbing, and interior, they will finish it and start using it! It will have two classrooms, a communal area, and a small kitchen. It will be used for preschool, after-school care, community classes and meetings, and much more.
Pastor Norman and the people of Maubane have proven themselves faithful--they have worked so hard to transform their community. I know that if we can help them get this building finished, they will treasure it and work so hard to make it a thriving, caring environment for these amazing, beautiful children.
We can make this happen for them. Will you join me?? I would love for Take Action Ministry to be able to tell them before Christmas that the money has been raised, so there can be Christmas rejoicing and praise in their community as they prepare for a new school.
$35,000 is a lot of money, but every little bit counts. Pastor Norman taught me that big things are possible--anything is possible--with hope, faith, God, and the gathering together of good people.
Let's make a difference to these kids in Africa. Click this link right now and make a donation, big or small: https://www.purecharity.com/maubane-rivoningo-transformation-center.
And if you can't give financially, I could still use your help! Will you help me spread the word? Leave a comment if you're willing to help me share the Power of Moms' fundraiser when it launches next week. I would love for it to reach as many moms as possible.
For more of my writing about South Africa...
Take Action Ministry: aka The People Who Changed My Life in South Africa
Come With Me to South Africa and Meet the Heroes There
What My Trip to South Africa Taught Me about Motherhood