Cunan was stabbed to death. Why?
Over a cigarette. A cigarette.
Cunan’s life was worth less than the cost of one cigarette to someone.
That someone was likely raised in a sagging, splintering wooden shack. The insecure world of Stone Hill, South Africa seeping through every crack, is a constant reminder of his vulnerability. He probably didn’t know his father. His mother likely lived with a string of boyfriends in their one-room shack.
A one-room shack in Stone Hill.
His culture gave him no reason to value life more than a cigarette.
That someone – who took a life over a cigarette – likely had no safe place to call his own. Nothing in the world he could count on… except possibly that cigarette providing relief from his ever-nagging fears.
Life in Stone Hill
Stone Hill, or klipwuehel, is a squatter camp near Cape Town, South Africa.
ITMI’s Charl van Wyk, who lives nearby, describes life in Stone Hill this way, “Most (girls) are encouraged by their mothers to have sex before marriage and give birth, thus proving their fertility to any potential husbands.”
He says, “Homes are filled with illegitimate children who have no idea who their father is, and if there is a man in the home, it is probably their mother’s boyfriend… Many young girls will be raped before their 18th birthday.”
One of the fundamental issues with this settlement is that fatherhood as been obliterated from their lives. Sure, men father babies, but for most, that is the extent of their investment in their children.
Free Falling and Grasping at Straws
Without their dads’ influence in their lives, they are falling through life, grasping at any straws - or a cigarette - they think might define them.
Pediatrician Dr. Meg Meekers, author of six best-selling book and a leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health, says,
“Here’s what solid, scientific research tells us about the profound impact fathers have on their children’s emotional, physical, mental and intellectual growth: …According to a study had looked at 90,000 kids, the number-one factor for operating in teen’s lives that kept them away from sex, drugs and alcohol was “parent connectedness.”
In other words, when dads were engaged with their sons and daughters, the teens were much more likely to stay away from high-risk behaviors. (Meeker, 2014)
Filling the Hole, Ending the Cycle
Without intervention, the youth of Stone Hill are highly likely to follow in the path laid out for them by their culture. The deadly cycle must end.
Thankfully, there are believers nearby who are working to reverse the downward spiral.
Men and women have regularly gone to the settlement and developed trusting relationships with the youth there. They’ve bonded over crafts, activities and sports. They’ve demonstrated and declared the gospel.
Stone Hill boys build relationships with mentors through grappling (wrestling).
Stone Hill girls participate in crafts and other activities.
A new shack constructed for a Stone Hill resident.
Losing Ground to Weather
With the onset of (southern hemisphere) winter, these relationship-developing activities will come a halt.
They can’t be done outdoors and there are no appropriate facilities to allow moving the activities indoors. These faithful mentors hate to withdraw from the settlement just as positive progress is being made. They loathe to resign the youth back to the anarchy of the Stone Hill streets.
Stone Hill, South Africa
A Cost-Effective Solution
The proposed solution to this dilemma is to construct a U-shaped structure made of shipping containers and a roof overhead. This safe heaven would allow the mentors to continue offering their presence and support to this community, as well as expand their reach through tutoring, medical clinics, Bible studies.
The structure would be the one safe place the youth can go.
Where they can let down their guard, knowing they are safe.
Where life is more important than cigarettes.
Where they can meet Jesus and learn what He is really like.
Where their identity can be solidified through knowing Him.
The Stone Hill Safe Heaven will cost USD $ 43,000 ($33,000 for the structure and $ 10,000 for equipment).
Would you like to be part of enabling godly mentors to access the youth that so desperately needs the encouragement and safety they offer?
Meeker, Meg. (2014, June 13). Real Dads vs. “Dumb” Dads (Weblog Post).
Retrieved from http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/meg-meeker-real-dads-vs-dumb-dads
Summer Kelley is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She’s had the honor and privilege of telling ITMI’s stories since 2006. She’s a homeschooling mom and a T-shirt and jeans aficionado who likes all things simple. When she’s not writing or homeschooling, you can find her honing her skills as what some might call a "suburban survivalist" as she learns to thrive in the suburbs with 3 kids. As a productivity and organizing enthusiast, she may or may not spend hours attempting to use technology to "save time.” Summer loves reading, the outdoors and Coca-Cola Classic from the fountain.
Charl van Wyk is a full-time missionary and the best-selling author of Shooting Back – The Right and Duty of Self-Defense. Currently, Charl is working to grow a Christian university, school and church in Central Africa, supporting African pastors with Bibles and bikes, and is a patron of the Organization for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Congo. He speaks internationally and has had numerous newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews.