This article was originally published in the October 2015 edition of ITMI Monthly.
This is a fictional story, based on common experiences in Zulu Natal and the vision of ITMI partners, Kelly and Cherise Smith to open “Children’s Village” on their property.
Ten-year-old Ayasha had been through a lot in her single decade of life. Her parents were both taken from her by the sweeping HIV/AIDS epidemic ripping its way through the Zulu people of Zulu Natal, South Africa.
After her mother passed away, she’d gone to live with her grandmother. A widow responsible for 7 other children, Ayasha’s cousins and siblings, her grandmother was having a hard time feeding them all.
When her grandmother fell sick, the children were spread among the remaining distant relatives, but no one had room for Ayasha.
For an African orphan, life with relatives is rarely a walk in the park. Relatives struggle to provide for their own families, let alone others, and some are resentful of the extra mouths to feed.
But Ayasha was taken in by the Children’s Village at 7 Rivers Farm.
A haven tucked between the steep hills of Zulu Natal, 7 Rivers’ Children’s Village is a series of houses, each house run by “house parents.”
The house parents are a married, believing couple called by God to invest in the lives of the 6-8 children in their home. Their income comes from working on sustainability projects at 7 Rivers Farm.
In this way, would-be-street-children whose relatives can’t or won’t take them get to be a part of a family, experiencing both a godly mother and a father.
Ayasha was happier at the Children’s Village than ever before in her life. She missed her parents, but she had been very young when they passed. Living on the farm meant she could learn trades and skills in addition to attending school.
The Smith’s vision for Children’s Village is just that - a vision.
The Smiths are in the beginning stages of submitting the paperwork for the NGO and environmental studies needed on the farm.
Once they’ve got the foundation laid, they’ll need to raise $30,000 for each house. That includes materials and labor for the finished shell, but no furnishings.
Hilly Zulu Natal, South Africa.
Many in Zulu Natal live in round houses called "rondovals."
They’d like to start with 1-2 houses and grow slowly as God provides.
One of the biggest challenges will be finding house parents that will fit the bill for the kind of homes they’d like these to be.
“We would like the homes at the children's village not to be a mock home or substitute home but to actually be a genuine home for the kids with a father who works and is the spiritual leader in the family and home,” the Smiths shared.
This will be a tall order. The Smiths describe it this way;
“The family structure within the Zulu culture doesn't have many married couples, especially in the area where we are! We're trusting God to provide these very special people to be house parents.”
Would you begin praying for the 7 Rivers Children’s Village? There are three main requests right now.
1- Pray that all the proper approvals would be given.
2-Pray that God would provide house parents to bring life to this vision.
3-Pray that God would provide the funds for this project.
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.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.