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I’ve been two weeks away from home and ready to finish this trip.
South Africa was great! We spent most of our time working with, and meeting with, people from the Ondini Circuit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. This is an area of poor blacks who have little hope, but great faith.
Our projects have been aimed at feeding and giving jobs to the local people. Our partnership is developing demonstration garden projects in the area helping with irrigation and fencing. Most animals seem to run fenceless in the area so a fence is essential. In the winter there is no rain so pumps and piping are needed to get water from non-seasonal creeks.
It was winter in South Africa when we were there. Temperature can get below freezing, but when the sun comes out things warm up nicely. They were growing cabbage, onions, salad greens and carrots now. Soon the rains will fall and they will switch to warmer season crops.
There is a great disparity between white owned areas and black owned areas. White farms are only a bit behind U.S. farms. Those in the black areas lack funding, education and land to do more than supplement their meager incomes. Nationally South African unemployment is terrible, in the rural areas it is almost complete. One of the congregations we worked with has just short of 400 members with only 22 employed. They have no chance for advancement without food and jobs.
South Africa brags about the fact that 85% of the country now has water piped to their houses. In the rural areas electricity and water can both be inconsistent. Most rural homes do not have water heaters, water is warmed over an open LP gas (bottle gas) fire.
There is a huge safety net for the poor. Old age grants and aid to parents is available, but nowhere near sufficient. Many single mothers are trying to live on the $31/month the government pays.
This partnership has been in the works since 2008. There is much more to do, but we feel we are making progress. Meetings will continue between people of the Shetek Conference and the Ondini Circuit. Our friends in South Africa are committed to helping their people. We continue to do what we can to help them.
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