A “Holy Home Visit” to the unsung heroes

Janette - Hands at Work

Janette Simpson shares her experience of volunteering with a Filling Station team at Hands at Work (Mafambisa, South Africa)

“I read somewhere once that you cannot leave Africa: that it is always with you, there inside your head. Following my visit to the Hands at Work charity in South Africa, I can certainly vouch for this being true.

When I think of that experience, I think of how I saw God in action. It was in April 2019, that I had the opportunity of going to South Africa with the Filling Station under the leadership of Jo and Richard Fothergill.

Life was not easy for most of the local women we came into contact with, yet there they were, every day, obedient to their calling.

Each day they would prepare food and feed mostly orphaned children who had been identified by the charity as being in need. The daily meal provided was potentially the only meal that they would receive that day.

“The daily meal provided was potentially the only meal that the children would receive that day.”

When we visited “The Hub” each day, we helped in preparing the food, played with the children when they returned from school and then served them.

The whole operation was slick; the children were trained to wash their hands, queue for food and soak their dishes.

A humbling experience

It was humbling to be around these young people, and it was also heart-breaking.

Many of these children, having lost either one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, were being raised by other family members: grandmothers, older siblings, uncles or aunts.

A ‘Holy Home Visit’

We had the privilege of visiting some of these carers on what is known as a Holy Home visit.  Accompanying team members from Hands at Work, we were invited to encourage and pray for these unsung heroes.

As we approached the home of each carer, we would be informed of their situation.

“This is a grandmother. She has lost her daughter and son-in-law to AIDS. She is raising three grandchildren. Yes, this dusty soil in which green beans and maize are growing is her garden. This is how she feeds her grandchildren.”

Life was difficult.

On our final Holy Home visit, we came across a 14 -year -old girl who had just returned from school. She and her two younger siblings were living in a basic brick shack with her 24 -year -old uncle. Her father had died some time before.

To watch her younger brother, sitting on an upturned plastic bucket in his dusty yard, weeping as he revealed that his mother had succumbed to AIDS only four weeks earlier, is something that I will never forget.

God in action

Yet, there was God in action. The child was persuaded to join the other children at The Hub, where he received some food and the loving embrace of Audrey, who listened to him and held him while he grieved.

Half an hour later, the boy was playing with the other children and smiling. It would be naïve to think that his troubles were over. These children’s lives will not be free of pain and trouble, but Hands at Work can make them better.

Providing food and much needed medication is a priority and comes at a financial cost, but offering those children love and showing them that they are cared for does not. The task force of volunteers and staff who have dedicated their lives to serving the poor here in the small suburb of Mafambisa shows a loving Father in action.

I returned from South Africa richer than when I arrived there. The children, their carers, the Hands at Work team, they all remain with me still.  We can do so little at the moment, so I do the two things that I feel can make a difference: I donate and I pray.”

By Janette Simpson, Filling Station volunteer to Hands at Work (Mafambisa, South Africa) April 2019

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