Heading Toward Normal…
2019 was a transformational year at Care Village – lots of “new” and many changes. The title of this blog post reflects my new motto and my dream for the future of the children at Care Village. So much has progressed as it relates to day-to-day. Thanks to Care Village Manager, Gerrie Kasselman and his loving, nurturing, selfless method of caring for the children, Care Village has been transformed from what it was a mere three years ago. Contributions from many of you have exponentially added to the progress:
- The learning center, A la Maison is accomplishing what it was intended to accomplish. Children from Care Village are returning to the mainstream schools having been nurtured by the wonderful staff and very small class sizes at A la Maison.
- Gerrie has succeeded in reducing the number of schools the children attend. Instead of being scorned and looked down upon, our children are now being sought-after in many of the Middelburg schools.
- Promotion rates were 28% in 2017. With end-of-the-year school reports having been received at the beginning of December, the promotion rate has skyrocketed to 95%!
- Children stand differently, they walk differently, they talk differently, they read differently – all with more confidence and pride.
- Internet in the offices and the houses is speedy and reliable.
- House parents are undergoing rigorous training with national certification being the anticipated outcome.
- House parent workshops are being delivered to move toward true parenting and away from mere care giving
- Children are no longer being simply housed and fed they are being nurtured.
- Two shipping containers were sent in June containing more school furniture, two grand pianos, 40+ church pews (a chapel will soon be built on site), more house furniture, Christmas decorations, new backpacks for every child, school supplies, I pads, and much more.
- Downtime for the children has been transformed into enrichment time with recreational activities and enrichment opportunities taking place on Saturdays.
- The tooth fairy now visits Care Village every day, searching for the child whose baby tooth has fallen out.
- Birthdays are celebrated with personalized gifts, choice from the birthday room, a cake, and celebration.
- Living spaces are more comfortable and stimulating.
- Family vacations are annual events and a day at the park or a day swimming are not uncommon events.
- The Care Village Outreach Board of Directors funded a special Burger King supper for each of the children’s houses in September. Bottomless soft drinks were a hit.
- An anonymous American donation matched by a friend, allowed for the house parents to purchase Christmas gifts for every child. The children loved their gifts and this will become an annual event.
The list of enhancements and changes at Care Village grows regularly and it is awe inspiring to take note of how much you have been able to contribute in a little over two years!
Try to recall some of what you had growing up that you may have taken for granted. Every visit I make to Care Village, I try to think of something that can be added to these precious souls, something that you and I had growing up that is missing from the lives of these children. Please share your thoughts about how we can strive to help make the living conditions “more normal” for our children.
I am grateful and very proud of the Care Village Outreach Board of Directors. This selfless group meets every month to plan and organize events that will assist the children at Care Village. All of them give generously of their time and talents to improve the lives of our Care Village children. Some have been to Care Village, others have assisted with the loading of every shipping container, contributed financially, attended presentations, and so much more. You can see from the Care Village Outreach home page that we have a list of projects that we hope to complete, yet a focus of this board continues to be on creating memories for these children.
I have been overwhelmed by the generous contributions made by so many of you who are reading this. Every time we have put out a call for support, we receive more (backpacks, toiletries, beanie babies…) than we could have hoped. Still, the most treasured donation has been the gift of time. There have been 107 visits made by 75 different people to Care Village. Thank you to all who have contributed in any way and in many ways, whether through gifting supplies, time, money, good wishes, or prayers!
2020 promises two more group visits, one in March by students from Saline HS and another in July by SAS staff and First Presbyterian Church of Saline. If you have an interest in spending some time nurturing our children, please reach out for details. Trips are open to all who have a desire to help change the life of a child.
Below is a video produced by Care Village and narrated by Lebo Ndlovu, a young man who grew up inside Care Village. Lebo will begin 2020 as a shining example of what the nurturing, loving environment at Care Village is capable of producing. Lebo has been hired by Middelburg Primary School as a student teacher. He will be simultaneously attending school to obtain teacher certification. Listen to his compelling story. With the continued support of people from both sides of the world, I believe that Lebo’s story of success will be repeated over and over again.
Thank you for reading and for caring! All the best to you for a wonderful, happy, healthy 2020!