Care Village Outreach, Inc. was started in March, 2018.
Interest in forming a non-profit began after a church mission trip sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Saline, Michigan in August of 2017 to Care Village. The mission team of 27 spent approximately two weeks at Care Village. They met with the Care Village Manager, the man in charge of day-to-day operations and the person responsible for making Care Village more than just a place of safety. It has truly become a place of opportunity and more importantly a place of love. The trip was life changing for most who participated.
The children at Care Village, ages three to nineteen live in eight houses, segregated generally by gender, and, and educational level. Each house has a house parent (or two, in the case of the littlest ones) who is responsible for the health, hygiene, care, and raising of each child. We discovered this to be a most daunting task, as most people would agree. These children come from various backgrounds, parental guardianship having been removed by the government for multiple reasons. It is safe to say that the children come to Care Village in crisis. They are granted safety and an opportunity to thrive.
Education has always been a problem at Care Village. The children are anywhere between one and five years below grade level in their learning. In some cases, children taken off the street have not attended school in many years. The children are granted enrollment in one of eighteen different schools in Middelburg and are transported to and from school every day by multiple vehicles. The expense to Care Village is enormous. Children are often scorned at school due to their inability to catch up. They can be in classes of fifty or more children. There is little or no chance for them to receive the education they desire.
Education is considered a privilege in South Africa and so the children invariably try to make the most of it at every opportunity until/unless they become discouraged. Given the smallest hope for achievement, the perseverance of the children is nothing short of remarkable. The children are hopeful, inquisitive, and hard working. Their dream is that education might unlock the door to opportunity for a future.
During the August, 2017 mission trip, the team overheard the Care Village Manager mention that his dream was to establish a school on site at Care Village. In this way, the children could be educated beginning at whatever level necessary to increase the odds of a complete education, and in a loving environment. Care Village had the space, but not the furniture, equipment, or teachers. When asked if he would be interested in used school furniture being replaced by the Saline Schools, he answered immediately that this would be a “God-send.”
Upon returning to the U.S., the Saline Superintendent of Schools was asked if it would be possible to reclaim the used furniture and ship it to Care Village. He answered unwaveringly that this would be a wonderful opportunity for this furniture to go to a useful purpose. Additionally, he offered the services of the SAS staff to help collect and transport the furniture to the holding facility and ultimately back to Saline Middle School where the shipping container was loaded in December, 2017.
When presented with an opportunity to engage the staff, students, and school community in helping to start a school on site at Care Village, our superintendent immediately offered encouragement and agreed to support a team from Saline Schools traveling to Care Village over Spring break in March of 2018. He explained that for Saline students and staff to gain a global perspective through this project would be invaluable. In fact, the Saline Schools compass mandates that students are taught the importance of a global perspective. What better way to learn about this than to actively engage in creating and supporting a school on the other side of the world?
Presentations were given at most of the Saline Schools to the staff in October and November of 2017. The response was quite overwhelming. The staffs in each building asked what they could do to support this project. Some mobilized their students to establish a book drive. Others help facilitate the collection of toys, bicycles, school supplies, and educational games. Still others sought out used, but functional technology equipment. In the end, the shipping container left Saline on December 19, 2017 filled with 8 pianos, 5 keyboards, 100 desks, 40 tables, 390 chairs, 25 bicycles, 320 boxes of books, 89 iPads, sporting goods, school supplies, art supplies, toiletries, many pairs of shoes and a Ping-Pong table.
In March, 2018 a team of 26 from Saline, comprised mostly of teaching staff and their spouses or children traveled to Care Village to help mentor at the newly started school, to continue to unpack boxes from the shipping container, observe, and learn about educational opportunities in the surrounding Middelburg community. The school, “A la Maison,” opened in late February of 2018 with 30 students, eleven from Care Village and 19 from the Middelburg community at large. The principal of the school and one of two teachers, incorporated her private school enterprise with the needs of the most educationally vulnerable Care Village children to open, on site at Care Village!
Every member of this humanitarian mission team from Saline had their lives changed through this 10 day experience in South Africa.
Care Village Outreach was started with the mission to encourage and support the education and well being of children at Care Village and with a vision to expand our support elsewhere around the globe. All donations go to support this mission and this vision. We continue to meet our goal of spending less than 1% of donations to keep the organization functioning. The remainder of our funds continues to go directly to Care Village to support the children and their well-being. Plans for our first year are to raise $50,000 USD to establish a full K-7 school on site and pay for teaching salaries for one full year. The intent is that “A la Maison” will grow through word of mouth of the outstanding, personalized education the children receive. By charging tuition to the Middelburg students at large, the school can become self-sustaining. Future dreams include the expansion of the school to accommodate a full K-12 curriculum that educates and nurtures the entire Care Village community.