The Damara tribal community where we are located was chosen because it is
one of the poorest areas in the city. This little shanty town is built on a
rubble of dusty, windy little streets where houses are built of whatever can
be found, begged borrowed or stolen. People walk everywhere with the
exception of taxis and a few cars. Riaan lives in a tiny dirt floored shack
about the size of a small storage shed along with all his brothers and
sisters. Most of the older kids live in boarding schools during the school
year, while the ten adults live in a larger house on the same plot. I parked
in front of the place which was camouflaged by a hideous rusty wire fence
that someone had painstakingly bent together to give a semblance of privacy.
The fence is one of those land marks that keeps me from getting lost,
sticking out like a sore thumb and amongst the confusion of disorder and
Inside the fence an assemblage of glassy eyed men stared at me, alcohol
penetrating oppressive air. One man was in a wheel chair, one leg was
missing. My stomach turned, I felt their hopelessness. These are the people
we came to serve, Community Hope School was established to raise up the
future leaders of this nation. "Their children will be better off," I
remind myself every day, looking straight in the repugnant face of poverty.
No one seemed to know where Riaan was. The neighbors couldn't tell me
anything either. Just as I was leaving a teenage boy who should have been in
school approached me to say that Riaan had been sent away. My heart sank.
Riaan was developmentally delayed, didn't speak or smile three years ago.
Today he is changed, reading words, writing sentences and smiling
The second day of school, Queen Deline, Riaan's, round-faced sparkling eyed
little sister didn't come. Lately she has needed to be held while the other
children were playing. I took a friend with me who could speak this lively
tongue clicking language known as Damara-Nama. At the house we learned that
Queen's mom, Shirley, a young women in her early twenties who has a baby
every year since she was a teenager decided to move out and get rid of the
kids. They told us that the kids were being taken to a farm hostel (boarding
school), an institution where very often poor kids are herded together like
animals, fed a small meal of corn meal "pop" and are pretty much left to
care for themselves. Recently the newspaper reported that some hostels had
their water supply cut off due to lack of payment. My head throbbed with a
picture of Riaan and Queen living like this.
With determination and a very heavy heart I set out to bring them back.
After what seemed like hours we found a place with a large play ground where
what seemed like a hundreds kids were playing. Along the side entrance was a
shade net where several young girls sat holding small children. Queen was on
one of the girls laps. We were directed to the waiting room. In the office a
rather large women sat eating her lunch. Not looking up she took my card and
asked what I wanted. Without bothering to get the whole story she released
the kids to me, remarking that Riaan had run away. By this time, Queen was
in hysterics not knowing where she belonged. Word gets around this community
fast. Riaan was back at the house waiting for us to come and fetch him. The
small children's clothes were in a filthy heap outside of the house waiting
for them to leave. I brought the children home to our Youth With A Mission
farm campus where they are now living. Some of our volunteers are caring for
them. Possibilities are pending to give good homes to the five little ones.
Pray for a big miracle, adoption is a foreign concept here and legal issues
could hold up the process indefinitely. Riaan, Queen, Memory, Ishmael and
Smithley need a real mommy and daddy to love them and keep them safe, they
have never had that.
Summer skies in the southern hemisphere have brought rain showers filling
the dams of this thirsty land. Long forgotten dry riverbeds are flowing
while people stand in the rain drinking in its refreshment. My garden is
thriving and the cows are growing fat and sleek from the Earth's delicacies.
We are thankful to our Father who has heard the cries of the needy.