Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Children

Hello to all our readers! It’s Buhe here. Debbie’s encouraged us all to get involved in updating the blog so here goes…

Since the last blog entry we’ve probably had about 10 children join us at the Sandra Jones Children's Centre. Namely Divine, Kimberley, Sharleen, Innocent, Cecilia, Sharon, Stan, Wendy, Zachery and Kevin.

Divine, Kimberley and Sharleen are sisters who are orphans and they had been pretty much looking after themselves. The oldest, Divine, is only 12 years old and had the incredible burden of looking after her two younger siblings (one of which is HIV positive) as well as going to school. In the midst of all of this she was raped by her friend’s brother. They lived with their uncle but he cared nothing for them and used to beat them up when he’d come home drunk late at night. These young girls have been through a lot and sometimes I wish I could just erase the terrible memories and take away the hurt and the pain they feel. But then I remember to trust the Lord to do that in their hearts because only He can truly mend a broken heart. I know it was difficult for them to go through what they did but it has made them such responsible, cheerful young girls who are such a pleasure to be around. Just thinking about them puts a smile on my face. And my prayer is that God would heal their hearts and continue to weave a beautiful tapestry with their precious lives.

Innocent and Cecilia are siblings. Cecilia is 13 years old while Innocent is only 5 years old. They are orphans who were living with their aunt in terrible conditions. They were not going to school as the aunt could not afford to send them to school. So Cecilia would help her aunt sell cell phone credit as well as sweets and crisps on the streets. Social Welfare brought them to us to provide a safe place for them as well education at the Sandra Jones Christian School.

Sharon is a 13 year old girl who was sexually abused by her uncle in the rural areas. He ran away and hasn’t been found since. She is tall, slim young girl who just doesn’t seem to realise what has happened to her. During her initial counseling it took about an hour to get her to open up about what her uncle had done to her. She couldn’t even look at me while telling me the story. It makes me sad when I think that such a young child had been exposed to so much already. She has been exposed to emotions and feelings and images she should never have been exposed to. Sharon had no concept or understanding of what sex was or the consequences of having it. She didn’t even know you could get HIV/AIDS that way. She couldn’t understand why her uncle did that to her (rightfully so) and she really hates the fact that it happened to her. She’s lost an innocence and purity she could never get back all because of one twisted man. I pray he finds the Lord and repents of his sin before it’s too late. And my prayer for Sharon is that the Lord would heal her of the trauma and the bad memories and that he would even restore that childlike innocence to her. The devil really tries to destroy children’s lives by getting people to violate them in this way but we trust the Lord for her life because only He can restore the years the locusts have eaten.

Stan, Wendy, Zachery and Kevin were all abandoned babies but praise the Lord they have found a refuge and safety with us. Zachery (4 months old) was severely underweight when he came to us and he was not thriving. He was admitted into Mater Dei hospital for 3 weeks where he managed to gain 1 kg then he was discharged. Stan, Wendy and Kevin are well and thriving and we praise the Lord for that.

So that’s about it for the new children! Pictures coming soon...

Sadly, we lost one of our precious babies, Hope Mhere. She was a twin whose mom died of AIDS soon after giving birth to the two little ones. But the Lord left us with Joy her twin sister who is well and thriving. Joy is HIV positive but is responding well to the ARVs. The Lord saw it fit to take Hope but we thank Him that Joy is still with us. Hope only had one elderly grandmother who can hardly see but she came with us to bury Hope. Our Angela lowered the little coffin into the grave and all the staff members took turns to fill in the grave. And yes, even our Debbie got down and shoveled the dirt into the grave! It’s never easy when a child dies but we’ve learnt to trust the Lord’s timing and not let it discourage us from giving ourselves whole-heartedly to each child.

Prayer Requests

• Please pray for the children as we are now right in the middle of winter. Willow Park gets very cold during winter especially early mornings and in the evenings. Many of the children have been down with colds and flu. Please pray that’s all it would be and that the Lord would protect and keep our children.

• Continue to pray for our finances. The constant financial struggle keeps us dependant on the Lord – which is definitely a good place to be. May the Lord cultivate in us the faith to persevere despite the struggle

• Pray for all the mothers who look after the children. It can get tiring and they get discouraged. Pray the Lord would strengthen them to give the children the love, care and attention they need and to keep their hearts encouraged in Him

• Pray for Fleur. She is going to on leave for 3 weeks (Aaaaaah!) to be with her husband in South Africa. We trust that the Lord would give them a wonderful time together as a family

Thank you for reading and praying! I trust you are all well and continuing to walk with the Lord daily. It is a narrow road we walk and few find it. But as we continue to walk it, how great the blessings we find along the way, how sweet the fellowship we enjoy with our Maker, how great the faith that rises up in us and how strong the Father’s love that carries us through it all.

All for Jesus,


Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's been like Christmas around the YFC office thee past two weeks.  The Australian embassy gave us three washing machines, two cots, 40 bunkbeds with matresses, 20 tables and 80 chairs.  Plus we were given 100 blankets, $200 for text books and money for the tyres for Fleur's car.  And we are over the moon!!!

Every now and then everyone gets a bit discouraged and it all becomes too hard and then BAM!!! the Lord blesses up big time!!! 

We are so grateful to all who gave so much to bless you children at the Sandra Jones Children's Village.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Update on the children (from Fleur)

Praise God Tina is back from her leave… Portia and I got to experience what she goes through everyday with the young girls Jester and her deal with. 12 year old Thembi was raped by her 21 year half brother who she only met in December 2010....he started having sexual relations with her that same month. She is a typical 12year old, and I don’t think she fully grasps or realizes that she is pregnant and is going to have a baby. She is immature and looks as if she should still be playing with dolls and enjoying a game of hide and seek. She is an orphan and was living at another children’s home.  When she fell pregnant the home could no longer keep her and she came to us.  She is 4 months pregnant and the doctor has recommended that she has an abortion. Jester and Tina have been couselling her and we pray that the perpetrator is found and that justice is served. Police investigations are continuing.

The four children Brighton (12), Noreen (7), Nobuhle (4) and Oswell 1 (and still being breast fed), who joined us tw weeks ago have now been reunited with their grandparents.  These 4 children were left alone for long periods of time, living in a single room in the middle of know-where. This room measured 3 by 3 metres, the children were left with mealie meal which had rat droppings and cockroaches in it. Brighton the eldest had the responsibility of cooking for them and fending for the children. The mother would leave every Saturday, and return Wednesday. Finally a report was made to the police. The mother did eventually return and while we were at the police station Brighton arrived, saying that  he had been chased away and threatened by the mother because she had heard that S.J.C.V and the police had come. We took the police to the house and the mother was picked up for questioning and the children handed in to our care. Brighton was actually this lady's nephew. She collected him from the rural areas in December, apparently to come and look after his cousins in town, while she would go away with her boyfriends. She grabbed on tightly to her 1 year old baby the night we were at the police station. It was hard for me, I felt heart sore that I was taking this child from his mother, but on the other hand what woman leaves her children unattended for days at a time? She is yet to go to court.  The grandparents were very happy to have the children.

2 new toddlers arrived last week, Prince, estimated to be 3 years old, whose mother left him at a house in Pumula which led the tenants to make a police report. Lubelihle, a beautiful little girl, estimated to be 4 years old was also abandoned by her mother at the house where she was a tenant.

The little ones continue to thrive, Joy and Hope are doing great, and  even though Joy is HIV positive she is actually putting on  more weight than Hope. Baby Mikaela’s mum was arrested and went to court for abandoning her outside a yard in Hillside. She merely got a 5 year suspended sentence and has not been seen since nor tried to find her baby.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sandra Jones Children's Village March 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends

Since I last wrote we have again been inundated with requests to take children. This has caused a real dilemma for all the staff. On the one hand we never want to turn a child away but it has become increasingly obvious that we have too many children and are not adequately meeting the needs of the children already in our care.

We never wanted to be a home that just basically fed and accommodated children. We always wanted to be much more than that. The aim of the Sandra Jones Children’s Centre was that each child would feel loved, accepted and safe, and would be introduced to Jesus Christ and given the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him.

Most of the children who come to us are severely traumatized and need one on one counselling. This is very time consuming and with so many children and so few staff (because of financial constraints) we have not been able to do as much as we wanted.

Another problem has been the difficulty in letting our children go. We really grow to love the kids and it is so hard to say good-bye. For that reason we have not been vigilant enough in searching for family members who could take care of the child.

I was horrified recently when talking to 14 year old Lisa (right). She has been with us the longest of all the children in our care. She has never been to a department store and did not know what a shopping trolley was. I then realized that our children can quickly become “institutionalized” if we are not careful.

So after much prayer and deliberation we have identified a number of children who should no longer be with us. It’s going to be very difficult to say good-bye to them but in the long run we are making the best decision for them.

The children are on school holidays at the moment and about 20 of our children have gone to stay with relatives. Most family members are happy to have them for the holidays but unwilling to take them long term.
To be fair, I think most of the families just cannot afford to support another child.

Yesterday the police asked us to take four children who had been abandoned by their mother. The oldest is a 12 year old boy and he is looking after his three sisters who are only five and three years old and 9 months. The young boy was overwhelmed by his responsibilities and appeared very sad. We were unable to contact anyone at social welfare to accompany us to the family but we will try again today.

Last week we took a 12 year old girl who is pregnant to her older brother. We face situations like this every day and it is so hard to know what to do. We would appreciate your prayers for wisdom to know when to say yes and when to say no.

Many of you have commented on how much you enjoy the articles written by Fleur so I have asked her to report on the baby’s ministry.

The Healing Power of a touch and a cuddle

I have had a chaotic, frustrating and tiring month taking babies to the doctor, some of whom have been diagnosed with pneumonia and bronchitis. We have increased their feeds, weigh them daily, boost up their immune systems with muli-vits, yet there is something lacking…TOUCH!!! So often the house mothers will get cross with me and other staff members for carrying the babies. Yet, Dr Nyathi, our paediatrician, always emphasises how much they need it - it doesn’t matter how much food they get, how much medication they receive, if they are not touched and cuddled every day, then they will not thrive.

Michaela had a really bad ear infection as well as suppurating sores around the side of her ear. She would scream day and night. It was a high piercing shriek!  In all fairness to the house mothers, cleaning, cooking, feeding, washing and taking care of the younger ones is no easy task. One morning Michaela was particularly bad and I too had had enough of her screams, so I got a towel and put her on my back. What a difference it made!!!!!! She instantly stopped crying!!!! And within a few days made a full recovery!

How my heart bleeds when I see one of the babies in the cots, grinning a toothless grin and holding their arms out to me in anticipation that I will pick them up and give them a cuddle.

Jesus was a ‘toucher’ and a ‘healer’. HE held the children and blessed them. “Then they brought the children to Him, that he might TOUCH them; but the disciples rebuked them, but when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God. (Mark 10: 13 -14)

He also touched sick people when he healed them. His, indeed, was a healing touch and a touch is what we all need whether we are young or old. Touch, I believe is the first sense to develop in us and maybe the last to fade - it is our most intimate and most powerful form of communication. Babies who are not lovingly touched frequently will fail to thrive and grow normally.

Debbie tells of how her children love to just crawl on her lap, not expecting anything, other to be comforted and cuddled and touched. My son too loves just being touched and cuddled  especially when he goes to bed, and in return, even though he is only four he knows the importance of a hug and a kiss, much to the delight and sometimes the annoyance of the babies and toddlers. I pray that he will never grow too old or too big to fit in my lap.

And I pray that the Lord continues helping us at the SJCV to be healing ‘touchers’ to all around us. Nothing can compare to the hug of someone, it’s always soothing for me. Des and Debs are the best huggers you will ever meet, even if you don’t want a hug they give such a deep, passionate, tight hug….you have no option but to surrender into their arms!!!

Many times when I’ve been down, I think to myself ‘How I wish I could have a Des and Debs hug right now’. Their touch always speaks much louder than words….let’s reach out to our children at SJCV with the secret power of hugs and cuddles.


Sponsorship Report March 2011

Wow, I cannot believe another month has gone by! In the wonderful world of sponsorship, this month has been good. We saw 2 new sponsors join the team of sponsors and that’s always very exciting and encouraging! The children are delighted when they hear they have a sponsor and they love to receive letters from them and in return reply to them. For some of them it’s the only sense of family they have other than at SJCV. So thank you to all our wonderful sponsors for your continued financial and prayer support. I pray that the Lord would continue to add many more!

This month we received a lovely donation of blankets and knitted garments from Sheila Grant’s church in Australia. Thank you to all the ladies who made that donation possible.

The last few days have been very cold out at Willow Park so I’m sure we’ll be using those blankets sooner than we thought! The winter nights at SJCV can get very cold and we always need blankets and warm clothing!

We haven’t had a very good response from the “Teas That Make A Difference.” So once again, if you would like to be involved in those or would just like more information about it, please drop me an email:

Financially, we’re still struggling to make ends meet but the Lord is faithful to always provide. He gives us the strength to struggle through each month. We never for one second think that it should be easy, because, I believe we are fighting against the enemy - so therefore there will be a struggle. We don’t wish the struggles away, we just pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen us and provide for us IN them.

We desperately need some school textbooks for next term. The approximate cost for these is $200. Not having sufficient textbooks and materials for the school makes it really difficult for our teachers who are already working on a tight budget. If we could raise the money for these textbooks before the beginning of May that would be GREAT!!!

Praise the Lord for another month and we look forward to another month when we will continue to see the Lord’s goodness!


Staff profile

I have been asked to include a staff profile in each upcoming newsletter so I have chosen Jacqui Martin for this one.  Jax turned the big 50 this year. She will be furious with me for sharing that piece of information!! She was born in Zambia in 1961 and moved to Gweru in 1971 where she remained with her family until 1983 when she went to South Africa to work at the African Enterprise Conference Centre. In 2002 she returned to Zimbabwe and started working at YFC as our bookkeeper. Jacqui gave her heart to the Lord when she was 16 through the Baptist church her family attended.

Jacqui is single. Her six year old foster daughter Nicole came to Jacqui when she was three years old after being placed in a children’s home. Nicky is the light of Jacqui’s life.

Jacqui loves to read and sew. She is very good with her hands and loves to do any type of handcraft.

Jacqui is a very level headed person and balances out my impulsiveness. She is a quiet unassuming person with a sharp tongue and an excellent sense of humour.

We are blessed to have someone of Jacqui’s calibre working for us as YFC.

Prayer Requests

So many times I am asked to be a little bit more specific with our prayer needs so I am going to take your advice and outline what exactly we need.

1) New tyres for Fleur’s car. It is now dangerous for her to drive her vehicle!!

2) Money to pay for the audit that is currently being done…$500

3) $2000 to rewire the house in town, the one we use for the children who are referred to us after hours and need overnight accommodation. This is urgent as we were told recently that there is every possibility we could have an electrical fire.

4) $200 for text books

5) $785,000 for the Hotel Rio!!!!!!!

6) Please pray for Sharky who is now the National Director.

7) Please pray for the YFC staff – they are such an amazing bunch of people who give of themselves everyday expecting nothing in return. Every day I thank God for each one of them.

8) Praise God for Kevin and Sue Grant who came for a visit and are always a huge encouragement to all the YFC staff. Thanks guys for all you did for YFC and for me personally. We LOVED having you!!!

9) Praise God for people like Flora who go out of their way to make our children feel special.

10) Praise God also that all our children who are all well at the moment, especially our babies.

In closing I want to say thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Being on the “front line” can often be very difficult. Thank you for standing in the gap for us. We appreciate all of you.

In His service

Debbie Brennocks
Sandra Jones Children’s Village
(A ministry of Youth for Christ Zimbabwe)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today I am feeling really down.  For the first time we have had to turn children away.  We just don't have any more room!! This is something I never wanted to do but we have no choice now. 

 We are still fighting for St Joseph's and at the same time trying to raise the money for the Hotel Rio.  The owners of the hotel have finally given me the amount they want....Option 1 - $800,000-$200,000 deposit and then $600,000 by October 31st.  Option 2 - $1,000,000- $400,000 deposit and then $150,000 every six months for two years OR Option 3 - $1,200,000 - $400,000 deposit and then $167,000 every six months for the next three years.   Once the deposit is paid we could move in!!!!

We are considering renting until we can buy the Hotel but finding a big enough property is difficult and expecting people to rent their property to a children's home is even more difficult.  Se we continue to wait on the Lord trusting that He knows what's best for us.

On a positive note we have finally been giving permission to take 6 year old Tafara...the little boy I spoke about in a previous post. Thank goodness we have finally been able to get this little boy away that home. He will stay in town with us until has has his medical examination and then move out to the village.  He is a sweet little boy.  Let's pray he settles in well and is happy in his new home.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Michaela is looking much better now.  She is eating well and looks much happier.  Fleur had to take Sipho to the specialist yesterday afternoon.  She would not eat or drink and even though we were pumping her full of rehydration fluid it was not working.  By yesterday afternoon she was very weak.  The doctor put her on to antibiotics and by lunch time today she was looking much stronger.  Many thanks to all her prayed for her.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Last week we were asked to take a 13 year girl who has been abused by her stepbrother for the past 2 years.  The family tried to hide the matter but it eventually came to light and social welfare removed her from the home.  The stepbrother is now missing.  We were also asked to take a ten year old rape victim but before we could take her the family sent her out to the rural area.  They are trying to protect the abuser. The police are dealing with this matter. 

We are still fighting to get the 6 year old boy I wrote about in my post.  Please pray that he can be removed from the home as quickly as possible...things tend to work very slowly in Africa. 

Two of our children are sick with vomiting and diarrehea - 9 month old Michaela and three year old Sipho, who is the little sister to Panashe, the little girl I spoke about in my newsletter. Please won't you pray for these two children. It's never nice when children as sick but so much harder in a large children's centre because it puts an even heavier load on the housemothers.

On a happier note, the kids at SJCV had a great time on Saturday morning after a church group visited them and brought party food and gifts.  There was lots of fun and games and it was wonderful to see them all so happy.

Finally my four year old told me yesterday that this year we must put up two christmas trees so that we can gets "two times"presents!!!!