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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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.
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
Sandra Jones Children’s Village
(A ministry of Youth for Christ Zimbabwe)