EI Canada's annual Gala Auction Fundraiser took place on October 28, 2023, with 165 attendees enjoying a night filled with delicious food, lively bidding on highly sought-after items, and insights into Safe Houses in South Africa. The evening began with an hour of mingling and silent auction bidding on 180+ items, followed by a delicious meal by World Class Executive Chef, Donald Williams. The live auction included an Apple Pie selling for $200! and a Strawberry Rhubarb for $110, making for an entertaining and engaging night of bidding.
Before our Keynote speaker, Don Sayers, our program continued with Brittiany deVoogd-Zegarra, an International Development student at Tyndale University. Brittany interned with EI Canada and spent her one-month placement in Tanzania. She shared insights from her experience living in Tanzania, highlighting her interactions with community church leaders, leaving her feeling enriched by her experience. Don Sayers, EI Country Director in South Africa, told the inspiring story of how the Safe House ministry began, with wonderful children benefitting from loving house parents who care for them as their own. A video presentation showcased the Safe Houses, featuring several children, and included an interview from Rachel Madola, a dedicated house parent. She left a lasting impression on all of us.
During the interview Rachel shared a heartfelt desire to care for the children and the challenges they face daily. Her decision to become a house parent was motivated by her observation of children on rainy streets with nowhere to go. She knew she could make a difference by serving them. Thank you, God, for sending Rachel to love, guide and support these children. Don shared, “The EI Gala was such a pleasure to attend. It was so enjoyable from the starters, the auction, to the fantastic SA themed meal that I nearly forgot I was the guest speaker as I tucked into my malva pudding. The financial blessing of the evening is more than I could have imagined as was the reception from those who spoke with me afterwards about the Safe House ministry. I felt far more special than I deserve, thanks to the kindness and generosity of those who attended, and I know the Safe House children will be blessed by the love shown.”
Now, for what we have all been waiting for! We are excited to share that we have raised over $53,000 to support the Safe Houses ministry. This generous contribution will go a long way and can cover various important aspects, including: • Running costs of the homes • Repairs to the homes (e.g. floors, cupboards, etc.) • Replacement of bunk beds and mattresses • Towards a vehicle that takes them to appointments and activities We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the EI family in helping us make a difference in the lives of these vulnerable children.
The Safe House Ministry
The Safe House ministry was formed by Emmanuel International South Africa (EI SA) in 2009 and is located in the informal township of Masiphumelele, south of Cape Town. EI SA’s partner in keeping orphans and vulnerable children safe is African Hope Trust.
After working in HIV care and prevention for 6 years prior, Don was all too familiar with the plight of children that were left behind in the wake of the HIV pandemic – the desperately high number of abandoned and abused children left to fend for themselves and the increase in drug and alcohol abuse in the impoverished townships.
The concept of foster parent-led homes in the informal settlements of South Africa, as a practical and sustainable way to provide a family for the children who did not have that hope, was formed. These Safe Houses are partnered with ocal churches to improve the spiritual support of the mums and children, as well as logistical support in counselling, transport, tutoring and discipleship.
The goal of the Safe House ministry is to build homes, not just of safety, but genuine places of familial nurturing for children who have been abandoned, abused or orphaned. The children have the opportunity to be raised in a Godly home environment where permanent foster mothers or parents, from the same culture, raise them as their own (but legally as a foster parent).
Each home is led by a full-time and devoted house mother who raises and cares for 6 children in each home, 24 hours a day, every day. This size allows for a genuine sense of ‘family’ for the children who are referred to the safe homes and enables the house mother to spend quality time with the children rather than simply feeding and sheltering them. It is a place of love and discipleship. The small scale has very real benefits as compared to larger institutional sized orphanages where the children often come out ‘institutionalized’.
The mothers view their work with the children as a calling rather than a ‘job’. It is through this devotion that we are able to create a genuine home environment where the children begin to view the foster-mum as ‘mum’ and the other children as siblings.
The children remain in the house indefinitely or until extended family members can be found. However, even when extended family is found, they are often not willing or able to care for the child that has been left behind or removed from an abusive home environment.