Pastor Samson’s community was a very difficult place to live. There was a heavy sense of pain there. HIV was rampant and rapidly taking lives. “Every single weekend we had at least 6 to 7 funerals for parents or children being buried,” Pastor Samson said. “Our community burial ground is completely full.” This was the way of life for this community, they started to become accustomed to trauma and suffering. “The consequence of this has been many of the adults are dying and leaving orphaned children behind. We have approximately 892 orphans here.” The older children had to become the head of their households. Undernourishment and disease among the children was a huge problem.
When the Raising Families project began in the community, Samaritan’s Purse worked with Pastor Samson and his church inspiring them through scriptural and practical teaching to reach out to their community to meet their needs. “We were able to fully understand the depth of the real problems in our community,” said Pastor Samson. “We discovered that we were able to do something about it. We were taught how to identify the most vulnerable in our community and how to address them and engage the church.”
Pastor Samson knew that the children were the ones most affected and that the church together could help them. “We started talking to three other churches in our community. We decided that we wanted to adopt a group of 54 children. Our plan was to take the most vulnerable and put them into families and allocate dedicated, trained caregivers to every group of 7 children.” The churches used the Raising Families training to grow maize, beans and sweet potato. They built up sustainable resources through small livelihoods to purchase food, cooking pots and utensils for the children. “We have been able to keep all these children healthy and strong. Malnutrition has been eradicated completely from our community. We no longer have hungry children and disease has reduced drastically. People are talking with hope again!” The Raising Families scheme has been nicknamed ‘Thembelilhe’ by the community, which means ‘Beautiful Hope’.