Kya Sands Catastrophe

kya little girlFollowing God’s path for our lives has led Rich and me across a 9,000-mile journey from Crestwood, Kentucky, to Johannesburg, South Africa … an amazing and beautiful country in which we daily encounter the faces of those living in desperate conditions.  Since moving here last January, I have had the great privilege of working in a special ministry alongside exceptional women from our church, Bryanston Bible Church (BBC).  We meet weekly with small children, ages approximately 3-8, in Kya Sands squatter’s camp (a slum area).  These children live in extreme poverty in crudely constructed shacks made of tin and other discarded building materials that provide only meager shelter.  Our deep desire is to be in some small way, the hands and feet of Jesus … providing lots of love and hugs, food, physical activity to increase hand/eye coordination and basic language instruction.

The "classroom" under the tree

The “classroom” under the tree

The children eagerly meet us each Tuesday morning in a small open area at the edge of the camp in our outdoor “classroom under the tree”.  An open sewage ditch about 5 feet deep is a major obstacle for the small children to cross as they come to our “classroom” among the piles of rubbish and debris.  A large burned out area of grass off to the side is the bathroom … open for all to see … no privacy … no proper toilet facilities.

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

The "bathroom"

The “bathroom”

Miss Sue singing "Jesus Loves Me" with 4-year-old Kenny

Miss Sue singing “Jesus Loves Me” with 4-year-old Kenny

The tragic Kya Sands fire

The tragic Kya Sands fire

As if life was not hard enough for these precious children and their families, a few weeks ago a tragic fire roared through parts of Kya where many of our children live.  Over 750 shacks were destroyed and more than 3,500 people were left homeless, having lost everything.  NHIM has joined with some of my former colleagues at Crestwood Elementary (Oldham County, Kentucky) and donors from BBC to provide much needed assistance.  When I asked the ladies what they needed, the response was just 3 simple items … a small kerosene stove to cook on, a pot to make pap in (the staple starch in South Africa – think thick grits) and a large bucket with a lid, as the ladies must carry water a considerable distance.  While these items seem simple to us, they represent life to these families.  In addition to these desperately needed items, we have also been able to provide plastic plates and cups, silverware, blankets, towels, clothing and toiletries.

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Even though the fire has long since been extinguished, the emotional scars on an already disenfranchised people will take time, prayers and the loving kindness of Christian people to heal. Please, pray and help as you can … you can be a part of the healing process.  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 

~ Lori Lauter Wright, NHIM Board Member

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