A MINISTRY OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN ST. PETER’S CONGREGATION, PRETORIA

diakonia1Lefika la Botshabelo (Psalm 18:2 ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.’)

The Lefika project has its roots in working together with St. Peter’s Child Care (Park View, Johannesburg).

The first step was to open a special foster care home and drop-in centre in the inner city of Tshwane. From the very beginning it has transformed into a project that focusses on strengthening the family bonds of vulnerable and orphaned children which remained.

It is a project motivated by Matthew 25, which calls the believer to reach out to the least of the brothers and sisters. That’s why the project nowadays takes action at Stinkwater. Literally, there, where the city of Tshwane ends, according to the Biblical message.

Being a ‘rock of refuge’ as mentioned in Psalm 18:2, for vulnerable and orphaned children is the aim of this diaconal project.

In the beginning of the last two decades St. Peter’s Lutheran Church was a leading partner in some significant programs that helped to create an inner city social-diaconal infra-structure. This church started the Multi-disciplinary Counselling and Resource Centre.

That initiative opened space for a broader networking and formal partnerships. One of them is the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, which is still very significant as well as the partnership with James 1:27. The main focus of these partnerships has been the fight against HIV and AIDS, primarily focusing on addressing the social development and welfare needs of children.

It is was Lefika la Botshabelo continues to do. The following services are in high demand:

  • empowerment to field workers
  • psycho-social support
  • social relief in distress
  • alternative care for children
  • nutritional support
  • strengthening the available care and support

The focus is the protection of children who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Our purpose: We are open to be wounded by the pain and brokenness of our city as we reach out as servant people, who are included by the love of God into his family, let to commitment to share in God’s history and equipped to be servants of God in the city.

If you are interested to learn more, continue to read the Year Report 2015. The Centre has continued to be involved in inner-city community activities as follows:

diakonia225-26 February: Homeless Summit organized by Tshwane Mayoral office, Tshwane Homeless Forum and University of Pretoria. The main purpose was to review the Homeless Policy and to develop strategy for Tshwane to ensure that the homeless people receive proper care. What was heart-warming was that the homeless people were given the platform to inform the delegates about their situation and emphasized that they want to be part of decisions about there are.  An international speaker from New York made a presentation that made the delegates that homelessness is an international problem, which need international solutions.

SOCIAL JUSTICE CONFERENCE:  11-17 August 2015

1. 11-12 August 2015

This conference was organised by the University of Pretoria Theology Department and Tshwane Leadership Foundation.

Workshop: Parenting in the City.

On the first day parents had their workshop in the morning. Drama was used to portray the negative attitude towards children by their mothers, who are stressed by work and other factors, and mothers who were abused after leaving their children and staying in a shelter.

In the afternoon children had their session using a similar format.

On the second day, a workshop was held with leaders of different NGOs caring for children in the city of Tshwane. Feedback was given by the UP facilitators. From this report it was deduced that there is poor parenting experienced by children. It was also clear that most parents do not possess the skill of parenting, as there is no school for that.

After in- depth deliberations the decision was that to address poor communication between parents and their children and lack of parenting skills a forum called “Tshwane Parent and Child Network” be established, and will meet every alternate month, and should be expanded to other interested persons.

2. 14-17 August  2015: Child Theology Conference:  Theme: “And a little Child shall lead them”. Isaiah 11:6 Venue, St Peter’s Lutheran Church

In addressing the theme, Matt 18: 2-3, He called a little child and had him stand among them, and He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven”. The core message of all presentations, academic and anecdotal focussed on the Church placing the children at the centre in all activities including Sacraments. As part of the ways the Church is involved in reaching out to children as its ministry. I made a presentation on Lefika.

St Peter is planning a workshop facilitated by UP Contextual Theology Unit at a date and time to be determined.

21 December 2015: World Aids Day Commemoration: The director of the Centre, appointed as a Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) Resource Person for ELCSA NT Church, organized a commemoration of World AIDS Day was held at St Peter’s on 21 November 2015, 28 OVCs and accompanied by two Child Care Workers and 12 St Peter’s Young adults were in attendance. Mr S Tsima, a Life Couch from COMETSA, presented a guidance talk based on the three issues: THE MIND, which determines purpose; THE JOURNEY, which determines the plan to reach THE DESTINY. Two of our young adults also gave motivational talks to our OVCs from Stinkwater. The representative of Sun-gardens Hospice made a presentation on HIV prevention. All participants undertook Voluntary Counselling and Testing which was conducted by officials of the hospice. The participants were served a sumptuous meal prepared by a chef who is a friend of one of our congregants.

The director of the centre is a member of several Government Committees/for a, as well as a member of PEN board.

diakonia3As mentioned before counselling is done in a form of accompanying those in need on a faith journey, as and when a need arise.

May 2015: During Harvest Celebration of the English Language Ministry, PRC East donated groceries to ten very needy families of OVC under Lefika, which was received with appreciation.

PSYCHO-SOCIAL SERVICES TO OVC

A research study conducted by Thato Mnguni, a Masters student at Pretoria University in September 2014, was to investigate whether children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV related illness who reside in Stinkwater, indeed experience psychological problems according to literature reviewed. The following are findings of the study:

PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN WHO PRESENTED WITH SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

OVERALL GROUP PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

CONDUCT PROBLEMS
NORMAL: 51.9; BORDERLINE: 10.7; ABNORMAL: 37.4

DEPRESSION
SIGNIFICANT LEVELS OF DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS: 71.8 NO DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS: 28.2

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
PRESENCE OF PTSD: 69.5; NO STSD SYMPTOMS: 30.5

ANXIETY
ANXIETY SYMPTOMS: 20.6; ELEVATED ANXIETY SYMPTOMS: 79.4

PRO-SOCIAL TOTAL SCALE SCORES
NORMAL: 74.8 BORDER LINE: 10.7; ABNORMAL: 14.5

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The research results are indicative that a majority of participants do indeed exhibit psychosocial problems. The researcher recommends that the departments of Health and Social Development be informed with concerns of mental health of children who need services and social support from them.
  • The Department of Health would then, hopefully, permit clinical psychologists under their auspices to further conduct individual clinical assessments.
  • The Department of Social Development should provide Lefika with assistance on areas of psychosocial support, HIV and AIDS social protection, child care and protection.
  • Child mental health services are rare in local semi-rural or township areas.
  • In addition, Lefika la Botshabelo OVC Centre should continue providing psychological services where they can.

IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Lefika has established Support Groups coordinated by Child Care Workers, comprising of OVC and their guardians 61.8% of which are grand- parents according to this study) and OVC. The aim is to improve communication between guardians (PCG) and OVC.

A meeting was held with the Chief Directorate of Mental Health to assist with provision of Psychologist services and to partner with Social Workers at Ward level in Stinkwater,  this is still work in progress.

26/07/2015

32 children accompanied by their Child Care workers attended a Diaconical service at St Peter’s Lutheran Church. The service text was taken from Exodus 22:22-24, which warns people not to take advantage of widows or orphans. The chairperson Mrs Phaahla gave a heartfelt speech. The Word and the music and poetic performed by the OVC was very emotional as they addressed the unfortunate conditions they live under, the song “Se’nzeni  na?”, caused most of the congregants to shed a tear.

It is heart- warming to report that the congregants were sincerely moved and filled with compassion as many thereafter pledged their support.  The young adults have already started a fund raising project. At my meeting with their executive committee on 21/09/2015, I gave them an overview of Lefika so that they can make an informed decision as to how they can support Lefika.  We will have a follow up meeting during which they will give a report on their plans.

10 August 2015

ROLL OUT OF THE LEFIKA MODEL OF INTEGRATED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO OTHER COMMUNITIES

The directors of Lefika and Siyaphila, have visited Ga-Phaahla community to implement the model in February 2015. On 22 October 2015, the Ministry of the aged was launched with women dressed in their colourful traditional dress, it was overwhelming. They also exhibited the products of all their projects, sewing, art and craft, vegetables etc. Representatives of the Ga-Matlala community attended this occasion.  

Together with Siya-phila the director of Lefika went to Ga-Matlala, Marbelhall, to launch the Integrated Community Development Model in March 2015, with the old ladies soccer tournament, challenging their grandsons in commemoration of Women’s month. It was a beautiful day attended by the local government officials and a large crowd of women graced the occasion with their traditional dance and colourful dress. By end of November 2015,  17 ladies involved in bottling and selling archar to the community, had accumulated enough money to buy each other’s family Christmas groceries.

On 07 December 2015, we held a thanks-giving church service to give testimony to the blessings we received within one year in these two communities.  All denominations were represented in this celebration, amazing grace of God was demonstrated by young and old, hence we all agreed that a Community Church was launched. The leadership was made up of Siyaphila, Lefika, Hatfied Christian Church, Bapedi Boela Setsong (Ga-Phaahla), Mayor and Ga-Matlala-Ramoshebo Community.
 
28 August 2015: A meeting was held with Ms Molefe, a social worker of the Gauteng Department of Social Development, this was the first time since Lefika was involved with this Department, as a beneficiary of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Incentive Grant.

The following were shared during the meeting:

  1. Lefika’s Integrated Community Development model  from establishment to date
  2. Findings of Research Study on Psychological problems experienced by OVC under Lefika

Her concern was that the ratio of CCW (Child Care worker) to Households was too high, and her suggestion was that we should keep to a norm of 1:12, and that we should check if some of our children are not benefitting from similar NGOs in Stinkwater.

Lefika received a signed Service Level Agreement and application forms for the establishment of a Dropping Centre.

A funding proposal was submitted to the Gauteng Department of Social Development on 30 September 2015 and on 30 October 2015, the Chairperson, Mr Botha and the writer of the report, went to present the Lefika project to the panel of senior officials of the department, the response is awaited.

Gauteng Department Social Development has offered training Community Development to 4 Lefika OVC VIZ. Le Rose Jabavu;Malehlohonolo Ndingindlela; Sonto Mhlongo and Mpho Fisha; and a CCW Shadi Tshehlo.  They underwent orientation in December2015 and will start with the programme in January 2016.

14 November 2015

A Christmas Celebration was held in Namo Primary School in Stinkwater.  In attendance were OVC from six primary schools, accompanied by their educators, as well as several from high schools.  Members of Siyaphila, St Peter’s and other NGOs came in good numbers.  It was a true Christmas celebration, more of a church service as the children sang Christmas carols, recited Psalms and some used Bible verses. The day was graced with a saxophone performance by Pastor Jakubeit and her friend. It was a wow!!! Our children have developed so much confidence in themselves that it is such a pleasure to see them performing on stage.

On 21 December 2015, a World Aids Commemoration was held at St Peter’s Church hall. 28 OVC and 2 CCW and 12 St Peter’s Young Adults were in attendance. Mpho Sathekge one of our Children’s mentors attended and graciously provided a professional chef to prepare a sumptuous meal. Officials of Sun-gardens Hospice offered VCT, ALL CHILDREN TESTED NEGATIVE. AMAZING GRACE!!!!

2 Young adults gave motivational talks to children with emphasis on values they should uphold, a life couch, Mr S Tsima who was invited by Mpho from Kempton Park Lutheran Congregation gave a talk based on 3 principles/issues: 1.THE MIND (which determines purpose);  2.THE JOURNEY (plans); 3. THE DESTINY (goal), small group discussions were held to share thoughts about the talk. Children were excited with the exercise.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR UNDER REVIEW

  1. PSYCHO-SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
    Findings of Research on Pshological problems experienced by OVC under Lefika, lead to implementation of
    one of the recommendations resulting in establishment of support groups.

  2. EDUCATION:
    The Telkom Project on Improving Numeracy and Literacy in the Foundation phase in Namo Primary School, has been so successful that due to the excellent performance of these children, the school is going to be upgraded to a Model C school. The principal is willing to roll it out to other schools in Stinkwater.

  3. ROLLING OUT THE LEFIKA INTEGRATED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MODEL TO OTHER COMMUNITIES
    Launching the model in Ga-Phaahla and Ga-Matlala- Ramoshebo communities n Limpompo with great success. A Thanksgiving Church service was held in Ga-Matlala- Ramoshebo which was attended by both community members. To us it was an establishment of Community Church because several Christian denominations were represented.

  4. TRAINING
    4 OVC and 1 CCW traing in Community Development starting in January 2016

  5. CHSITMAS CELEBRATION
    For 7 years consecutively holding a successful celebration, during which children entertain themselves and have shown growth in confidence in themselves, a positive sign of psychosocial development.

  6. WORLD AIDS DAY COMMEMORATION
    For the second year Lefika held a commemoration of this day at St Peter’s , VCT was conducted on all children and all tested negative.

  7. ST PETER’S YOUNG ADULTS
    This group has participated in both the Christmas celebration in Stinkwater and WAD commemoration . They also provided financial support.

CONCLUSION

Although funding remains a challenge, it is amazing how much have been achieved in reaching out to the needy communities. Our gratitude goes to pastor Heike Jakubeit and the Congregational Council and the congregation of St. Peter’s, who continually provide support to this Ministry. This is a confirmation that WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!! 

Gallery

Image and Bible‘ that’s the theme of one of the years preparing for the Reformation Jubilee in 2017. You will not see biblical images, but lots of photographs of congregational events, which are influenced by the Bible, if you look here.

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