How It Started

How Helping Hands Started

A few years ago, a farmer in our community, Mark Lonsdale, received a call from the head mistress of a local primary school. They had worked together previously on a community project. The head mistress, Londiwe Ndwandwe, was very concerned about some of the children in her school. Many were orphaned, hungry, missing school and living in very undesirable situations. She needed help.

Forty of the four hundred children in the school were identified by her as being the most vulnerable and in desperate need. They were orphans from AIDS ravaged families and the victims of poverty, neglect and in some situations, abuse.

Mark and his wife Vicci decided to set up a feeding scheme to meet the children’s immediate need for nutrition. The forty children started receiving a meal a day from the school kitchen and so Helping Hands was born!

After a while, it became evident that some of the children needed greater care on a daily basis. Through a church connection, Khuliliwe Nhlenyama, who had previously worked with orphans, was employed by Helping Hands to care for and counsel the children while they were at school. While she helped the children cope with their circumstances, she continued to study social work.

Khuliliwe suggested that the Helping Hands team have a look at some of the different models of orphanages she had been exposed to. A model used in Ngwavuma was deemed as being the most appropriate for the local conditions, and thus Helping Hands decided to follow this model.

The model consisted of small homes to house the children and supply their physical needs. Each house was led by a house mother, who cared for the children, and met their spiritual and emotional needs.

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