Category Archives: Life in South Africa

Pray for Germany

Yesterday I took some time to make a Lebkuchenhaus with my little boys.

We have summer holidays here in South Africa. Nevertheless I want them to grow up with some of the German Christmas traditions I so cherish.

While the English do have something they call gingerbread it is not even close to true Lebkuchen. And we don’t really enjoy that burning ginger taste. Lebkuchen dough is made with honey and many spices and has to rest a few days before baking.

So yesterday we took the dough I prepared earlier from the fridge and started baking, decorating and assembling this little house.

While I go through length to preserve some true German Christmas tradition, Germany this year shocked me with throwing out these reminders of Christ in order to not offend Muslim migrants. Schools and Kindergartens were asked to refrain from singing Christmas carols and some Christmas markets were renamed into Winter market.

Last night there was an attack on a German Christmas market. 12 people were killed and 48 injured.

Why is Christmas, the story of a little baby boy being born as Gods promise for the salvation of mankind, so offensive to some? Why are Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere persecuted and killed for their faith?

Why do a nations leaders opt to repurpose Christmas instead of sharing this story of Gods humble decision to dwell amongst us as a child?

christmasThe forces of darkness can’t tolerate the messengers of light. Christmas always came at a price. We can ignore the persecution of Christians in the middle east until persecution is at our own doorstep or chose to help answer protest.

While Muslim nations forbid Christmas celebrations, German officials have congratulated Muslim immigrants to their religious holidays and then proceeded to repurpose Christmas markets as oriental bazaars and winter markets. Instead of teaching immigrants about Christianity and the values that made the European countries so attractive to migrants in the first place, German kids had to endure compulsory visits to mosques this year. There was very little resistance from churches, in fact leaders of state financed churches rose up to claim Allah and the God of the bible are the same. Christian refugees who often flee serious persecution in Muslim nations are being assaulted in Germany, the country they came to for safety. By Muslims, who are treated with utter cultural sensibility.

But there are many strong believers in Germany. Intercede for them to rise up, unashamed. There are pastors who are warning against Islamisation and face severe disciplinary actions against them.

Read more on how you can intercede for Germany here>

Pray for Germany: Intercession

Jesus came as a baby in the middle of persecution. Romans where pressing His people hard for taxes, the religious clergy had no answers, the Edomite king Herod slaughtered thousands of babies trying to kill Jesus and only angelic visitations provided Joseph with the necessary insight to bring his family into safety.

Since then, Christians have always been on the receiving end of persecution for what they believe. Although the message is one of love.

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His kingdom is not one of Earthly power and manipulation. Those who seek earthly fame will always hate those who proclaim eternal life.

God is just. I pray that Germany will reach out and preach the gospel to all those seeking shelter and refuge from the pain they tried to escape. I also pray that the country will not throw its pearls down the drain but conserve their Christian heritage and not tolerate persecution of Christianity within their borders.

‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?” Acts 7:49

Prepare your heart as a dwelling place for the Lord.

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Our Lebkuchenhaus.

 

 

 

 

We might have never had kids …

Time to be thankful. Steven is now 6 years old and a healthy, happy boy. Do you know that we almost never had him?

In the video you see him as a healthy 3 month old baby. Which is amazing, considering the fact that he was a preemie born 7 weeks early.
With a 3 kg fibroid I was told I would have to have a hysterectomy.
We so much wanted kids. I was already 28 years old when we got married, considering that my now husband worked in South Africa and I held a job in Stuttgart, Germany, we took our time to pray about that big decision. When I hit 32 and we still had not fallen pregnant  (I never used any contraception my entire life) we decided to consult a specialist.
The doctors here in South Africa saw no chance for that. We had made a 5 hour journey from rural South Africa to Pretoria to consult with fertility specialists at the Femina clinic. They were very concerned and wanted to immediately schedule a removal of my womb since I had this huge fibroid.

Taking a moment in the park at the Union buildings in Pretoria, we were very devastated at the news. But I knew God’s command to be fruitful. This couldn’t be the end of the road. Instead I felt we should immediately go to a christian book store and get something that would motivate us in this sad moment.

I picked up the book supernatural childbirth by Jackie Mize and began reading and believing. I read it out loud to my husband all the way back to Louis Trichardt. All those scripture verses about God’s promises of offspring really lifted our faith. So we tried again and within 2 month we fell pregnant.

My gynae told me not to get excited at all, she predicted the pregnancy would not go full term. At 12 weeks I began bleeding. At 14 weeks there was heavy leakage, I was hospitalized and told to terminate as there was visibly on sonar no more fluid left in the womb.

I talked to my unborn child and told Steven to hold on and promised him he would be able to swim a lot later. I prayed 2 days non stop. The doctors tried to convince me to terminate, saying his lungs and kidneys and brain might be too damaged. But of course that would be a decision that a mother cannot take. I was at peace, if this baby couldn’t hold on he would go and be with Jesus, fine. But I would fight for his life!

After 48 hrs the water had come back and a specialized gynae said she could see how there is scar tissue on my placenta where it could have been torn. At 30 weeks I went into labour, with the help of Adalat the doctors tried to stall contractions for one more week while I received steroids to strenghten babies lungs.

At 31 weeks Steven was born via C-section, 2 days later we had to go home since we couldn’t pay further medical costs. South Africa is really tough that way.

Steven one day after his birth. A strong and happy 1.8 kg baby born at 31 weeks breathing and nursing perfectly,
Steven one day after his birth. A strong and happy 1.8 kg baby born at 31 weeks breathing and nursing perfectly,

Steven was breathing and nursing perfectly and overcame a slight jaundice rather quick and today he is a happy healthy child.

can you believe how tiny he was?
can you believe how tiny he was?

I had the fibroid removed by the only doctor we could find in South Africa who would do it on a 3kg sized growth, everyone else wanted to perform a hysterectomy. 1 year later I fell pregnant and delivered a healthy baby at 38 weeks. Wow thank you Jesus!

Our two big boys!
Our two big boys! There is a PayPal link of you want to drop them something little to say Hi.

We simply can’t pass a stop street without doing this first:

We simply cant pass any stop street without stopping first to jump the letters STOP.

So much fun. Of course mom makes sure there is no care anywhere in sight first.

Sammy, 3 came up with this game last year after asking me what these letters meant.

Luckily we have some quiet streets nearby where they can safely jump their S.T.O.P.

You can help: Comfort boxes for kids testifying in court: going into the second year.

Once off projects are great. Having a sustainable community running for its second year is awesome.

Our project has so far provided over 170 victims of child abuse with a box of comfort while awaiting their testimony at court. Here is what it is all about:

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In my work as a pastor and counselor at Emmanuel Church Louis Trichardt and headmistress of Emmanuel Kinderland preschool I have come to work with many people who themselves were survivors of abuse or came on behalf of a close friend or relative who had suffered through sexual abuse and rape.

As you are well aware of South Africa has a devastatingly high rate of rape, wikipedia talks about the highest rape rate in the world.

The SAPS statistics report that there were 64,514 sexual offenses reported to the police in South Africa in 2012 alone of which over 45% percent where child rapes. However, variable reports claim that only 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 rapes actually get reported. This means that the numbers could actually run up to 1,548,336 rapes every year

This means that someone is raped as often as every 4 minutes

Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”

The greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under the age of seven (Rape Statistics South Africa & Worldwide 2011 www.rape.co.za) 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18. 85% of them will be by perpetrators known to the child. It is crucial that perpetrators will be identified and severely punished.

When predators get away with it, it will happen again and again. 40%percent of South African men have raped for the first time when they were under aged themselves. Why is it possible? Cases do not get to court and when they do, it can mean a potentially traumatizing experience to the child and the family. In many rural communities to report abuse means to risk ones life. Houses get burned down and families ostracized for telling on the criminal. It is crucial that cases do go to court as to send a clear message that abuse is not acceptable.

Most rapists are serial rapists. Seeing them severely punished for their crime acts as a deterrent for other potential rapists while every one that “gets away” is per implication an encouragement in his social circles to others to keep doing the same.
There are so many facets where we need to be involved in to start preventing these crimes.

We as Emmanuel Church and community need to do our utmost to make the conditions for survivors testifying as bearable as possible.

I am asking church members, parents of our preschool and community members to assist in putting together comfort boxes for children testifying in court, as these parcels can provide a minimum of comfort to a child in such a stressful situation.

20141110_130032_resizedIt generally is a big struggle to get child abuse cases to trial, as the young girls are being shamed and not supported by the local culture. Also, at court the young abuse survivors face many challenges. Long hours of waiting, having never met their intermediaries before, testifying, often 3 hours of cross examinations are just a few of the challenges. The children are often spending an entire day at court without having even had a breakfast. The children are often nervous and shy. When they are not able to establish proper communication and to prove that they actually say the truth, the case gets dismissed and the offender cannot be judged.

Often the girls and boys (we make special boxes for boys) will be too shy and close up totally so their testimony can not be validated and subsequently the case cannot go into trial.

I came up with the method of using care boxes to help the children relax.

The box contains a new, cute stuffed toy to immediately help the intermediary form a connection with the child.

The box contains a high quality fruit juice and some snacks to help keep the child alert during a long and hard trial.

Furthermore there are crayons, colouring books and sticker activities to help the children bridge times where the court is in recess or formalities need to be followed up with, which can talke an hour or more.

All items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality. The box is closed with a sticker (picture provided) that says you are special and indicates whether the box is for a boy or a girl.

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At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa. Children often have not had anything to eat or drink when they arrive in the morning. often trials take more than 4 hours. Our boxes give the children something to occupy themselves with during waiting times.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.

We have handed out over 100 boxes in 2014 of the value of 70 -100 Rand each. This year we have been able to make 70 boxes so far. We are weekly informed by the intermediaries working with the children in court on how many boxes have been handed out and what the age and gender of the children is, to ensure we provide for the right needs. Monthly we need about 30 to 40 boxes as they go to the different Magistrate Courts in the are such as Sibasa, Waterval, Musina etc. This project has been developed with the approval of the SA Department of Justice.

Your assistance in providing juices, snacks, colouring in and sticker activity books, stuffed toys and sweets is highly appreciated.

Christiane van Heerden

Check out my blog for the option to support with a paypal donation

Comfort Boxes in the Newspaper

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015

wishesI want to thank all of my readers and subscribers for your support during this challenging, wonderful year.

I am thankful for the wonderful impact our court care boxes had on the work of the court staff and young survivors.

I am happy for a year of preparing preschoolers for “big school”. What a privilege.

I am thankful for my church being a beacon of light in the community.

Thanks for your interest in not only the easy and beautiful but also the trying and plain sad realities of life.

I trust that we were able to bring relief to a lot of suffering children here in South Africa and to be of encouragement to every one who is using their life to bring encouragement and add love and hope to others.

Have a great time “between the years” as we say in Germany.

Love, Christiane

wpid-wpid-91im2p9hj5l-_sl720_.jpgPS If you are interested in learning more about my spiritual background and want to read some 60+ amazing testimonies of God’s supernatural interference in our life I recommend you get a copy of our ebook or paperback on amazon.com. This would also support us for future projects as we are always operating on a very tight budget and the needs greatly exceed the available funds – as everyone experiences who wants to make a difference! :-)))

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Inspirational words for 2015

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Words for your nation.

New courtboxes delivered to the intermediaries

On Sunday November 16th I had the big privilige to hand over 40 more court care boxes to magistrate court representatives Mulaudzi Mukondeleli and Ntabisini Dzivhani visiting our church. 40 more boxes will be delivered once these are all given out to the young witnesses of assault. _MG_2816 _MG_2818 courtboxesThe court representatives were so excited about our practical help. Ntabisini then proceeded to share with our senior class in children’s church about the dangers of abuse and how to avoid abusive situations and help friends who can not help themselves. Definitely not your average sunday school topic but since the Limpopo province has such high numbers of child abuse, we can not shut our eyes. On that sunday we also launched our first book, so we have been keeping really, really busy! _MG_2826a

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Care Boxes in the local paper

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Thanks to everyone who helped making this possible.

We delivered care boxes to 6 different district magistrate courts and helped many under aged victims of abuse in testifying at court.

Sorry for my short posts. I am busy writing reports for my students at preschool most of them will enter formal school next year. I will keep you posted on our preschool concert and everything!

New Comfort Boxes for Child Abuse Survivors

IMG-20141110-WA0003_resizedYes, the road to recovery is a long one. Yes, a box full of helpful comforting items is just a tiny stepping stone on that long road of healing.  but it is an important one, as this box aids the young children’s capacity to testify in the Magistrate court against their abusers.

You probably are already familiar with the high child abuse statistics in the Limpopo Province South Africa, where every 3 min a child is raped.

Listen to this letter of the Intermediary at the Magistrate court, Salome Phaho,  in which she wrote me this morning: (the style reflects the local tone of communication in South Africa)

“Beloved am delighted to hear we receiving new boxes again, am already jumping with the joy of the Lord which has given me strength. I am already looking forward to welcome those victims knowing they will receive full support and comfort from the Lord through those gifts.

I am amazed by the love you have for the vulnerable which to many whose eyes of understanding the Lord haven’t  yet enlightened,  the story still remains the “same”, they should have been careful enough or could have prevented it somehow and you ask yourself but how since some victims are hardly a year old.” 

She refers to the care boxes I am making up with the help of friends and church members.

20141110_134747_resizedWe will be handing out about 30 -40 more boxes soon of the value of 70 -100 Rand each.

It generally is a big struggle to get child abuse cases to trial, as the young girls are being shamed and not supported by the local culture, as you could read in the letter above.  Also, at court the young abuse survivors face many challenges. Long hours of waiting, having never met their intermediaries before, testifying, often 3 hours of cross examinations are just a few of the challenges.

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Often the girls and boys (we make special boxes for boys too) will be too shy and close up totally so their testimony can not be validated and subsequently the case cannot go into trial.

I came up with the method of using care boxes to help the children relax. The box contains a new, cute stuffed toy to immediately help the intermediary form a connection with the child. The box contains a high quality fruit juice and some snacks to help keep the child alert during a long and hard trial. Furthermore there are crayons, colouring books and sticker activities to help the children bridge times where the court is in recess or formalities need to be followed up with, which can talke an hour or more.

boxesOn Sunday November 9 we had a court staff member testify in our church on the huge impact these boxes have in calming the children, how they can hold on to their toy and how their concentration has improved. The court also uses the crayons and colouring books to help verify if the child understands the concepts of truth and lie which is essential to the testimony being accepted in court.

The juices and snacks are so important as the children often come hungry and tire quickly during trial.

I am so thankful we can hand out these boxes as a powerful tool to court staff who can connect and communicate easier with the children that way.

 

I am thankful to everybody who brought a teddy, snacks, crayons, stickers or money to make this possible.

All boxes contain a message saying: You are special!

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Our youth expressing themselves against abuse

Fighting the rape epidemic in South Africa
Our young dancers have started work on a dance drama Jan Venter and I developed a while ago, and I am positive this is going to be instrumental in raising awareness in young men and women that we’re all responsible to intervene and prevent abuse!
check my post about the topic here.
So thankful for our youth worker Jan Venter to give our town’s youth a shot at expressing themselves for a good cause!

 

Special Needs school: So many needs!

May_0005Today my husband, myself and a very good friend went and visited again the Tshilidzini Special School.

In a previous blogpost I described this school more detailed.

May_0007We had decided to go and visit specific classes at separate visits to bring specific aid to the different departments. There are 360 learners at the school and it is impossible to bring something for everyone at one visit.

Today we went to visit grade R-3.

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With the help of friends from our church and Hope for Limpopo and using my own ressources I had purchased different educational materials such as CD players, educational CDs ranging from sound effects such as weather and animal noises to nursery rhymes, stories and songs. I also made shape, number and letter sorting boxes that can be used by deaf and blind children alike since the letters are made from wooden shapes that must be matched to the appropriate shape fixed to the box.

Discussing education with one of the care takers.
Discussing education with one of the care takers.

May_0020 I had also been making several educational tools myself such as letters and numbers to feel and match.

winter clothes
winter clothes

We brought modelling clay, toy animals, puzzles, toys, clothes and blankets. The children enjoyed me singing a few songs with them and Roelien handed out some sweets for everybody.

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Trying to be of some inspiration to the carers of the school.

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The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you're happy and you know it" for them.
The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you’re happy and you know it” for them.
singing for the children
singing for the children

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the children singing along happily

 

sweets!
sweets!

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We went to the very drab and depressing dorm rooms to take measurements for the mattresses we are going to order for the children.

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In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?
In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?

I so hope we can find some sponsors to help renovate this boarding school for the visually, hearing and physically impaired children!

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That’s where the 4-5 year old children live and sleep.
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Cafeteria for 160 blind and visually impaired kids …

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Bringing Horse back riding to preschoolers

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Field trips are great, and field trips that come right to your preschool are a lot of fun too because it is safer!

Horses are magnificent animals. Horse riding and interaction with horses is a proven aid to education, concentration, honing fine and gross motor skills, muscle development and social skills.  Unfortunately many children do not have the opportunity of the benefit of getting to know these amazing creatures.

 

Therefore we are offering our children at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool  a very special chance every Monday morning.

We provide our students with a chance for horse interaction and an introduction to horse riding with experienced horse trainer Sarah Coronaios from the Rondebosch Riding School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah explaining the basics of horse grooming

Thank you from the courts

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Intermediary Salome Phaho and myself when I handed R 4000 worth of comfort over to the court. Yeah, sorry we had no professional camera with us, just cell phones. But that’s exactly it – helping is gritty and not about looking pretty right?

Thank you from the courts

Today I received this letter from the intermediary for child witnesses and victims of sexual crimes at the Magistrate Court in Sibasa about how our Comfort boxes now are helping even children in the Musina court:

Good Afternoon Mam,blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus who causeth us to triumph through Christ!

I am simply excited for the foundation that has been laid because for this vision to manifest like this means Victory!

My colleagues Nthabiseng Dzhivhani has just given out a 12-15yrs box yesterday @ Musina and I heard the girl couldn’t put it down.

This project is really working as I realized that most kids come dejected and rejected with little or no support from parents or relatives as if they chose to be victims.

But when they find LOVE in that little box is like their WORLD has suddenly changed as they understand that irrespective of what happened and how they feel and what others take them for, there’s still HOPE in life because someone out there loves them and care about them so much.

DSC02559Thank you once again Woman of God for your heart for souls.

Pass my regards to Pastor

Salome Phaho

So wonderful to hear about those boxes really making a difference in children’s lives.

Of course I cannot post details about the children involved, but share some photos of the people who work with the children and pictures of the court:

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The ladies working with the children who come to testify in court.
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the entrance to the court room
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the tiny space available for children to wait for their court hearing. Our boxes make it so much more comforting for them.

Make today with your child: Deliciously quick and easy home made chocolate eggs!

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So you have some time with the kids over this Easter weekend and would love to do some baking, but grandma already did the Easter egg cookies?

I have something fun for you. An edible dough to shape Easter eggs from and dip them in melted chocolate for a wonderful taste feast.
(Inspiration hit me when dipping my teaspoon in a bit of Nutella and some peanut butter and enjoying the taste together.)
If you love Reese’s peanutbutter cups, these special chocolate Easter eggs are perfect for you!
I made them yesterday with my preschool class, and everyone had a lot of fun.
The peanut butter – Nutella dough is easy to make:
To make that super elastic and delicious dough, put equal measures of peanut butter, Nutella and mini marshmallows into a plastic bowl. It renders a lot of dough, so work with 2 Tbs each in the beginning to see how far that gets you.
Microwave on high for no longer than 3 seconds. The marshmallows will crack if they are overcooked, which will give you lovely little, chewy candy pieces in the dough, but you will add and warm more marshmallows to get the softness into your dough. Take it out of the microwave, stir vigorously. Add the same amount of icing sugar as used per ingredient.
Microwave a few marshmallows for about 10 seconds if you like crispy-chewy candy pieces in your chocolate egg: immediately incorporate into the dough while still warm, they will break up and form delicious crispyness for your soft chocolate eggs.
Knead till all ingredients are incorporated beautifully and the dough is soft and supple. Add more icing sugar if needed. Process into any shape you like, coat with chocolate, yumm.
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Marshmallow candy inside the dough, yumm.
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Lovely soft peanut butter – Nutella dough. Not sticky at all, ideal dough to work with children.

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At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa

A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls. A typical carebox contains a friendly stuffed animal for girls, hotwheels (matchbox cars) for boys, a book, sticker activities, a snack, some sweets and a fruit juice. Many children come hungry to court and have to wait for hours until their hearing.
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Discussing with Magistrate Kellermann the need for a more comforting environment for underaged victims of sexual violence. A lot of cases can not go to trial because the children are not able to testify due to nervousness and stress.
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Handing out my first set of 40 comfort boxes containing R4000 worth of items such as fruit juices, snacks, a lovely stuffed toy, sticker activity books, toy cars, crayons etc.
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To get to the rural Magistrate courts one drives about an hour from Louis Trichardt in the North of Limpopo province. A truly underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural courts makes serving justice a challenge.

As many of my followers know, here in South Africa we deal with child abuse and child rape in a severity that is unbelievable.

Today I went to the Magistrate Court in Sibasa delivering 40 care boxes.

The boxes contain high quality toys, stickers, activity books, snacks and a high quality fruit juice. Many children have not had breakfast when they come to testify in court and often they wait for a long period of time.

I had been talking to a friend about the plight of the children in Limpopo, with child abuse rates soaring so high. She is a Magistrate judge and I had asked if there is anything we as a community could do to make testifying easier for victims of child abuse.  After Magistrate Kellerman got the permission by her head of department, I started making of these boxes to help the children bridge the uncomfortable time at court. The boxes will be used in rural courts such as Sibasa, Waterval and Musina.

This has also come up as a topic with the Guardian Angels, our local High Schools care group, who helped me with the collection of boxes while we informed them about their own responsibility to step in and step up when they see abuse happen.

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Teaching our local high School students the importance of getting involved when they see abuse happen instead of lookign the other way is another leg of our efforts to fight the rape epidemic in our province.

How an individual responds to unpleasant events in their life is crucial for their future.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

To assist a child and young woman or young man in overcoming the trauma of abuse is a call we all need to take up in this nation.

To end this, there are many different steps needed. We as a church are going into schools, training learners how to prevent abuse, how to interfere when you know a peer faces abuse, how to report abuse. We train parents. We try to get the community involved.

It is very important that abuse cases to go to court and the perpetrators get sentenced.

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Packing out in total 40 care boxes (more will come the next months as the project takes of) in front of the court staff.
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Magistrate Court in Sibasa- the family courtroom in a mobile trailer! The infrastructure around the court is basic, to say the least. The judges and lawyers work tirelessly under challenging conditions, even in protable offices. The main road leading to this court is a dirt road.

 

As I wrote in my post about courts, https://germanytoafrica.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/going-to-court/ this is a crucial part of the right against rape in South Africa.

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The court staff responsible for keeping the children safe during the trial. They have a very tiny office and it is not easy to keep children comfortable there. I hope the snacks, toys and books will be of some help.
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The children are testifying through a CCTV system so they do not have to face the criminals.
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The office where the children are waiting for the hearing or coming to for delivering their testimony via CCTV.

 

The stress is very high. A case can only be processed when the judge finds the child capable of making a statement. For that, the child must show an understanding of truth, understanding of consequences of lying. Since most children only understand tribal languages, the have to be able to communicate via a translator and intermediary.

The judge says that unfortunately often children stress so much, they tense up and refuse all communication. The case can not go to trial then.

The comfort boxes will be handed to the child by the intermediary. This will give them a positive start in their communication. The child will be more positive about the experience and also have juice and a snack. They often come to court without having had breakfast and without a lunch box. These comfort boxes cover all that.

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Magistrates Pieter and Hanlie Kellermann who brought my attention to the situation of the child witnesses in court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
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Intermediary Salome Phaho (left of me) shared with me her challenges in keeping the children busy. Some NGOs are coming and going with own project ideas, not always practical. they are looking for long-term commitment in a cooperative way. I prefer to first go in and assess the real needs at the base.

 

 

 Statistics from the South African Police regarding child abuse

 

 

 We later received a BIG thank you from the court staff.

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Wendy house for young victims at the back of the Sibasa court.
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We also visited a Wendy house in the back of the court property where we were greeted by a volunteer who had put up his office inside of it. The purpose of the Wendy house is for children to spend their waiting time in.  It seemed a bit unpractical as according to the court staff the young girls get separated from their mothers and during the warmer month it becomes a “hothouse” and can not be used. The toys inside are broken and dirty. The tiny room is filled with the NGO’s computer, coffee table and feels not very inviting.

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Visiting orphans in Uganda and equipping their carers

Yippeh, my husband just returned from a real intense trip to Uganda/South Sudan. He went to encourage Christian leaders, ministers and educators, conducted leadership seminars and visited a lot, a LOT of orphans ministering to the children as well.

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The best room in his hosts house – no electricity, just a gas stove. They shared their food with him, beans, a little rice, a bit of pineapple.
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So happy to have a guest from South Africa!
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Many people came for prayer
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Children from the orphanage presenting an item
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All the children are eating a day: one cup of liquid porridge and maybe a fruit for tea. Resources are scarce.
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Preparation of the porridge
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Traveling on the back of a pick up truck to the next destination.
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Sunday lunch. although Uganda has fertile soil, people lack the knowledge to generate wealth from farming. Much more training needs to happen for people to be able to look after themselves. Many rely on the bananas that grow everywhere for food!
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Leadership seminar
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Equipping pastors and educators who are the ones looking after the needy in their communities.

Here is what he saw: IMG-20140312-WA031 IMG-20140313-WA002 IMG-20140313-WA003 IMG-20140313-WA004 IMG-20140313-WA008  IMG-20140313-WA011  IMG-20140313-WA013 IMG-20140313-WA014 IMG-20140313-WA015 IMG-20140313-WA017 IMG-20140313-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA014 IMG-20140314-WA016 IMG-20140314-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA020 IMG-20140314-WA024 IMG-20140314-WA025 IMG-20140314-WA028 IMG-20140315-WA002 IMG-20140315-WA003 uganda (2) uganda (6) uganda (13)

Going to court

specialIn my work as a pastor and counselor at Emmanuel Church Louis Trichardt and headmistress of Emmanuel Kinderland preschool I have come to work with many people who themselves were survivors of abuse or came on behalf of a close friend or relative who had suffered through sexual abuse and rape.

As you are well aware of South Africa has a devastatingly high rate of rape, wikipedia talks about the highest rape rate in the world.

The SAPS statistics report that

There were 64,514 sexual offenses reported to the police in South Africa in 2012 alone of which over 45% percent where child rapes.

However, variable reports claim that only 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 rapes actually get reported

This means that the numbers could actually run up to 1,548,336 rapes every year

This means that someone is raped as often as every 4 minutes

Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”

Extrapolating from the statistics, 1 in 3 South African women will be raped in their lifetime.

2 out of 5 South African male learners say they have been raped according to a survey carried out in 1200 schools across the country (Published in Biomed Central’s International Journal For Equity in Health)

The greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under the age of seven (Rape Statistics South Africa & Worldwide 2011 www.rape.co.za)

50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18.

85% of them will be by perpetrators known to the child.

It is crucial that perpetrators will be identified and severely punished.

ippWhen predators get away with it, it will happen again and again. 40%percent of South African men have raped for the first time when they were under aged themselves. Why is it possible? Cases do not get to court and when they do, it can mean a potentially traumatizing experience to the child and the family.

Most rapists are serial rapists. Seeing them severly punished for their crime acts as a deterrent for other potential rapists while every one that “gets away” is per implication an encouragement in his social circles to others to keep doing the same.
There are so many facets where we need to be involved in to start preventing these crimes. We are running self defense classes, teach parents awareness as 85% of the crimes are committed by someone within the social circles of the child, but you as the justice department are playing a most crucial part in this.

We as church and community need to do our utmost to make the conditions for survivors testifying as bearable as possible.

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I am asking church members, parents of our preschool and community members to assist in putting together comfort boxes for children testifying in court, as these parcels can provide a minimum of comfort to a child in such a stressful situation.

The children who are brave enough to relive the crime to help that justice can be served each will receive a care box containing a fruit juice, a snack, a new soft toy, a mini book and some stickers to keep themselves busy, relieve some stress, feel cherished and be comforted from this unpleasant setting.

All items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality. The box is closed with a sticker (picture provided) that says you are special and indicates whether the box is for a boy or a girl.

Thanks for your interest, and may this result in fruitful cooperation in service to these youngest of victims.

The first boxes went to court this week with Magistrate Hanlie Kellerman. Please help me to help the children.

Care Packets for Children testifying in court

In a previous post I have talked about the high rate of child abuse and rape resulting in death in South Africa. Only an estimated 10 percent of all cases do go to court and the children as young as 3 have to testify under horrible conditions against the perpetrators. To encourage the children and bless them while waiting, often for hours, in the drab corridors of rural courts, I put together these care boxes containing a fruit juice, a snack, a new soft toy, a mini book and some stickers to keep themselves busy for a moment and be comforted from this unpleasant setting.

A box costs me about 7 US dollars to make seeing that these items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality.

If you want to help me make more boxes, please donate to my paypal account. You can find it on the left hand side of my blog. Thanks.

If you are from around Limpopo you are welcome to provide us with new soft toys, fruit juices and snacks!

Thanks,

Christiane

 

Heavenly minded

I do not know about you, but sometimes I feel like the prophet Asaph:

Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Here in South Africa, I often drive by shockingly pompous places like this one which is a game auctioning facility where buck are sold at astronomical prices:

Antique furniture imported from Belgian castles decorates game breeders offices and the antelope lodge in amazing architecture. No problem at all, everyone do as they enjoy.

On the other hand I am faced daily with the lack of appropriate educational facilities and the most basic of provision for people. In South Africa, 10 % of all 0-4 year olds are malnourished, according to UNICEF 84 percent of South African children do not have any access to educational stimulation before they start grade 1.

Our magistrate courts have no facilities for the hundreds of victims of child rape they process every year, those poor children have to sit next to the perps in court.

Yesterday a boy drowned in a school toilet in a rural area that was basically just a long drop.

We labor hard and sometimes it hurts, to be nothing in the eyes of the great and mighty who so easily could make a tremendous difference.

Being measured by the size of your car and the interior deco of your home can wear down the most spirited fighter over time. So that’s why I share this bible verse with you, because I strongly believe that this world is not everything.

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The kindness you share here, the compassion and love, will carry over to the next world, where God will make up for all the unrighteous mocking. I believe Mother Theresa will be a royal princess there!

Currently I am in the process of collecting, buying and making educational material to be taken to the Tsilidzini Special School next week. We need Montessori materials to count, weigh, feel, etc which can be sent directly to the Emmanuel Church where I am working.

I am also trying to purchase 360 waterproof mattresses for the boarding school kids at the Special school as bed wetting seems a major problem.

As to the rape victims: the state of social services regarding under aged rape victims is saddening and really typical for Limpopo, where the triage of services is not working as effectively as in other provinces.

I am handing out the very informative Rape Response protocol posters by the Viva organization at own costs to be put up at public places as to inform women of what they can and should do in the unfortunate event of rape.

If you are interested in the report, pls send me your email address. I am also in the process of putting together these parcels for the young victims: Out of years of experience in a South African setting my friend at Viva suggests a soft toy, a chocolate bar, kiddies juice, a hoodie or cap to feel safe in and maybe something to colour in or sticker activity to have an outlet for nervousness.

NGOs are the ones doing all the little steps to help where the need is greatest. Do not give up your good work, everybody!

Find more information in the discussion below.

Collecting and making

Schools have opened again in South Africa and my little preschool is working hard to deliver excellent schooling to all children.

At the same time I am working hard on creating and purchasing sensory teaching aids for the blind and deaf children at the Tshilidzini Special school. I will be going in about 2 weeks time to help and assist the teachers. We also want to get a local African artist to paint a nice mural to brighten up the drab environment of the doormrooms.

I need to purchase paint, ornaments, fruit and veg for a better diet for the children, mattresses and some CD players. I have put together a collection of music CDs that are ideal to teach with.

The South African educational system lacks on every level. Education, public schooling, is expensive. The government is not putting the taxes into education (nor into roads, health care etc. It goes into villas and luxury cars). Teachers haven’t heard of pedagogics and are very little schooled in education theory, educational psychology, scientific background.

Sigh.

In Africa, you do never know where to start. Jump in and believe that every drop of sweat you put in has the power to drive away the darkness. Prayers are welcome.

Thanks a lot, fake interpreter! #MadibaMemorial making history.

As somebody who works in the education field in South Africa, I am tremendously impressed with what happened at the Madiba Memorial. A genius planned a fantastic stage act to expose some of our most pressing issues.

For those of you who do not know, millions across the globe were inspired and moved by speeches made at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

You can read about this inspiring event everywhere in the web. Maybe you were also amused at Obama’s selfie shoot,

and Michelle’s angry expression resulting in her even switching seats with the Potus during intermission since he seemed to get a little too comfy with the blonde he was seated next to.Great photo-story here.

But what the international community was really outraged about was this sign language interpreter who was not signing in South African or any other known sign language, but seemed to have stepped right off a star ship :

Or was it true Anti-American activism at work here, really really subtly?

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Watch him “translate” President Obama in his historic address to honour old president Nelson Mandela for his life’s work here:

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, say the Deaf Federation of South Africa. David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African, was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learned a word of sign language in his life.”

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

I beg to differ. I am saying:

Well done, Comrade!

You accomplished what many of us tried before but always failed: to raise awareness on an international stage of the outrageous South African habit to employ someone for any other reasons than qualification.

When it comes to former-cleaner-come-high-paid-municipal leader, nobody cares if a non-educated buddy of another functionary gets to decide that raw sewage can safely spill into drinking water supplies. And when thousands of Limpopo villagers have no access to running water because Julius Malema well received millions of Rand for a government tender but failed to complete the pipeline he had promised to build, this raises not even an eyebrow internationally.

Let us learn the lesson. Maybe talking about headmasters of special needs schools who receive outrageous pay but do not bother to learn about education should get an reaction?

Will the CIA hold the ANC responsible for allowing a mentally unstable, unqualified person such close access to the president of the United States? Are we ever going to be able to discuss qualifications in South Africa?

Blind children who sit in dark, empty rooms while the donated Braille typewriters stand unused in the shelves because the principal has no idea what to use them for (but he did bother to study the car marked before buying that high end SUV) can maybe draw attention to this problem.

tshilidszini 020Or a fully equipped computer room that does not get used because, as I am told in no uncertain terms: deaf children can not learn words. Just like that. When I am informing the teachers that you can download loads of visual vocabulary games for free online, they do not even look up from their whatsapp chats on their cell phones.

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These facilities built in the 1970s house 400 physically challenged, hearing or visually impaired and albino children who do not get sufficient stimulation or adequate education. And nobody seems to care.

Applaud this comrade who was bold enough to show how the cadre does not bother a bit about educating the special needs people of South Africa!

Now the national “ministry of explaining things away” claims this poor person is schizophrenic http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Fake-interpreter-says-he-is-Schizophrenic-20131212

Well, whatever episode you are suffering on the mental spectrum, you are normally much more likely to regress back to old habits rather than making up non-intelligible signs. For him to sign: mama makes great stew, or at least repeatedly use the SA sign for Mandela, would have been more likely. Which means this interpreter probably never knew how to sign in the first place.

Singing together with the parents of my preschool’s first ever Christmas Concert.

Living in South Africa can be frustrating, to say the least. I learned: involve some topic that matters internationally, like offending the international deaf community, and you might draw some bit of attention to major South African problems. Will things change? Not through international outrage.

At always, it will be the tedious works of love by dedicated individuals that will continue making a difference.

Here is a great blog summarizing the correct steps that should have been taken in appointing an interpreter for such an historic event:

“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?

“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”

PS. It gets even more bizarre. In a weird turn of events the South African Government now admits their interpreter who was entrusted with the task of translating Barack Obama, president of the USA, does not really understand English.
“For you to be able to interpret you must understand the language that’s being spoken at the podium.  He is Xhosa speaking as his first language, the English was a bit too much for him. So yes he could not translate from English to sign language,” says Bogopane-Zulu.

South Africa, please wake up. Now even the African American (black) president of the USA fell victim to BEE.

If you can do with a little chuckle, check out what the “fake interpreter” really said: