Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oasis Haven

Yesterday, I arrived at the Peace Corps office to begin the process known as "early termination." Which basically means that I am terminating my Peace Corps contract prior to the expected "close of service" date in April of next year.


Because I have accepted a new volunteer position with an NGO in Johannesburg and will start with them full time on September 1st.

I will be working for Oasis Haven of Love Foundation—a NGO in Johannesburg working to meet the challenge of the orphan crisis in Africa by rethinking the orphanage system and the adoption system. I'm volunteering as their fundraising coordinator, a position that will hopefully move into a full-time salaried position.

As I’ve gotten to know Oasis Haven over the last few months and as we have prayed about me coming on board with them, I have grown evermore excited about the ways that Oasis Haven is trying to follow our Biblical mandate to care for the orphan. It is exciting to hear about how God has called them, shaped them and reshaped them.

As fundraising coordinator, I will be developing a fundraising model based on their just completed revisioning and strategic planning process. I’ll also be in charge of event planning and coordinating their American and South African fundraising efforts.

It’s a perfectly nerdy job for a perfect nerd.

But beyond being the perfect job for the perfect nerd, I fully believe that God has brought it all together, putting all the pieces in place and asked me to come and be a part of what He’s doing at Oasis Haven.

I sent an email to them a few months back when I saw the post on Things in Mmametlhake and with Peace Corps were not as stable as they are now, and I decided to put out a few feelers. I got an email back from them at the first of June about a month after things had stabilized.

Since then we have all been conversing and praying about what God was doing. I approached my supervisor and counterpart at the care centre in Mmametlhake about it, both essentially said, “Go, we don’t want to hold you back from where God is calling you.”

It’s very bittersweet to leave Mmametlhake, and we all cried on Tuesday as we said goodbye. Even though we are making plans for me to continue my involvement at the centre from afar, I have greatly enjoyed my time working with them and will miss them dearly. I will miss the easy, quiet pace of Mmametlhake, and I will miss all the good friends I have made here.

Please be praying as I make this transition.

Pray as I begin in Jo’burg that God would give me wisdom to understand fully the path that He has led Oasis Haven on and how to create a fundraising model that would honor the work He has done and is doing. Pray also for wisdom on how to continue my involvement with the centre and with Mmametlhake. Pray that I would quickly find community in Jo'burg, especially community with women, something I’m starved for at the moment.

In many ways it seems that the transition process has taken forever, and in other ways it feels that it has not been long enough at all. I'm excited and looking forward to this new leg of the journey. Thank you for your prayers and joining me on it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Only Skin Deep

Natai's 50th Bday (28) A few months ago, I had the privilege to participate in my host mother’s 50th birthday party—well it was at my house, so…

During the course of the day, I made a new friend in a ten-year-old boy and subsequently his mom. I was sitting chatting with his mom and he was chatting with one of my little cousins. He turned to ask me something calling me “lekgoa” (white person). Generally, when children refer to me as “lekgoa,” I reply, “Ga ke nna lekgoa. Ke nna Amanda.”—which loosely translates to, “My name is not white person. My name is Amanda.”

Usually that satisfies the child and they are content to call me Amanda from then on. But this little boy was not having it. He turned to my little cousin and said, “O lekgoa” (She’s a white person). His mom entered the conversation, saying in Setswana, “No, she’s not a white person, she’s Matswana” or that I was part of the Batswana tribe. Again, her son was not having it. To his eyes, and he was right, I was a lekgoa. No getting around it.

Natai's 50th Bday (10)The subject eventually dropped, but I could still see the wheels spinning in my little cousin’s head. Eventually she spoke up again. She asked the little boy if he knew Rachel, a little girl in our village who is albino. He said he did, and she responded, “Sissy Amanda is like that. She looks like a lekgoa, but really she’s Batswana.”

I was so proud of her at this moment. She knew that somehow I was a part of her, the same as her, she just needed a little time to work it out. I’m not Batswana, but at that moment I was really proud to be called Batswana.

South Africa is definitely still healing from the hurts of it’s past. There is still a long journey ahead, but if this is the future. If girls and boys like my little cousin are the future of South Africa—girls and boys willing to look past skin color at what is in the heart of another person—South Africa has a great future ahead of them.