Saturday, December 20, 2008

A hive of activity at Lamontville

Over the past few months the Lamontville Good News Centre (GNC) has been a hive of activity for both young and not so young alike! The Sunday school has a steady attendance of around 50 children, aged 2-12, and regular youth days, Kingdom Youth football sessions and reading classes have all ensured that the older youth are also well represented. The Good News Bible class and Sunday meetings are less well attended, but the commitment of those who do come is unquestionable!
The centre suffers from a lack of adult foot traffic coming through, as people are often only aware of its midweek function as a crèche. Weekly Saturday program activities, which offer the community key information on essential topics ranging from ‘how to manage credit’ to ‘dealing with HIV’, have begun to address this problem, making it a more inviting place for adults.

In October, we treated the footballers to an away match in Mariannhill, as part of the Kingdom Youth for Christ course. Some tempers were left a bit frayed, but the prospect of a possible return match in the New Year is eagerly anticipated! With the end of the year fast approaching, we wanted to reward the efforts and commitment of some of the other groups with a small treat or outing too.

The reading class, led by Christy Beyers and Hyacinth, took part in an inter-ecclesial concert followed by the classic treat of Happy meals at McDonald’s. The visit to Mitchell Park Zoo that followed was a clear highlight for many, as some had not seen so much as a rabbit before! On a subsequent evening they also had a chance to read aloud in front of their parents and each received a certificate and prize for their efforts throughout the year. The girls in this class deserve a special mention for the sheer scale of improvement in their reading, inclusiveness, friendliness and commitment to classes – even arriving early on occasion (unheard of in Africa!).

The crèche children and their parents turned out in force for the Lamontville GNC Christmas party (see separate blog...coming soon!) and we hope to see a good turn out from the Sunday school at a planned ‘popcorn and movies’ afternoon on 21st December.

Unfortunately, just over three weeks ago, there was a big fire in the community round the corner from the GNC. In total, 55 shacks were Whizz Kids United) and Rose (crèche teacher) immediately stepped in and opened up the GNC as a refuge centre for the neediest victims, where they would receive shelter and food. Local volunteers played a crucial role in cooking the large quantities of food donated by Christadelphians in and around Durban and the Red Cross. Further important donations of mattresses and clothing helped provide a little comfort to people who had lost everything.

Combined monthly youth days with Mariannhill have been a great success and the regular attendees were treated to a real spectacle, when Neville Blewett came and did his magic show. The fire victims all sat in and watched, which made for a packed house. A short talk comparing the miraculous healing of Paul with the magic of Neville ensured that everyone left with a Bible message.

Andrew (pictured on the left), a young guy who has been a regular at both Whizz Kids United and Kingdom Youth FC sessions and has also been coming on Sundays, is living proof that, in spite of the fire, ‘all things are working together for good’. He helped Marcus when he was needed, without being asked and translated the youth day talk into Zulu. We were so impressed that I went to see his mother and got permission for him to come with us on the recent youth study week in the Drakensberg mountains. He integrated very well with the Mariannhill youth and we even got a call from his mum saying how happy he was afterwards!

Thomas Ryder, UK

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