Much of the food for these children will come from the U.S. from a partner ministry called Kids Against Hunger. One of our large supporting churches, the Lutheran Church of Hope, has an annual food packaging event where several million meals are packaged to be sent to third world countries to feed starving children. The name of this particular program is Meals from the Heartland. This September will be the second annual food packaging event. Several thousand volunteers gather at Hy-Vee Hall, Iowa’s largest convention center, and package meals for about 9 days. It is one of the larger volunteer feeding programs in the world and has been a great benefit to our ministry in helping feed children here in Southern Africa. We have requested about 900,000 meals from this program for this year. Obviously our 16 children will not need all of these meals but we have several feeding programs throughout Southern Africa.
In this village of Moletlane we hope to also establish a larger feeding program to feed around 200 children. However, our first priority will be to over the next couple of months will get well organized in caring for our first 16 orphans.
Last week I had a good meeting with the tribal chief of the area. He is very excited about us coming to village to help the children. He is writing us up a document to basically give us the keys to the village. He told me that if I would like I could come there and build our own home. I do believe that I will take him up on his generous offer and see if I can get some warehouse space to store some of our Kids Against Hunger food.
In addition to feeding and housing these children we want to be sure that they are well educated and learn good solid Christian values. The children will attend the local public school that is just a short walk from our housing project. In addition to their regular schooling they will all be studying the Bible and the Book of Hope. One Hope is another significant partner of our ministry. They distribute 50 million copies of a comic book sized readers digest version of the Bible for children. We also want to be sure that our children are trained in vocational skills so that when they grow up and leave our Children’s Village they will be prepared to earn a living on their own. We will be teaching them gardening skills, cooking skills, carpentry and painting. In addition I am looking for someone to donate about 10 computers so that we can set up computer learning stations for them.
The next phase for us will be to clone this children’s village in other villages. We may add another 5 homes to each project but right now this is a perfect size to start with.I would like to experiment with different building materials and next week I am going to visit a large game farm that is using a block-making machine that makes Lego type building blocks out of compressed earth. They add about 5% concrete and let them bake in the sun, resulting in an inexpensive durable building block. I am hoping that my friend Doug Sharp will put his creative hat on again and design block homes for our orphan children.
Now that we have our first 5 homes I plan to visit with the Limpopo department of housing and see if I can interest them in connecting with our ministry to build similar housing for the poor people of this province. It cost us about $6,000/home for these first 5 but with mass production I believe that we can cut the cost by 50%. The beauty of this project is that not only do the poor get a new home, but that these new communities are designed for aesthetics and safety. The current typical township homes in the poor communities are basically made of whatever they can find, one home stacked right up against the next one.
A team from Lutheran Church of Hope constructed our first 5 Abods. Prior to the team coming, Pastor Jan from the AFM church got permission from the tribal chief to build these homes and arranged for construction of concrete slabs as a foundation for the homes. We have formed a board of directors to help manage this project and find ways for this children’s village to be self-sustainable.
Our plan is for all short-term mission teams that come and work with our ministry in any capacity will come by and visit Moletlane Children’s Village. They can interact with the children, help teach them some new skills and assist Frieda in feeding them.
For more photos of this project and the team who helped construct the homes, please visit our website at BlessmanMinistries.org. We soon will have a DVD for you to view to help you to understand a bit better how our ministry is reaching out to help many of the children orphaned as a result of this terrible AIDS epidemic.