Johan’s Diary – July 18, 2016

Today Sophie and I had the privilege of following our friend Glenda that we’re staying with to “Ikhaya Lo Thanda” which means “Home of Love”. A group called 1000 Hills Community Helpers is comprised of volunteers who take the time to give back to their community. We got to meet Dawn Leppan who saw the political struggle and devastation of families in her local community and started the project in 1989. The project started out as a community-feeding program that was held under trees in the Inchanga area. As the program grew it then was held out of the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. With more needs coming from the community members surrounding the spread of HIV/AIDS, a basic health clinic was set up in 1990. We got to have a short meeting with Dawn who told us about all of the wonderful work that goes on here.

We learned that Ikhaya Lo Thanda is a community care center that was created in 2008. It has a health and wellness clinic, children’s care center, early education and development facility. Their hope is to design a place where they can provide orphaned and vulnerable children with proper food and clothing. Not only do they provide food for underprivileged children, they feed up to 1000-3000 people a day in the Valley. All food comes from donations, or from money donations that are then used to purchase food. As well they have a school for children aged three months to six years old, a health clinic that has a doctor, five volunteer nurses, a social worker and a psychologist and much more! Each day of the week a different service is available. They also have an ambulance that was donated. On Monday evenings they provide a social network for the elderly so they can come and socialize, share stories, create handicrafts, get counseling, and create networks.

After our meeting we walked around with Glenda as she volunteers here two times a week. One day she works with children teaching them music and the other day she helps the doctor at the health clinic, as she is a nurse. She told us that most are volunteers. Many people have day jobs, but volunteer their spare time to work in the kitchen, or help with other community services. Just recently it was winter break for the children, meaning the children had a three-week holiday. The community-feeding program had many more mouths to feed in the morning than normal, with up to 700 children each morning. Somehow the kitchen managed to feed every child!

After meeting Dawn, I can understand why they managed during the three-week holiday, as she is the type of person that is good at getting people engaged and involved. As well, I was very impressed at the level of professionalism, cleanliness and organization within the kitchen. It was run in such an orderly fashion and hygiene is very valued within the whole program. Once we completed the tour, we got to hand out Lööf Foundation teddy bears, books donated by Partex UK, donated toys by Vilda Mårtensson and bubbles with Glenda to children aged four to five years. The children were so happy to receive our gifts, you could tell by the big smiles on their faces!

Today is Nelson Mandela Day, which is celebrated to honor the late Nelson Mandela who was the first Democratically elected president of a Free South Africa and fought for social justice for 67 years. They held a small get together in commemoration with speakers, music, little shows and an African dance. It was very cute to see many of the kids start to get up and dance as soon as the music played, it was as if they couldn’t sit still and just had to dance!

It was really great to see such a well run and organized project that has expanded widely to offer so many diverse needs to the local people. I was very impressed by Dawn’s ongoing work and was happy that we could give some joy to the children by handing out teddy bears, toys and books! We headed to a business meeting in Durban later in the afternoon. Then we had dinner at Glenda and Neil’s house together with the founder of Haley family business, Barry and Pat Haley, Martin Erasmus with his wife Meryl, as Glenda is also a daughter of Barry and Pat Haley. Thank you for today!

/ Johan Magnusson

Lööf Foundation representative

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