Friday, July 25, 2008

Likhaya Lemphilo Lensha – New Life Homes

Today I took a trip out to Likhaya Lemphilo Lensha – New Life Homes farm. It is about 30 km on a dirt road off of the highway to Nhlangano. This farm was started 5 years ago by Mary Jean and Peter Kopp. They purchased about 78 hectors (about 200 acres) of beautiful farm land and started a home for children 8 and under who have no where else to go. Most of the children come from a half-way house in Manzini by recommendation of social workers. Many have been severely abused; all are orphans without any family. A few of the children were abandoned babies and this farm is all they have known. Mary Jean and Peter started by hiring day laborers from the area and making bricks. From there they built their first house. From the day laborers they also found those people from the community who not only needed a job but who were trustworthy and leaders. Since 2003 they have built 4 homes. Each house has 8 children and a live in house mother who in each case is a widow with no where else to go and an Auntie who comes in to help out during the day. These houses, with the children and house mothers, have become family units in every sense of the way. There is a pre-school on site for the younger children and all of the school age children attend school.

In addition to the homes, they started the farm. They started by growing maize and vegetables to feed the children. They slowly expanded to a few chickens, pigs and cows. In addition to teaching family living skills and gardening/farming skills Peter has taught them financial and record keeping basics and financial planning. Each year the garden and the chicken population have grown so that now there is enough to not only sustain the families on the farm but to also sell to neighbors and stores in the community and in the major supermarket stores in Mbabane, Manzini and Ezulwini. Peter has now instituted a form of profit sharing between the house mothers and regular employees which has motivated them even more to work hard in the garden and the newly started seedling business. These house mothers and children who had no chance in life, no alternatives now live happy, healthy lives with the chance of a very good future but it did not come easy. It took a lot of prayer, effort, patience and education (learning and teaching) on the part of the Kopps. It also took a lot of determination on the part of the employees and house mothers to make this effort successful.

Once again it was a blessed day and one that was so overwhelming with all there was to take in and absorb. I am so amazed at the terrific work some of the people in Swaziland are doing, especially those who have the vision that in order to truly help the people of Swaziland we have to move out of the hand out role and into the development role and model for them a Christian, loving life style. God Bless Mary Jean and Peter Kopp and all of those involved in New Life Homes.

No comments: