Tuesday, November 25, 2014

25 November 2014

Laphuma Ikwezi means "the sun is rising" in Xhosa language

Rosey Tyam on left
 This is Rosey Tyam, pronounced “Chum”. How anyone, even an African, can get “Chum” out of Tyam, is beyond me but they consistently do. He is the Bishop of the Kwanobuhle 2nd Ward located about 40 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
We first met Bishop Tyam the first weekend we were in Port Elizabeth when we went out to the township areas to participate in a “Helping Hands” service project. The project was to clean up 3-4 acres of land he was in hopes would one day be the site for a new church building for his congregation. Since that time, we have interacted with him in a variety of activities and meetings and found him to be very cordial and concerned about the welfare of those under his stewardship.
It was in May of this year, 2014, that he approached us and asked that we hold a Self-Employment Workshop that he could attend and learn how to begin a business he was interested in. We held the workshop where he and another man who was interested in becoming his partner, attended. They were very excited about what they had learned and committed to move forward with their business idea. They wanted to begin a security academy in Kwanobuhle which would include security personnel training, security system installations, firearms training and martial arts. It was an ambitious objective and we offered all the encouragement we could and yet cautioned them to begin small and focus on being realistic. Information about where to go to register their business and which government agencies they should contact for financial and equipment assistance was shared with them. We were hopeful and yet not overly optimistic since we have seen so many begin the race but run out of steam before their objective was more than a shimmer in the distance. The key to start a business, here as elsewhere in the world, is commitment and perseverance, two virtues most people lack, especially here.
Months went by and each time we met Bishop Tyam, we asked how he was coming with his business plan. Each time, we received a big smile and assurance that he was still working on getting the business registered. Our optimism continued to wane as time went by with no firm development apparent. And then last week, he came up to us with a tremendous smile and asked if we could come to Kwanobuhle Monday for the opening of his academy. I was amazed and not sure I heard correctly but after probing, he indeed was inviting us to see his facilities as he opened the doors for the first time.
We were elated to say the least. It had happened. A dream had come to fruition. The world had suddenly expanded and became brighter for this man who had struggled for so long to provide for himself and his family. 

We had at our flat some miscellaneous office 
equipment such as printers, phone sets, tables, etc. that we asked if he could use. He was overwhelmed with the offer as the government bureaucracy was to inspect his facility and he was required to have many of the items we offered. So we loaded up what we had and arranged to meet him at his new establishment. What we saw was not quite what we anticipated. The opening of the doors was not a translation that equated to the beginning of business but rather a time that he was handed the keys to the facility that allowed him to begin his renovations – but he was happy and proud as were we for him. As we presented to him our meager offerings of equipment, you would have thought we had just delivered him a bucket of bullion. He and his partner’s eyes were all aglow but the real expression of gratitude came when we handed him a phone system – oh, how happy were they, smiling and rejoicing as they admired them.

 And then Angie presented them with their own leather briefcases so that they could look like true officials. I doubt that they have had such a joyous day for many years.
Both of them were bubbling over with excitement as they told us of those that had already contacted about attending their “Academy.” Plans were shared about the academy, the renovation of the facility, where each piece of equipment would be located, where the offices would be and on and on. Joy and excitement filled their souls.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

16 November 2014


Career Workshop in Kwanobuhle in Sept. 2013 where we first met Nandipa.She is front center in white dress.
Do you remember this name? We wrote about a lady whose name was Nandipa about 10 months ago. At that time we had just completed helping her get a PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) loan so that she could go to a nursing school. The struggle had been tense involving a number of people who had to approve the loan at a time of the year when it was the “holiday” season (which lasts 6 weeks) and hence no one could be reached. Repeated attempts yielded only more frustration as receptionist or phone recordings parroted, “The person you are trying to reach is unavailable until after the holidays”. However, by the time the holidays were over Nandipa had to be fully registered which included the paying her registration fees. If the enrollment was not completed on time, her next opportunity to enroll was the following year.
She waited until the last moment to solicit our help and only then due to frustration with the system. We quickly reached our frustration threshold with the local approval personnel and resorted to contacting anyone in the States who may be able to help or would have contact with others who could. It was only through the efforts of those individuals that we were successful in getting the task accomplished on time.
The opportunity she had struggled and waited for for so long had finally arrived and Nandipa happily began her education. However, it was not long before a new obstacle was thrown across her path for her to navigate. In order to conserve money, Nandipa’s cousin had given her the nurse’s uniform she had purchased when she went to the same school. But as seems was Nandipa’s fortune, the school decided to change uniform styles and therefore the old ones were out and the new ones were in and she was without the funds for the new one. Again, the tender mercy of the Lord came through for her. Another couple that left here when we came, left us with the assignment to collect a small debt that was owed them and asked us to use the money to help someone in need. We felt this was indeed someone in need and the money was used to pay for her new uniform.
Well, now her first year of training has been completed this month and you are able to see her proudly wearing her nursing uniform. Her tests have been taken and she is so happy to be able get a job and be “Self-Reliant”. However, at the last moment the haunt of adequate finances again raised up and her stressed voice was heard once more as Angie answered the phone.
The loan that Nandipa was able to get through PEF was enough to pay for part of her enrolment but did not cover her full tuition amount. However, the school allowed the students to pay the remainder in installments through the school year; the last payment being paid just prior to her final exam which was in the form of a practical and written exam, the practical about four weeks prior to the written. However, instead of waiting until the final written exam for the final payment, the school suddenly demanded the final tuition payment a month early. For those who are on a very tight budget already, this hurdle  is higher than they are able to clear. So again the phone rings and the incoming voice is one very stressed – Nandipa had nowhere to turn. Her township friends and family did not have money to loan her. Her father, who prior had vowed to assist her, suddenly could not be contacted or located. Without the last payment, she would not be able to take her practical exam and therefore, she would forfeited her years’ worth of training – it was all for naught.
What could be done? We are bound by oath not to give financial assistance; to do so would open the gates to unending requests and defeat the work we are sent here to do which is to help people to be self-reliant – to find ways to provide for themselves. Nandipa had fulfilled all she was required to do through the year; she has worked hard, sacrificed her time and very limited funds to make sure she had met the requirements of her loan and school. And now due to the school, without warning, changing their rules she is again caught without the adequate money to meet their demands. Her phone call to us was not to ask for financial support for she knew of our restrictions to help financially. Her call was one made out of frustration and searching – a search for an understanding ear, a “shoulder to lean on” in a very trying time. Our only response was – all it could be – that we would ponder and pray for some solution and get back to her. We did ponder and pray about her dilemma and then decided to make a call to her ecclesiastical leader to see if he had any suggestion. His immediate response was, “yes, we have to help her. I am at work. I want you to call this person and tell him to take care of it. Will you do that for me?” Yes of course we would.
The person could not be contacted. Repeatedly calls and messages were left but to no avail. The exam was scheduled for the next day and without the final payment, she could not take the exam. The decision was made and the money transfer was made. A phone call was made to Nandipa to tell her that we had found a solution and that she could take her test the following day. “But how did you do it”, she asked.  “We are not at liberty to tell you how it was done, but only to say you are receiving the money as a loan and the benefactor does not want to be known. We will tell you later how to repay the money.” She was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude.
The next day on the way to take her test, she called while on the bus to once more express her joy and gratitude. And again, on her way home after her tests, she called again while on the bus, to tell us that she felt she did well on her test. But mixed with all her joy she was also very sad and upset because a number of her classmates were sent home without being able to take their test because they did not have the money to make their last tuition payment.
Days later, after the results of the exam were made known, Nandipa called again to announce that she had successfully passed he exam. How excited she was. How grateful she was. Her gratitude was repeated a number of times. And then her next question was, “How do I repay the money?” There was no attempt to shun her responsibility to repay the “loan”, her concern now was to let the benefactor know that she would begin to make payments as soon as possible.
So once more we are happy to have been able to assist her in reaching her objective to be able to take care of herself and her family. Now, with her 1 year certificate in hand, she can earn enough money to provide for her needs and have enough left over that she can save towards getting the remainder of her education and not have to get any additional loans.