Wow, it is November already. The weeks just seem to go faster and faster. In the month of October God blessed us with 130mm of rain. I have realized I am happiest when it is raining and my rain tank is filling up. It does mean I spend a lot of time getting wet, making sure the water is going into the tanks. All that is needed now is for me to connect up the pump and then we can pump water.
We installed more tanks in the month of October. We hope to catch enough water for the winter months. Currently all these tanks are half full. We have 23 five thousand litre tanks and 20 two thousand four hundred litre tanks. November, December and January are usually our big rainfall months. Installing all the tanks was not easy because our local hardware store does not supply all the parts I need. A lot of time is spent driving around to different towns visiting hardware stores. This term Michelle has had to go back to teaching at Khetani Christian school. The school is short of a teacher and she offered to help just for the term. In her first week at school five kids accepted Jesus Christ as there Lord and Saviour. I have been helping out at the school as sports coach. Every Wednesday I get to spend time with the boys from the senior class and Grade 5s.
Here we are playing against Mbaligewe Primary School. As you can see we don’t have those nice green lawns the schools in the city have. The school cut out the grass to make a pitch. With a very uneven surface it does bring some humour to the game of cricket. We have five schools that play cricket and Khetani is about 3rd strongest. The kids are all enjoying their last term of school. I think it is because they know the December Holidays are around the corner. The girls, Slindi, Rebecca and Sanele go to dance club every Wednesday and Netball on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They have had a couple of games and it has not gone so well. We are definitely the smallest school in the community. Other schools have 500 kids to make up various teams, we have all of 95 kids. I think the nice thing is everyone gets to take part. Every day after school our dining room table looks like a war zone. The kids come and do their homework at the dining room table. Sometime only finishing at 7pm. It does make the day long for Michelle but it is the best way she can keep an eye on the kids and how things are going. There is also a lot of talk around the table on how each child’s day went and who did what. When you have so many kids you don’t need a camera. We have been trying to teach the kids to stand up for each other and support each other at school. Sometimes they are very quick to accuse there brothers and sisters of doing wrong.
Debra having a bad hair day
Stephen helping Tulani sand the doors down
At Umndeni we have three full time staff and two who help teaching the kids at Jacobs Ladder.
Grace, Audrey, Philie
Grace and Audrey are house mothers. Grace is also responsible for the Laundry room and she is a great help when we need to go to the hospital to pick up medication for the kids. She has a lot of contacts at the Hospital. Grace has been with us from the day Umndeni started. Audrey has been with us for three years. She is also responsible for cleaning the main house. Audrey loves cooking, so the kids in her home have nice meals prepared for them. Pilile has been with us for two years. She works for Jacobs Ladder with Beatrice. She also helps relieve when Audrey has to take time off. Tulani has been with us from the very beginning. He helped build one of the children’s homes and when the work was finished we employed him to do the maintenance around the grounds. In Winter he does a lot of painting, repairs to buildings and in Summer he will spend most his time cutting grass. Beatrice is the headmistress for Jacobs ladder. She started working for us when we moved to Ingwavuma in 2005. Her and Michelle work very closely together. She is also the relief mother when Grace takes time off and the staff will come to her to discuss various issues they are having. Michelle and I include Beatrice in our planning for Jacobs Ladder and Umndeni. As you can see our staff have more than one function and they are a vital link at Umndeni. We are very blessed to have them. Grace has five kids in her home and Audrey has five kids to. Audrey also has a grade 12 student staying in her home till the exams are over. Philile stays with race and helps with the work in Graces home. In the main house we have five kids and a young man Nhlanhla. Tulani and Beatrice do not stay on the property. Tulani is our neighbor so he keeps an eye on the place when we are not here. He will also keep me informed about events in the community. The staff will always keep us informed with what is going on with the kids and the needs of the children. To try and manage Umndeni without them will be very hard. We do our best to look after them. The support we get goes towards proving a permanent employment for our staff. In providing them with employment we are uplifting them and the community.
This must be our fourth attempt at a veggie garden. The young man in the green top went on a course recently. He was shown how to make a vegetable garden. In the pic is Tulani, Lungesani and Luke looking on. I am adamant we are going to get this garden working for us. Due to the lack of water we battle to keep the garden going especially in the drier months. These guys have taken over. If we do a good job we will show our neighbors how they can have their own veggie garden.
Thanks for your continued prayers and support. May God Bless you and your family. Thanks, Neil, Michelle, kids and staff at Umndeni WaBantwana