Happy Aprils Fools Day. We hear that it has been a long winter in Iowa. Beth and I are happy to be here to enjoy a beautiful spring with all of you. We just finished one of the best seasons that we have ever had in South Africa.
Our Mountain View Farm is looking beautiful and we got our agricultural teaching program, “Teach a Child to Fish”, up and running in partnership with Rotary International. Two out of ten schools have already received their training and we have helped them plant gardens in their own schools for the benefit of the children’s nutrition and also to teach them farming principles. This program will improve the lives of over 6000 children and their families. With this agricultural program and by adding a fourth food distribution hub we are increasing the number of children that we are helping feed to over 20,000 children each week. Thinking of that reminds me that we just sent all of our food reserves, about 200,000 meals of the Meals from the Heartland rice packets, to help the people suffering in Mozambique due to the cyclone there. Our children in South Africa definitely need our ongoing nutritional support but the need in Mozambique is even more severe. Please be praying for our neighbors in Mozambique.
So far this year we have had 4 teams with 56 short term missionaries serving with us. We continue to get positive feedback from all of the Americans who come and serve with us. They always especially enjoy interacting with our beautiful African children.
Our spiritual program with our pastors preaching at school assemblies has continued to grow. We now have 6 schools welcoming our pastors to preach in their school assemblies every week that school is in session. This gives us access to nearly 5000 young people. In summary the reach of our two churches grew from 350 people each week to over 5000 now.
Our water and sanitation projects are staying strong. Thanks to Hy-Vee for supporting our water projects and many individuals and churches for supporting our toilet projects.
The big new thing for us next year will be the expansion of our feminine hygiene program. We will be making these products available to impoverished young African women through a new Rotary global grant that we are busy now writing. We have a goal of raising $200,000 to fund sewing of these kits in Africa and providing skills and jobs for ladies sewing the kits.
Our annual spring gala will be the 25th of April; Beth and I look forward to seeing many of you there. If you have not done so yet, please go to our website and sign up now. We have several trips scheduled for the rest of this year and would love to have you also join one of these teams. We can promise you a positive, life changing experience.