This year is nearly half over and so far at Blessman International we are off to a good start. We surpassed our aggressive fund-raising goal for our gala, so we are well funded for this part of the year. So far, we have hosted 90 short-term missionaries, so we are well on our way to 130 short-term missionaries for 2019. We have completed 22 wells so far and just received funding for another 10 wells from Hy-Vee. Please be sure to thank your Hy-Vee grocery store when you shop there. We have completed 90 toilet stalls and have secured funding for an additional 30 stalls for this year, thanks to many generous donors. We are still working to get some additional government funding to double this number. That remains an elusive goal, but I have not given up on working with the South African government.
We are right in the middle of our “Teach a Child to Fish” grant with Rotary. We have completed the agronomy and field training for all 10 schools. We have also planted gardens at all of these schools. In August we will hold a training on our campus to train representatives from all 10 schools on agricultural business. The most difficult portion of this grant is complete, so we are looking at another large successful global Rotary grant.
Beth and I are taking our time getting back to South Africa by spending one week in Holland celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and one week in Germany attending this year’s Rotary International Convention.
We are busy now putting together a whole new type of service trip experience with the Blank Park Zoo and their patrons. This trip will feature two nights at Victoria Falls and three nights at Kruger National Park, as well as five nights on our campus, helping us feed some of our 20,000 vulnerable children and some conservation projects with lions, elephants, and rhinos. This trip will be around September 2020 and will be capped at 20 people. The zoo patrons will have the first option at joining this team, but if space is available it will be possible for others to join in this great experience. We are doing this trip in partnership with Allied Travel in Des Moines. Marketing material and cost will be available next month.
As we get back to South Africa in early June, I am looking forward to putting together another global grant with Rotary—this one to focus on teaching African young ladies to sew washable reusable feminine hygiene kits for distribution to impoverished African young ladies. The financial goal for this grant is to raise $200,000 USD to provide many jobs and 10,000 kits over the next two years. If you would like to be part of this great program, you can still join sewing groups all over the US and create these kits for us to take to Africa for distribution. To date we have distributed over 10,000 kits.
Please pray about joining us on one of our upcoming mission/service trips. We have four or five still coming up this year. Or simply donate financially to support the work we are doing in South Africa.
Please be praying for visas for Beth and me as our current ones expire in July.
Doc and Beth