Steffen Wiese (BftW), Beatrice Moyo (LUCSA) receive a tour from the garden manager, Thabo Motsokolo. Thabo works with the other manager, James, seven days a week to ensure that the produce is well taken care of.

Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) Office in Johannesburg had the pleasure of hosting Steffen Wiese from Bread for the World, based in Berlin, Germany. Steffen had a partner’s meeting with Rev. Dr. D. Tswaedi (Executive Director), Mrs V. Mzezewa (HIV and AIDS Desk Coordinator) and Mr. L. Xhakaza (Finance Officer) to familiarise himself with the work of LUCSA on HIV and AIDS and to discuss specific projects and related information for future cooperations. At the end of the meeting, Steffen had an exposure visit to observe two projects of two LUCSA member churches namely ELCSA-EC and ELCSA-NT.

The first stop was at “Diakonia AIDS Ministry” or DAM, a community intervention ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) Central Diocese located in Jabavu, Soweto. The Programme Director, Rev. SS Mugivhi, welcomed everyone and dove into how DAM is closely working with the needs of the community and how the support of partners and donors is vital to the health of their ministry.

“The need is there, and the funding is why we are walking, not crawling,” Rev. Mugivhi explained.

DAM recently had a fundraising event which brought children from the area to play games and enjoy a delicious lunch. Families could join and purchase a meal ticket as well. The fundraising event was a success for DAM and although their resources for fundraising are limited, DAM is working with its surrounding community to build up the four part ministry.

DAM has a very large after school program that runs Tuesday through Thursday, giving children a healthy meal including vegetables from their garden and from the soup kitchen. The volunteers help with the children’s’ homework and school projects, and often take them on educational field trips. There are also HIV and AIDS support groups that meet to help with the work in the garden and group members can receive support through their contributions to the DAM ministry. DAM also works to educate the after school children and support groups of PLHIV with general health information including HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. The last part of the ministry is their communications department that releases a quarterly newsletter, “Lobone.”

Rev. Mugivhi and the garden manager, Thabo Motsokolo, gave a brief tour of their produce and future plans for the garden. They have started a small compost, and are growing mainly vegetables such as beet root, lettuce, corn, chard, and spinach.

The next stop was St. Peters by the Lake in Park View, Johannesburg, to meet Stephanie Press who runs the “Special Foster Care Project.” The focus of the project is to give orphaned and vulnerable children a safe and stable home to live in while receiving education and proper treatment for their health needs. Currently the program serves seven households each with one Foster mother and four to five children. Each of the homes are divided by the children’s age groups, and the foster mothers are provided with training and support for their positions in each house. The purpose of having a house mother is to provide supervision as well as a strong role model who encourages the children to become responsible and so that there can be a feeling of stability and family.

Stephanie has been working with St. Peters for less than a year but already has hosted a successful fundraising event through a golf tournament.  She has plans to expand their fundraising events. She has a drive and vision for St. Peters that is going to help the program flourish.

Steffen will continue on his tour of South Africa to learn and monitor projects funded by Bread for the World and attend a Partner Consultation with various partners in South Africa. LUCSA was blessed and appreciates the visit from  their long standing partner, Bread for the World.