Self-sacrifice. Humility. Gratitude. Strength. Character. Hope. These are some of the ingredients that make up the heroes of the orphan crisis in South Africa.
Gab’sile Khoza, founder and director of Siyagibisa in Tembisa township, holds court today. She expounds with great pride on the accomplishments of the children in her care. The thief that turned assistant. The shy, hesitant boy who emerges from life in a shack to become a confident and calm young man. Gab’sile Khoza tells us she wants to die empty.
We stop her. What does that mean, to die empty?
To die empty is to take all the wisdom, love, spirit, courage, hope and ability that is planted within us and to give it all away before we die. Gab’sile points to her womb and then fans her fingers out as if spreading seeds upon fertile ground. I want to die empty, she says again.
Tony Gloria, I believe, is living to die empty
With barely enough space in this tiny corner of a four room Soweto house to maneuver from door to closet, we were ushered into Tony Gloria’s little piece of heaven…her bedroom. Her heaven is a mattress on the floor with three pillows and three small stuffed dolls. That bed is shared and treasured by Tony, her daughter and her 15 year old granddaughter. They claim it as their treasure. They count themselves lucky, blessed, fortunate. That bed is all that is left of personal space for them. The other three rooms of that small Soweto house are all given over to the feeding, care and nurture of over 400 children who may not have parents, enough food to eat or much hope for their future. Tony Gloria is happy to plant her seeds of hope. She fans her fingers and lets fall the fertile seeds of her strength, character and hope. Tony Gloria is living to die empty.
Dying empty. A phrase of hope, a manner of living life, a goal, a mantra.
And though it may sound strange, I wish that all of us from Infinite Family might die empty. We thank you for fanning your fingers and letting your seeds of hope fall on fertile ground.
NOTE! This blog post was originally written during a October 2008 trip to SAfrica. I reposted because Infinite Family has exciting news! In October of this year, Infinite Family is opening a new site in South Africa! Specifically, we will be starting a partnership with Tony Gloria at Tsogang Sechaba. Since opening in 1999, Tony’s mission has grown from carrying meals in a wheelbarrow to children at the local school to today, where she feeds over 700 HIV/AIDS affected children 2 hot meals each day as well as providing them with psychological & educational support. Tony first heard about Infinite Family 2 years ago and has worked tirelessly to create a computer lab for the children of Soweto. In October, we will be putting the first children from Tsogang Sechaba in front of the computers. Needless to say, EVERYONE is very excited!
And so…now, more than ever…we need NEW MENTORS!!!
To meet the initial need at Tsogang Sechaba, we need 30 mentors to be trained by the end of October. We have training classes ready to go with plenty of room in each of them. Our first training starts on August 24th. The next training begins September 21st. We even have one starting October 19th! And don’t forget…trainings are all online!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?? We are asking each of you to consider becoming a mentor with Infinite Family. Or to tell someone who you think will be interested about Infinite Family's mission. Tell them about Tsogang Sechaba. Share this blog post with them. Everyone's participation is vitally important as we open this first Infinite Family site in Soweto.
Of course, we will continue to need more mentors as the site expands to include more and more eager children as Net Buddies. So, if this fall isn’t good…we’ve got classes year round!
Thank you for all you do…and thank you for spreading the word about Infinite Family!