One of my favorite places in the world...
Every time I pull up to the gated, brightly painted entrance of Nkosi's Haven, I am amazed at the cheerful visage it fronts to the rough and tumble streets of Berea. But then I ask myself, "Why should I be surprised? What I see on the outside reflects the insides of this special place."
You can't walk five steps without tripping over a curioius toddler or being enwrapped in the shy smile of young one. The warren of pathways that runs through the three structures that house over 75 children and mothers struggling with HIV/AIDS always yields another glowing face, another warm embrace.
The women and children of Nkosi's Haven are very blessed with this family atmosphere, the abundant food, the medical care and good schooling. They are cared for and they know it.
The stories beneath the surface trickle out in halting cadences.
Liba, the oldest of a family of refugee children, who somehow found her way at 14 across the border from Zimbabwe, all the way to Johannesburg.
Ayanda, who had cared for each of his parents as they grew sick and passed away, eventually left to care for his little brother in an abandoned building in Jo'burg.
Z. who was raped by her step-father and who has been HIV+ since age 12.
The stories of tragedy run barely beneath the surface of this bustling, noisy home.
Where is the place where these painful stories are shared? Where healing takes place?
Each Net Buddy stands eagerly outside the computer room, waiting for their little dose of someone special. The person who cares for them so much that they extend themselves across the globe to "be there" through the pangs and joys of growing up.
Liba signs on to our video conferencing platform 10 minutes early, decorating the white board with Mother's Day messages and pretty designs.
Koketso relunctantly leaves her Net Buddy, waving in front of the camera with tears in her eyes as their half hour video conference ends.
These relationships are steadfast and enduring. Meaningful and deep.
And as I came in the gate of Nkosi's Haven today, a dozen 10 year olds milled about outside the computer room...having waited for this day for more than a year. Today, I was coming to teach them how to use the computer, share with them the story of Infinite Family...and give them the gift of mentorship.
What a humbling thing, to be responsible for something that these children so eagerly desire.
What a humbling thing, to be the person these children so eagerly look forward to seeing each week. What a wondrous thing to be a mentor with Infinite Family!