Read it here:
We’ve been blessed with several visiting teams in the last 2 months. Whether it is a specialized skill or building a relationship with a child or staff member, each visitor brings something valuable to PCC.
Twice a year we get a visit from a team at Shelley Beach Full Gospel Church in South Africa. In September they brought their varied skills and talents to us. We had special games (tug of war!) and treats for the kids. Some of the volunteers are medical professionals and also help care for the community with blood pressure, and blood sugar checks, as well as eye exams.
We also had quick visits from our Irish friends at One Day: Lesotho. They are busy building a facility to care for children in the northern part of Lesotho. And they were able to bring their mission teams for a stay at PCC to experience what they are hoping to create with their own project. We’re excited about the progress One Day is making and look forward to seeing how God uses their project to transform lives in Lesotho.
Another visitor was Emily’s friend Lineo (dee-NAY-oh), who is a missionary to youth in Maseru. She has a wealth of wisdom and experience in working with kids. Because she is a native of Lesotho, she is able to bring that wisdom to us in the context of the local culture and speak to our children and staff in their heart language.
We thank you all for your prayers regarding the challenges with local schools. We are happy to say that the teachers’ strike ended soon after our last newsletter and everyone returned to school. Please do continue praying for our children’s education. We would love to see the standards raised for both pupils and teachers.
We’re very proud of the Shepherd School initiative that Jill is leading. Four evenings each week, close to 20 shepherds seem to slip out of the shadows and enter the school room at PCC. They range from young boys to old men, some with a bit of schooling, others just learning their alphabet.
It was exceptionally moving to me (Emily) to listen to older men sing the alphabet song as they learned to recognize each letter. What a beautiful picture of living out the gospel of Jesus: demonstrating to the ‘least of these’ in our community that they are valuable, and doing so in a way that builds-up the local community.
This project is funded separately from Pulane Children’s Centre donations, so if you are interested in donating toward the Shepherd School, please contact us.
Winter Fundraiser Update
Day by day we see evidence of spring creeping across Lesotho. Each morning the blue mountains show a little more green and pink with the new grass and blooming fruit trees. The PCC gardens are getting tilled and planted with vegetables and the children have returned to school after the long winter break. As we celebrate the warmer season, we hang up our warmest winter clothes with gratitude for those who joined in our winter fundraising efforts. Thanks to the generous donations, prayers, and shares, 41 children had their winter wear sponsored! Of course we made sure that each and every child had warm clothing for the entirety of winter. We decided to try a new thing with the sponsorship method. It doesn’t seem to have brought in the same level of funds as previous efforts. However, what seems to have been a huge success is providing a way for folks all over the world to develop a deeper connection with individual children. We hope you enjoy recognizing your sponsored kids in pictures as the year continues!
Schooling since winter break has been a significant challenge for our kids and staff. All across Lesotho, public school teachers went on strike as school resumed. After 5 weeks, the strike continues. In some cases, the teachers have resumed teaching. But in some schools (including one of the primary schools that PCC children attend) the teachers are present on the property, yet refuse to teach. The PCC staff and ‘Me Jill are making plans to provide homeschooling for the children affected until the strike is settled. We are blessed to have some passionate champions for our children’s educations, like ‘Me Jill and Ntate Khosana.
In other news of education, ‘Me Jill is spearheading a Shepherd School under the banner of PCC’s parent charity All For Africa’s Children Today: Lesotho (AFACTL). The Shepherd School is now underway. In Basotho culture, it is common for young boys to work as shepherds as a means of providing for their families. This, however, prevents them from attending traditional school. The idea of the Shepherd School is to provide the shepherds with an opportunity to receive schooling in the evenings after their work is done. It’s an important service in our community and we tip our hats to Jill and her crew! (This project is funded separately from Pulane Children’s Centre operations.)
This year we received a grant from longtime ministry partners Team Hope in Ireland to renovate the two greenhouses on PCC property. Our staff completed the project over the winter and the greenhouses are now ready to start vegetable seeds. Often the tomatoes are started here and then transplanted in November. We look forward to seeing what Ntate Labone and the boys decided to grow this year!
Since our last update, we have taken 4 new children into care. One toddler, Caleb, and three sisters: Faith, Hope, and Joy. As always, the new children were welcomed with open arms and quickly adapted to the love and safety of their new home.
A winter’s day at Pulane Children’s Centre starts with the housemother and father waking-up well before sunrise to start heating pots of water, get fires going, and food cooking. The children then start making their way out of their beds, which they often share to stay warmer. The mornings are spent huddled around the fires. Finally, the long shadows from the trees and mountains around Pulane start receding as the sun breaks through and the day finally begins.
Winter in Lesotho is always a time when things slow down. The schools take a long vacation and some children spend time with relatives in their home villages, as the cold slows life down a notch.
The vocational school ends its year in June, and this year we had 2 children who graduated. We are always proud to see them work through the course and come out on the other side with skills that will serve them well on the road ahead.
We also had a staff member, Ntate Khosana, who graduated from his year long course in office administration. He worked so hard over the last year, spending most Saturdays traveling to Quthing (2 hours away) for class. We are so proud of his enthusiasm and commitment to learning. Well done Ntate!
The majority of our PCC children have always lived in the villages around PCC, or at the Centre. Not many of them get the chance to travel to see bigger towns or cities. When they do, it’s always a fun experience. In June, 2 children travelled to Maseru with our manager, Ntate Hlompho, to see a specialist doctor. They had a great time visiting the big city, seeing a shopping mall (riding the elevator was the best!) and eating at a family restaurant. We are very privileged to be able to get our children the care that they need. Many people in rural villages have to accept only what they have close to home.
The winter fundraiser has been running since early June. Our goal is to get every child sponsored with winter clothes. We always need new jackets and blankets, and this usually comes to about $60 per child. On our website, we have made it possible for individuals to support specific children. So far we have about 25 children supported, and would love help increasing that number all the way to 73. If you are not able to support one personally, please consider sending the info to friends who might be willing to help. Lastly, we have recently added a smaller donation of $10 for a bag of anthracite, which is the fuel used at PCC for heating. One bag of anthracite keeps our kids and staff warm for 2 days. If are able to help us in any way, all details can be found on our website.
As winter days wind down at the Centre, one of the best activities is to bring out the big speaker and spend the afternoon dancing and singing. Too early in the winter afternoons the sun sinks away, the fires start up again, and the cold evenings begin. A nice hot dinner certainly helps to warm everyone up, and not long after eating, the beds fill up with children wrapped snugly in blankets.
Thank you for helping us keep these children warm, well-fed and loved. If you ever want more info on PCC and what we do, feel free to get in touch with the links below.
In the midst of shouting voices and running feet, a tiny hand cautiously touches mine during a golden afternoon on the playground. I look down toward my hip and gentle brown eyes meet mine as an elfin voice whispers a question, “Swing?”
“Flower” arrived at PCC while our family was away in America. She is reserved and gentle, yet always playing with the other children from preschool. Flower came to us from a nearby village, where she was living with her grandfather, who became too sick to care for her. At the request of community leaders, our PCC managers looked into the situation and determined that Flower could come to live at PCC. With the security of hot meals, a warm bed, and caring adults, she is flourishing.
In fact, all areas of PCC are flourishing. After 4 months without us here as Directors, it is evident that our team of local managers excelled at running PCC.
They accepted new children into residence, and helped some of our 18-year olds transition out. They made wise decisions with the children’s education. Many of our teenage girls are now attending a boarding high school in the nearby town of Mt Moorosi. The staff provide tutoring for those that are struggling with their classes. And they submitted applications for other children who want to attend vocational school beginning in August. It’s a lot to keep tabs on, but the PCC Management team does it well!
A look around PCC also tells of good management. Healthy vegetable gardens stand ready to supplement meals with spinach, cabbage, and beetroot. A new garden at the front gate welcomes visitors and proclaims that we are proud of what God entrusts to us. Continued upkeep on existing facilities shows gratitude for what we’ve been given. The Wendy House has been re-plastered and re-painted inside in cheery yellow, blue, and green. It’s a little bit like being inside a rainbow!
So as I push Flower in the swing and listen to her squeals of delight, I am full of joy. She has a future here. Pulane Children’s Centre has an excellent future under the capable management of our local Basotho staff. We are flourishing.
Thanks to visitors!
Over the past several months, we had a few long-time PCC friends come to volunteer. Our maintenance guys are still catching their breath after assisting Ntate John and Tristan with upgrading and installing electricity to the buildings at the “top” section of PCC. Thank you for your skills and labor!
We’d like to thank two visitors from Portugal, ‘Me Hannah and ‘Me Marina for all of the time they spent loving on our kids and staff during their visit.
And last, but not least, our faithful friends from Port Shepstone! Thank you for serving our kids with special meals, and reaching out into our local communities with the love of Christ.
2018 marks the tenth anniversary of PCC being open. Officially, we will celebrate that in October. But this is Africa, so why don’t we just celebrate all year long?
After ten years, we are seeing signs of maturity in PCC. What struck me recently was to see some of the children who came to the Centre as young children in 2008, now enrolled to high school! This January marks a record for PCC, with 15 children going from primary to high school. As children get older and move to high school or vocational school, the number of kids on the property decreases. This presents an interesting change for us. We are finding that our focus can not just be 100% on what is happening at the Centre, but we need to think bigger, and wider, and make sure we are caring for the children who are PCC kids, but living elsewhere. We need to think how we can prepare these children to be God loving, responsible, Basotho adults.
At the end of 2017, the ‘Thuso’ fund was introduced. ‘Thuso’ means ‘help’ in Sesotho, and its just what we have called the eduction fund here at PCC. We are keeping funds aside, and raising funds, specifically to go towards the children’s education. Vocational school, university, and in some cases even high school is not free, yet we feel strongly that our children should be given the chance at whatever education path will suit them best. We had some great contributions to the Thuso fund so far and are grateful to have money set aside to provide opportunities for the older children.
From November through to the end of January, we ran the Christmas fundraiser, to raise money for school clothes, shoes and bags. Although our visibility this year was a lot less than last year due to some changes on Facebook, we still were able to get pretty close to our target. Thanks to everyone who contributed to that fund. The children were so happy to have new clothes and shoes.
In February we have some visitors from the UK and Portugal. Marina, Hannah, and John, who have all visited Pulane before, are at the Centre for about a month, helping out in various ways. John has plans to improve the electrical infrastructure at the Centre, and the ladies plan to spend lots of valuable time with the kids, doing art, extra lessons, and all the important stuff that children need after school.
As PCC enters its tenth year, we are excited to see how we can be more and more relevant, in reaching more children, providing better all around care, and having a home that children and staff are proud of. Thank you to everyone, over the years, who has built PCC into what it is today. We look forward to what the next ten years will bring!
December is a month of transition here at PCC.
Transition for kids
The school year is now over and the children are at PCC during the day. They are enjoying some down time after a full year of school, and even our older girls are home from boarding school in Mt Moorosi. Because they no longer have to keep their heads closely shaved for school, they are all growing their hair out and getting inventive shaving designs and patterns into their hair. Some of them look ridiculous, but it’s a simple way for them to express themselves. This year we have 15 children who finished primary school and are preparing to attend secondary school. ‘Me Esther has been working hard for months gathering all of the necessary documentation to submit applications for each of these children to receive a grant to pay secondary school fees. (Grades 1-7 are free in Lesotho, but for the final 5 years, we must pay tuition for the children to attend school) From our preschool group, Lucky 2 and George will be transitioning to Grade 1. Already they are beginning to act like older children and don’t often play with the other preschoolers on the playground.
Transition for staff
When we (the Strugnells) arrived at PCC 16 months ago, our goal was clear. We were to guide PCC through the transition to being managed day to day by our local Basotho staff. We are now at the point of ‘taking the training wheels off’ and having our Basotho Management Team (Ntate Moruti, ‘Me Esther, Ntate Khosana, and Ntate Labone) assume full leadership of PCC’s daily operations. They are all rising to the occasion and performing with excellence, as expected. Part of the transition to Basotho Management involves us stepping back from our normal roles. We no longer lead the morning staff meeting, and we are asking our managers to do the daily problem solving, planning, and budgeting. One transition that has been fun for us to watch as directors has been the shift in how the staff communicate with us. Previously, the staff would approach us with a problem and say, “What should we do?” Now our conversations sound more like this, “This is the situation. We met as a management team, discussed possible solutions, and implemented the best one. Just wanted to let you know.”
Transition for Strugnells
As our family prepares for our transition to Mission Aviation Fellowship, the season is bittersweet. We are excited for this new chapter and look forward to the new challenges and blessings of being based in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. We are also excited about the next three months when our family travels to the United States for training, support-raising, and family visits. And at the same time, we are sad to leave this season of life behind. Though we will continue as the directors of PCC, and will visit frequently, we are sad to leave behind our little hut in the mountains. Am I looking forward to having a flushing toilet and shower in my house? Absolutely. But I will miss the rustic simplicity of daily life here and always look back on it fondly.
Have a great Christmas,
Emily, Grant, Jane and the whole family at PCC
It’s hard to believe its November! As many people rush about to get things done, it seems like we are not immune to that out here in the mountains. As November sets-in, and Christmas creeps closer, we start to cast our vision to the new year, and all that we hope to accomplish with it.
November has become a planning month at PCC. We hold a staff workshop to allow each staff member to comment, give input and ideas, and help us figure out how we can improve PCC and ensure we are all doing the best job we can. It’s a time to set goals for the next year as well. These goals include projects that we hope to do, equipment and maintenance we need, and general improvements required to make sure PCC is going strong.
This list of goals and projects helps visiting teams and financial sponsors determine how they can best come alongside PCC. So keep a lookout for that information in the next month on our website.
After a fairly mild winter, we all got a big surprise to wake up to snow in early October! We had to get the wood stoves going again, and pull our jackets out of storage. Previous to the snow we also got lots of rain that, thankfully, filled up the rivers and provided much relief for the land.
We were so thankful to have ‘Me’ Joanie around in October. She volunteered to join us for a month as a counsellor to help train some of our staff, and spend some much needed one-on-one time with certain children. Her visit was very encouraging to everyone, and we would welcome her back anytime!
Caro, Tarryn and Morgan, friends from Bloemfontein and Kimberly, did a great job completing the Thaba Putsoa FKT this month. The run is a fundraising project to get money for a new jungle gym, and with visits like theirs, we are moving closer to our goal. We are grateful to their support crew who joined, and also raised money for the project!
We are planning on getting our usual Christmas fundraiser online soon. To some it might seem repetitive to have a fundraiser for shoes, uniforms and school fees again, but the reality is that as a Children’s Centre, having those things covered is such a huge help. Families with a few school-going children probably feel like they are always buying shoes and clothes for school, so imagine having 70 children who all need that! We are grateful to have supporters who understand this and who always join us in these campaigns.
If you missed out on last month’s news, check out the ‘News’ section of our website to see news on what our family will be up to in 2018. And for those who would like to subscribe to our family newsletter, please see the link below.
Lastly, we said goodbye to a good friend this month. Our dog Kimi, who was with me since 2007 in Semonkong, passed away this month. It wasn’t unexpected, and she lived a fun and full life in these big mountains where she now rests.
Have a great month ahead,
Grant, Emily and Jane.
9 years ago, in October 2008, PCC opened its doors. Since then, children have come and gone, and some of the original children are still here. Most stories start on a low point: A child who has been abused needs a safe haven; a child without family needs to be supported; or one of many variations on those same themes. But most stories develop into something good and joyful: A child who was abused learns to laugh and play; a child without family finds their importance in a big, loving family.
Pulane Children’s Centre is not a perfect solution. The perfect solution to children in need is to have loving parents who are able to look after them. Anything else will fall short. Our aim has been, and continues to be, to give these children the best lives possible with what we have.
To do this, PCC needs to be in a state of continual development: improving on old ways, growing and changing in order to best meet the needs of the orphaned and vulnerable children in the surrounding community.
Over the past year, our focus has been on empowering the local staff at PCC. They are a special group, who are not just here because it’s a job, but because they want to make a difference in the lives of children. From the stableman and the builder, to the house mothers and fathers, we believe each person here is motivated by love.
It’s been a joy to watch the staff take on more and more responsibility. They are coming up with ideas for how PCC can improve what and how it is doing things. The local staff are taking initiative to propose changes in their individual areas of focus. Whether it is how we manage the gardens, or purchase food, they make sure that PCC is always examining itself and improving.
Emily, Jane and I moved to PCC last August, with the goal to ensure the staff had the tools, the procedures, and the accountability in place to run things without an outside director here every day. We knew at some stage school for Jane and my flying career would be things that would require us to live elsewhere.
With these factors, and the future of PCC in mind, our family has been in the application process to serve with Mission Aviation Fellowship at their Lesotho base. We are very excited to share that we have been accepted to MAF, and will be with the organization from January 2018. In Lesotho, MAF primarily fly medical staff and patients between the rural clinic airstrips in the high mountains and the hospital in Maseru. For those of you that have made the long trek to PCC, you will understand how difficult it can be to travel anywhere! Being able to connect people in remote villages with health care is an exciting mission for us. We are thrilled to become part of it.
Here is what that means for PCC, I will remain as the director of PCC, and with help from Emily, we will always be in touch with our management staff, and will visit PCC regularly to continue oversight. PCC will not be slowing down, or changing in any big ways. The way things work now will continue into the foreseeable future. Visitors and church teams are still always welcome. We will still be the contact people for PCC, and we will still be in charge of fundraising.
We are excited for the future of PCC, and encouraged by what our staff have been doing. We are also excited for our own future, as flying with MAF in Lesotho has been a dream of mine for many years.
We will continue this monthly newsletter as a means of sharing Pulane News. Our family will also be starting a family newsletter for anyone that wants to follow our journey with MAF. We also will be sharing our stories on a blog at www.strugnellcrew.com.
Thank you for you help, encouragement and support of PCC, its children and staff. Without you we couldn’t last a day.
Emily, Grant and Jane
I always seem to start writing these newsletters with a comment about the weather. While I realize what a cliché that is, rural life seems to be so much more connected to the seasons and the weather than modern urban life. As Emily and I took a stroll recently, she commented how amazing it is to see just how many fruit trees there are in this area. We can see them easily right now because they are all blooming bright pinks and whites. It’s just incredible that even with no rain, these trees find a way to be beautiful and full of life. What strikes me is that our children display a similar resilience: despite their history, often lacking in love and care, they are still filled with light, joy and laughter.
In early August we had a great visit from Carol and Stephen from Team Hope in Ireland. Team Hope is involved in many practical ministries, and are well known for their Christmas Shoebox Appeal, of which PCC has often been a recipient. During their visit, we had a party for 50 of the local shepherd boys. These boys get very little in life, and so a party where we were able to give them Team Hope Shoeboxes and a warm meal, resulted in big smiles and lots of laughter. The most important aspect, which we hope they realized, is that they are important, and there are people who do care about them
We had a fun visit from 3 Peace Corps friends who have been working in Mozambique for the last 2 years. We had a great time drinking many coffees with them, and swapping notes about the ups and downs of rural life.
During the winter holidays, with the help of our Irish friends Rob, Patrice, Ericka, Stephen and Ben, we ran a camera club. The kids were taught how to do the basics on a few point and shoot cameras that we have, and were told to go out and capture pictures from 5 categories: Home, Nature, Happiness, Favorite Color and Portrait. What we got back was amazing. Some great shots, some lucky shots, and of course a fair amount of duds. We chose the best 5 from each category and put them up on Facebook, where the winner from each one was the picture with the most likes.
We then had fun showing the children the pictures, and handing out prizes to the winners!
Two of these limited edition pictures are available on our website for purchase, and all the profits will go to our PCC playground fund. (Unfortunately we cannot sell pictures with children as the subject matter, hence only two pictures can be sold).
The staff at PCC continue to grow and develop into good leaders. They are doing a great job not only in keeping PCC going, but they are always on the lookout for how we can improve. It’ encouraging to see them come up with good ideas, and put them into practice. We are excited about it because that’s exactly what we want for the future of PCC.
Thank you to everyone who supports PCC, in all the various ways. We certainly need it and rely on your partnership.
Have a great month ahead.
Emily, Grant and Jane.
If you have been to Pulane, one thing that you will know for sure is that regardless of where you are coming from, it's a complex and long journey to get here. People ask why we set up a children's centre so far away from everything. And they often ask that as they stumble out of the car, after crossing the river, wondering why they didn't arrive hours ago.
The answer is a long story, but let's just say this: You could throw a dart at a map of Lesotho and two things are almost certain, where the dart lands will be hard to reach, and it will be a place with children and people in need of help.
As a family, we tend to travel out of Pulane, into South Africa about once a month. We renew our 30 day visas at the border, stock up on our personal food, and we spend a few days shopping for all the things PCC needs that we can't get locally: medicine, certain hardware, new equipment, and so on. This last month I was able to do a bit of flying at a flight school in SA while Emily did the shopping. It's important for me to keep my flying skills up to scratch. On this trip we had the added benefit of meeting up with my parents. We always enjoy our time with them and appreciate the babysitting.
We had a 3-week visit from our Irish friends, Rob, Patrice, Penny and Ericka (and a week visit from Stephen and Ben) during the last month. They are from Liberty Church in Ireland, and have started up a project called One Day: Lesotho. They are in the process of taking steps to start a centre similar to PCC in the Butha Buthe district in northern Lesotho, about 7 hours away from here. They spent the month seeing how things work on a day to day basis, and will no doubt base some of their ideas and methods on how PCC and its staff run things. We are so excited to partner with them from a 'moral support' point of view, and give them any info and assistance we can to enable more projects like PCC to start up.
We also had a very successful Winter Fundraiser over the last few months. It's now closed, and we reached our target, allowing us to buy PCC branded jackets for our staff, and winter shoes for all the children. We are so thankful for the support and contributions to do this.
The coldness of a winter in the mountains seems to magnify the struggles that people face on a daily basis. Things all happen slower, and we see how the older people in the community are in a little more pain, the younger people tackle their daily jobs with a bit less enthusiasm, and everyone just starts to show that they are ready for warmer weather. It constantly reminds us how fortunate we are personally, but also that we are in the position, with your support, to make sure our children and staff are warm, well-fed and happy.
If you are feeling low and in need of a smile, head on over to our Facebook page, or Instagram, and find the video of our newest boy (5-years old), riding a swing for the first time. It's a sure way to crack a smile and feel warm inside!
Grant, Emily and Jane.
It seems that weather is something that brings people together. In Lesotho, when a particularly cold front hits, everyone takes heart in the fact that we are all facing it together. We experience this in the mornings when the staff greet us, and we all say 'Ho a bata kajeno,' meaning, 'It's cold today.' As much as it is stating the obvious, it gives us comfort to be in it together.
We have seen this in South Africa over the past few weeks, where a huge storm, along with fires, raged through the Western Cape, close to where we used to live. Thousands of peoples' homes burnt down, and many were affected by the storm in other ways. The good that comes out of it is seeing how people come together to help one another.
We experience that on a smaller scale as we live at PCC. When we need something for PCC, so many people are willing to help. We launched the winter fundraiser this month. Our aim is to provide each of our staff with a nice warm jacket. They do so much and work hard, and we thought a new jacket would be something they would really appreciate. Part two of the fundraiser is to get our children new shoes. Having warm feet in winter is pretty important! So many people have already helped, and we are grateful. If you would still like to, there are giving details outlined on www.pulanechildren.org. We are about 34% of the way to our goal.
It is also the time of year for harvesting the fields. It looks like such tiring work for so little return. As we watched so many of the local villagers working hard in the fields these last few weeks, it made us grateful for the sponsors who keep PCC food stocks healthy, and knowing we don't rely only on what we can harvest.
In the next few weeks, schools close for winter holidays. We are excited that two of our children will be graduating from the Bethel vocational school this month. Thabang has finished his building skills course, and Nthathisi has completed a catering course. It's a great joy to see them doing so well.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more regular updates, like on how well Vova's leg is healing, and how big baby Thabo is growing!
Speaking of big, Jane keeps growing and growing. She is doing well and our family, even living out here in the mountains, is not immune from Barney. She loves that purple dinosaur!
That's all for now,
Grant, Emily, and Jane.
Living in Lesotho, and being immersed in the rural culture, its easy to forget how different things are from the 'real world.' Once you are here at Pulane for more than a few weeks, its just seems normal for children to be running around all day long, playing and making noise, climbing trees and chopping wood. Through our eyes, its easy to forget how special this place is.
Having had many visitors through the month of April reminded us of how special this country, its people, and its children are. One thing that has also stood out to us is how much fresh energy visitors bring in with them. And the PCC children just eat it up!
April began with just one visitor, Caro from Pretoria. As a qualified and experienced veterinarian, she kept busy looking after our animals, and helping the local people understand how to better care for their own animals. She saved one of PCC's cats (Kevin, for those of you who have visited before!), taught our staff how to inject horses, vaccinated many dogs and cats, and did so many other useful jobs that I cant mention them all.
Three wonderful ladies from Ireland also visited for a couple weeks. As primary school teachers, they were in their element assisting our preschool, helping the children with after school extra lessons, and playing games with the kids. With the poor quality schooling here, the children really benefitted from this and we wish we could have full time teachers like Rachel, Lydia and Rita staying at Pulane (are your reading this girls?).
Two of our personal friends visited too. Byron and #Ashleigh (our millennial friend who only reads 'short reads' with hashtags). We had a fun Easter weekend with them, enjoying the outdoor life Lesotho has to offer. Climbing, hiking, and Byron even did the FKT in a very respectable 4:56.
Emilys dad and stepmom, Joel and Judy, came for a visit just after that. Their second time in Africa, and first time in Lesotho was packed full of fun days playing with Jane, learning about Lesotho life, and catching up with us having not seen us for over a year.
Marc and his team from Vantage point Church in Rustenberg, after months of planning, came through to PCC with a team of 12 people. They were so helpful. doing a combination of practical jobs, like plumbing and playground maintenance, as well as spending time with our teenage boys, doing team building and ministry. We loved having such a strong and energetic team, and hope they will plan trips more regularly.
So, as you can see, its been a busy month! What a joy to have so many people interested and investing time and money in the work here in Pulane. We really appreciate it, and its amazing to see how each person brings different skills, perspective, and energy and applies it to help others. I really believe this reflects God's calling on all of our lives, to do what we love, well, to the benefit of others.
May looks quieter, and colder, as winter starts to creep in. Time to light the fire and keep the coffee brewing.
Grant, Emily and Jane
Working at a charitable organization gives us a front row seat to see the generosity and kindness of others at work. This past month we have experienced many great examples of what it looks like to give, love and care for others.
We received wonderful donations in March, in different shapes and forms: from the Shelly Beach team led by Pastor Peter who gave of their time and skills, to Cassie in the UK who ran a half marathon to help us raise money for Epap and nutritional supplements.
We had a visit from Chris and Denise on behalf of the Geocaching community in Port Elizabeth and Wayne from the USA. As a community they created a fundraiser around Wayne finding as many geocaches as possible in a one month period. With the amount raised they donated a brand new trailer to PCC, and didn't stop there. Instead of just handing something over, they went to the effort to get it through customs, and registered in PCC's name. Those extra efforts from people really mean a lot.
We appreciate all donations. Sometimes they are things that don't go directly to the children, but are still necessary and help us keep things looking good. One such item was a brush cutter donated by Greg and the team from Riverside. It's such a valuable tool to keep PCC looking neat.
So, for all donations, large and small, those that help the Centre, and those that help the children directly, we are so grateful.
This month we were also so excited to see local Basotho people really caring and helping each other. After a few days away, we returned to find the staff had taken it upon themselves to completely remodel the store room, plastering, painting and putting-up ceilings. This is in addition to the great steps they are taking to continue a high level of care for each child.
Two of our HIV children started attending Baylor Clinic in Mohales Hoek. Both children suffer side effects from their anti-retroviral medicine and need expert advice from the Baylor doctors. The children are already experiencing improvement and able to return to school. Seeing a Masotho doctor, and other staff at Baylor so committed to their work was also inspiring.
Thabo, our smallest and newest arrival, is like a flower beginning to bloom. He is speaking, smiling, growing and looking healthy. We are excited when we see such direct results from a child who has only been here a couple of months. It's fun to see how his improvement motivates our staff, and reminds them they are doing a good job.
Sometimes it can feel like we are working towards results we will never see. But when we experience these few examples, children getting healthier as a result of better medical care, or Thabo getting stronger simply by getting good nutrition and attention, it reminds us that we are here for worthwhile purposes.
There's usually too much news to mention everything here. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more regular updates, and always check out the website for new projects and new information. One such project is the Thaba Putsoa FKT which is a fun, adventurous fundraiser we created to get hikers and runners out to experience the Maloti mountains. Check it out at www.pulanechildren.org/fkt.
Before signing off, we were so happy to celebrate our daughter Jane's second birthday at the end of March. We can't believe how big she is! As Jane would say, "Happy to you!"
Thanks for the support,
Emily, Grant and Jane.
Meet Thabo, the newest member of our Pulane Children’s Centre family.
Part of welcoming a child to PCC is giving him or her a Team Hope Shoebox, this one coming from County Wicklow. For several of our residents, including Thabo, their Team Hope box is the first gift of their lives.
Looking at him, there is little evidence that he is 2-years-old. Physically and developmentally he appears closer to 1-year-old. Thabo’s mother brought him to us a few weeks ago at the urging of community members who saw that she was not capable of caring for the child. The mother is mentally unwell and would often forget to feed the child, take him with her when she left the house, and administer medication for a chronic medical condition. We were happy to be able to offer help.
Mr. Thabo, as our local ladies call him, is adjusting to his new surroundings. He spends the mornings with our small group of preschoolers. For now, he just sits, hands in lap, observing with a melancholy gaze. He hasn’t had a chance to learn how to play with toys or other children until now, and he isn’t sure about it yet. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t interact. He doesn’t smile. (We aren’t sure he knows how). He simply observes.
We aren’t sure what to expect from Thabo as he grows—what effect two years of neglect will have on his physical, mental, and emotional development. But we do know what Thabo can expect from his new PCC family: unconditional love, consistent medical care, solid nutrition, and the doting care of 65 brothers and sisters.
It is interesting to note that the name Thabo means “joy”. Our prayer is that he grows into his name during his time with us. We pray that he learns to smile and laugh. And we pray that his life will be a testimony that our God brings a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3
Through the month of February we were lucky enough to have Emily's mom visiting Pulane. Later in the month her stepdad also joined us. It was great for us to show them what we do at PCC, and what day-to-day life is like. After a few days they adapted to no showers, occasional worms in the water, and other rural treats. They had a great time and were able to apply their unique gifts and talents to productive projects around PCC.
Showing them what we do here reminded me that it's a question we often get. What exactly do we do here? I thought I would share a few of the projects that we have been working on and how these benefit the long-term operation of PCC.
Financial oversight and bridging the gap between our sponsors and the staff at Pulane is something that takes up much of our 'admin' time.
One of the biggest responsibilities we have is to keep a good handle on the accounts. It is vital for those who donate money to know where it is going and that it is being well-managed. During the last month we upgraded our accounting system to Quickbooks. It is turning out to be an easier and more effective way to monitor expenses and donations. .
Another big project is developing a more structured reporting system as a way for our local staff to assess the status of PCC happenings and facilities. This is useful for us to see what they recognize as needs, and to give them a way address those.
By completing monthly reports, we are starting to get a better idea of what the main ongoing needs are and how we can plan for them.
In addition to this, we have started an iPad-based system of updating and checking each child's information. This system allows us to compile information like the general health and behavior of each child. We plan to do this quarterly in order to figure out trends. What is great about the system is that we can easily pick up which children need something extra, be it in terms of health care, schooling, psychological, or general behavior. These systems are all something we have set up so that the staff can keep them running for the long term.
We often get questions about the make up of the children here and I thought we would share some interesting stats about PCC (Right) that have come in with the first round of reporting.
I've excitedly been working on a little fundraising idea that I hope to roll-out before the end of March. I am planning a running route to the top of the highest peak in our area. The idea to set this up as an FKT (Fastest Known Time) route, and invite runners to come and give it a shot, for a suggested donation to PCC. I need to work on a few more aspects of it, and when ready all the info will be in the website for anyone interested in visiting and giving it a go!
This month a new child joined us. He has a mother from the village close by, but the chief and her neighbors asked her to bring the child to us. The mother is mentally unwell and she was not able to care for the child well. He is 2 years old but looks like he is half that. He is malnourished and will need to be well looked after to get him healthy and on the right track. We are so glad to help in cases like this.
Just like South Africa, we have received an abundance of rain, and the land is loving it!
Keep a lookout on our Instagram and Facebook pages for more news, fundraising requests and pictures. Thanks as always for your support,
Emily, Grant and Jane.
The year began quietly at PCC with over half the children spending some time at their home villages with relatives. Midway through the month, all that changed with excited children arriving home and getting ready for a new school year.
The school uniform shopping went well, as you may well note from the size of the receipt we got from the local PEP store. Each child was able to start the year with new shoes, a uniform and a bag.
The Pulane valley is green and bright after lots of rain, and the fruit trees on our property are providing some special treats for the children.
Vova, after his foot surgery last year, continues to walk a tough road to recovery. Two of his toes, as well as part of the outside of his foot were amputated, leaving a very large wound. This wound, due to its size and how deep it goes, is taking a long time to heal. We are grateful to Emily's mom, Deb, for taking lead on dressing changes, as well as communicating with wound specialists in the USA and getting the best advice we can. We are happy to report improvement, slowly but surely.
Sad news form a personal side of things, our wonderful dog Hannah passed away a week ago. Hannah was Emily's dog who started life with her back in the USA. After we got married Hannah followed and lived the last few years of her life in Africa. She especially had a great few months running free, chasing donkeys and rabbits in Lesotho. We will miss her daily, especially on our walks through the mountains where she would accompany us. She was a lovely, loyal dog and we were blessed to have her in our lives. It brings a tear to our eyes when Jane asks for her at night for a goodnight kiss.
A visitor who stopped in for a night at the end of last year has gone on to raise money for PCC in a very unique way. Wayne, from the USA, is a hard core geocacher (www.geocaching.com) and during January he set out on a power trail to find as many caches as he could. He raised support for each cache found and has pledged that money to PCC. We are so grateful for kind ideas like this that benefit the Centre, and are fun for the people involved. Thanks to Wayne and his gang of geocachers in Port Elizabeth and in the USA for the support.
In addition, we are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the Centre. Your donations, prayers and support go a long way in keeping things here running. Thank you so much.
Have a wonderful month,
Love Emily, Grant and Jane