Mom's Mosiac

Mom's Mosiac

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Hello dear Friend!

I appreciate your hospitality and I am honoured to be a guest on your computer today.  Thank you for being willing to read my story.  I hope our relationship will be long and fruitful!

Well, my guess is that you have read ample sob-stories to fill an ocean with tears when it comes to this subject.  No doubt you have also studied enough statistics on poverty and HIV/AIDS to fill the annals of perpetuity.  So, I don’t want to waste your time with more sob-stories and statistics today.  Maybe another day; but not today.

Rather, I would like to tell you a happy tale.  The story about our TLC babies.  Granted, each one arrives here at TLC with a desperate story.  But because they are tiny and newborn, it is easy to leave that past at the door.  We don’t discard it (however skanty), because we respect each individual baby’s roots and background.  We realise that it remains an integral part of who he is.  We file it away safely for when he is of an age where he can assimilate and understand all that happened in his little life, pre-TLC.

Where did it all begin?

I established The Love of Christ Ministries (TLC) back in 1993, after spending a year or two volunteering in orphanages and witnessing for myself the heartbreaking experiences of those babies and small children.  One day I will give you an account of some of those stories.  We brought home two abandoned baby boys in April of that same year. 
Newborn Joshua in my arms.  1993
It was a difficult time, politically, to do something like this.  Our country was insecure and in turmoil.  It was one year before our New South Africa was born. 

We were not hailed as hero’s when we started this work.  In fact, we were severely criticized by just about everybody.  The Welfare Authorities; our Christian brothers and sisters; even our closest friends and some of our family members.  Ironically, these were all people from whom we had expected approval and support. We were shocked when it did not turn out that way.

The common thread of argument was that it would be politically incorrect to bring those little babies into our white home. Support was only offered to us if we were prepared to do our work in a separate place, removed from our family home.  The church we belonged to at the time offered to purchase a derelict building for us.

Newborn Reuel in my
daugher, Pippa's arms
But I am a mother.  First and foremost.  And every mother knows that babies need that care and nurturing of a mother’s unconditional love, 24 hours a day.  She knows that all children need a home; and that a home is more than just food and shelter. 

With a home, of course, comes a family.  A home and a loving family bring order into a child’s life.  They are essential because a child is not born knowing the difference between right and wrong.  He needs a place where he can begin to develop a moral sense.  The transmission of values and virtues is one of the most important reasons for a home.  Constant attention to those values is one of the important ties that bind a family together.

We would not be defeated.  Eventually, and after much turmoil, we had to wave our friends, some family members and even our church, goodbye and set out on our mission to save the little babies of our nation!

Our first two little boys were called Joshua and Reuel.   Joshua, as you might know, means "God Saves".  Reuel (pronounced Roo-well) means "God's Friend".  Two minute morsels of humanity; only three weeks old.  We found them in Baragwanath Hospital amongst 40 other tiny, abandoned babies. 

Tommy 1994

A little Albino boy, Itumeleng, AKA Tommy, followed a year later. He stole and melted all our hearts.  Then at two years of age those stolen hearts were melted down even further and poured out into buckets of tears when he tested HIV Positive.  That was our initiation, and first taste of the very bitter cross we were going to have to carry in this ministry.

Brendon Pre-Op

Brendon Post-Op
After Tommy came a little boy with a hare lip and a cleft palate and we called him Brendon.  It was a name his biological Mom had already picked out for him.  Our choice would have been Benedict. In fact, we had already been calling him Benedict for a while before we discovered that his mother had named him Brendon.

He was abandoned in Johannesburg Hospital at birth. 

Soon after Brendon followed Crispin, who was born to a 13 year old street child/prostitute.  She already had a one year old to cope with.  A second baby was too much for her.

Not long after Brendon and Crispin had joined our family, God put the ministry into full throttle and more and more babies started finding their way to TLC.  In 1998, our spacious, 4 bedroomed home in Mulbarton was bulging at the seams and no longer spacious enough with my 5 biological children and the 12 little ones that God had added to our family.

Crispin 1996
I was a 'Cradle Catholic' to begin with.  Now I was contemplating a return.  But I had sojourned in extreme Protestant pastures for 10 years.  Could I go home to the Catholics once more?  Would we be shunned or welcomed?  Through my experiences, I had come to fully realise that the Prosperity Message was severely flawed, to say the least.  Yet, I had learned to despise Mary.  I had been brainwashed into believing that the Pope was evil.  Only those who have walked this path can fully grasp how traumatic this situation is.   It was a serious dilemma. 

Here, I found myself without a church but with a ministry birthed in my love for Christ.  It was impossible to remain without a spiritual home in which to raise the little ones that God was daily adding to our family.  After much soul searching and prayer, memories flooded into my heart and convinced me that if there was one church that understood ministry to orphans and widows better than any other, then it had to be the Catholic Church.

Feeling worse than a prodigal child,  I sneaked into our local parish one day, and fell in love with the rather unorthodox priest celebrating Mass that Sunday evening.  Instantly, I knew in my heart that I was in the right place.  After many subsequent, clandestine visits my whole family joined and would you believe, it was a Charismatic Parish.  One of the very few in Johannesburg!.  That was a distinct aid to my re-introduction into my Catholic faith.

Fr. Barney (an Irishman) was that unorthodox priest. Yet he is, at the same time, 100% authentic and I personally believe he is a saint in the making.  He never takes credit for anything.  A very humble man.  Yet the investment he has made into TLC has brought us where we are today.  I believe with all my heart that without this champion, TLC would not exist.

Was it plain-sailing returning to the Catholic Church?  By no means!  For many years I was regarded as a "Rhema Plant" by my fellow parishioners.  That meant that they suspected I was an underground agent, sent to misdirect Catholics to that 'fastest growing church in the North of Johannesburg'.   Some of these people held key positions in the parish.  Their paranoia caused much heartache and many tears.  In the beginning even our Bishop would frequently refer to my "chequered past".  But in the end he became a fervent friend of TLC's and sadly, he has since died.

With the help of The Knights of da Gama, (a men's organisation and fundraising arm in the Catholic Church), we purchased a farm in Eikenhof, just outside the southern border of Johannesburg.  This farm had a huge house on it, with more than enough accommodation for everybody.  Or so we thought!  Since that time, we have been growing in leaps and bounds.  I have personally adopted 19 children.  My eldest daughter, Joanna, has adopted 4 and has one biological son. My next daughter, Pippa has adopted 6 little boys, with 4 in foster care.  So, there are plus minus 30 adopted children at TLC who belong to our family forever.

Here we have the whole legitimate family together on holiday
Then there are also several others who have ended up with us and for various reasons have permanently joined our family, though they are not adopted ... yet.

It was never our intention to become a huge orphanage.  My experiences with institutional orphanages demonstrated that with quantity, quality will inevitably diminish.  So our efforts became more focussed on streamlining the adoption process in order to place each individual baby with its own, loving family.  By God’s grace we have been incredibly successful in this venture.  To date, we have managed to place more than 800 babies into wonderful, strong and loving families where they can grow into all their God given potential.

Unfortunately the New South African Child Care Act started operating last year, but far from aiding adoptions (which was its intention), it is really hampering them.  The year of 2010 was a dismil year for adoptions.  There were several reasons for this, but we will go into those another time.  Suffice to say that delayed adoptions can only ever have negative repercussions on a baby's life.

Volunteer Motivational Weekend "Away"
We received registration from the Department of Social Services as a Baby Orphanage in 2003.  But the funding was a different story.  We usually have 46 small babies who are accommodated in a beautiful nursery complex adjoining our family home.  Baby care is done by a troupe of young volunteers who come from all over the world and provide long hours of laboursome work with these tiny ones.  Volunteers was the only option open to us, without sufficient funding from the government to employ staff.  Happily, it has really worked well for us.

"NEST"  Newborn baby Section
We have a beautiful little school complex on the farm consisting of a nursery school for 20 children, and several other rooms that used to be classrooms.  This was because the majority of our children were home-schooled until January, 2009.  Since then they have all been mainstreamed. 

We have recently converted these  classrooms into offices, to make more space for the accumulating toddlers due to the slowing down of adoptions. 

Five of our children were blessed to receive Private School scholarships and sponsorships in some of Johannesburg’s best schools, such as St. David’s Boys High in Inanda and St. Katharines School for Girls in Parktown.

Our eldest boys, Joshua, Reuel and Tommy turned 18 this year.  The others are all following close behind.  I feel so proud to be able to say that all the love we have lavished on these children is now bearing fruit.  They are all growing into wonderful, noble young men and women and I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to be called the mother of these amazing young people.  We are all waiting with baited breath to see what contribution they are going to make to our wonderful country.  Was it easy?  Certainly not!  The doors in our home bear sad testimony to the tyrants adolescents turn into.  But we recognise that it is a phase every human being has to endure.  And endure we did!  And overcome we did!

I prepared this document as an introduction, so that you may have an idea of how these children have been ... and are being, raised.  I understand that it is not your usual family setting, neither is it your ordinary African Orphanage.  But I believe with all my heart, that by God’s grace in these past 19 years, I have done my best to give them my utmost.

All the children you see in the above mosaic still live at TLC, although not all of them are babies anymore.  Some of them have grown somewhat ... but the baby pictures continue to stir my heart and are a delight to me.  That is why I preferred them to current ones.  If you become a consistent blog-reader/follower, you will be introduced to the big ones soon enough.

I would like to use this blog to simply tell short stories about my experiences of the past 19 years of ministry.  I believe that the information I share might be of interest to many people.  However, I also need to use this blog as a fundraising tool.  Many, many NGO (Non Government Organisations) in our country have already closed their doors.   Others are facing a critical and life-threatening financial situation.  Many have lost government grants they became accustomed to and simply collapsed when they were removed.  We have all shared the debilitating experience of fallout from the global financial crisis. 

In 2008 when the financial crisis first hit, we were afraid.  Very afraid.  We are amongst the most vulnerable people in the world.  We and our babies.  A baby cannot help himself.  He cannot even scratch his own itch.  We cannot "earn" our own keep in any conventional sense.  At first the crisis seemed to die down without any dramatic changes to our work.  Everyone became optimistic once more, that we could weather the storm.  

But the financial demise was and still is insidious and it is very real.  From the beginning of 2010, we began to see NGO's falter, fail and fall.  Since that time not a month goes by without us hearing of another important work that has had to close its doors.  We are fellow soldiers, and we feel for them.  It's tragic.

A Bundle of Babies!
Imagine sitting in our position.  In our over-crowded little life boat, wobbling precariously.  78 children to care for, 46 of them infants.  You have to watch brothers and sisters ~ or colleagues some would call them ~ crumbling financially all around you because they simply cannot survive in the present climate.  When the final fall comes, where do they find alternative places for their charges .... there are none.  We cannot assist because we simply do not have that extra capacity and have had a few hair-raising months ourselves.  The thought is ever present.  'There but by the grace of God, go I.' or  'Will it be our turn tomorrow?'

These poor affected children end up in over-crowded state orphanages which belong to an unsympathetic government that cares little about the poor.  I look at my 78 ... and I think:  "No! No!  NOT MINE!"  I vow ... we will stick together; we all eat porridge together, if necessary.  Living on a farm certainly helps!  I have always said that my babies will only leave if their situation is improved by their departure.  

I still have one last tool in my pocket.  God has not left me without hope.  He has provided me with a gift to use in this crisis.  It is this gift of writing.  The gift of sharing my heart with the world.  With you!

And so here we are, together.  You on that side of the world.  Me and my little tribe, on this.  Yet thanks to this miraculous technology we have found each other!  Would you like to be friends, with an (oldish) lady on a little farm in Africa with 78 children to take care of?  You could be more than a friend.  :-) You could be a partner in our work, for I have always maintained that this is not a 'one man show'!   All it would take is for you to push that little donate button and make a small donation.

I am not expecting anybody to make a huge sacrifice.  I just know in my heart that if everybody who reads this blog just makes a small offering these 78 children will be safe again. 

All because of you!

Or perhaps you would like to be a volunteer?

Do you ever feel like you lost your passion for your daily life?  Would you like to "give back" to society or make a valuable investment into the lives of little children?  We run a very successful volunteer programme.  We are always looking for caregivers for our babies, or teachers to help with the older children.  People who are safe drivers.  People who might be interested in helping with other work, such as maintenance work or vegetable gardening, etc.

We also run a "Granny and Grandad" programme for retired couples who still have enough  energy to offer love and service to little ones who respond so beautifully to love and care.  If you would be interested in that particular aspect I suggest you take a dip into the website of Lynn and Ron Heitritter who worked with us most successfully for four six month stints over four consecutive years.  Their website will give you a good flavour of TLC.

If you are interest in volunteering, please drop a line to and we will answer all your questions and send you all the information you require.

Dear friend, you have not heard the last of me.  If you will welcome me, I will be back! :-)

God's love to you,