I am finally getting a few moments to sit and focus on my writing. The past four weeks have been intense, to say the least. If you did not get chance to read part 1 of this post please scroll down and have a read, its the post before this one!
What does the restoration of Shalom look like right now for me and my family? Well right now it looks alot like 150 DRC and Burundi refugees!!
A few months ago we had an uproar of xenophobic attacks around the Durban area. Foreign nationals from all over Africa were targeted by South Africans. Their homes burnt to the ground, their businesses looted and attacked, their bodies beaten and raped.
The Red Cross set up refugee camps and eventually most of the refugees were relocated back into their county of origin. Some were able to return to their SA communities with the aid of the SA government. After 4 months the camps closed one by one until there was only one left, its inhabitants from the DRC and Burundi. Unable to return to their home countries and not safe to go back in the Durban communities they had no where else to go. Eventually the government decided to close the camp and these families were kicked onto the street. They had no where to go, no way of supporting themselves and their families and so for that night they slept on the soccer field that we previously the refugee camp. The following morning the police turned up and arrested all of the adults and social welfare took the children to a government children’s home.
Insert us….. Andrew, Rae, Martin and Vashti… 4 people who decided that this is NOT acceptable. 4 people who are passionate about family and about the restoration of Shalom.
These people, who were now locked up in jail with actual criminals, had done nothing wrong. Nothing other than trying to protect their families and trying to fight for a better life, a life that they deserved.
I called my friend who is an advocate for human rights and a lawyer who fights for the rights of those who have no one to fight for them. She then made some calls and got a number of lawyer friends and mediators on board to help set these people free.
We had to wait the whole weekend with the refugees locked up, with criminals, not being fed, not knowing where their children were. It was an emotional weekend. On Monday morning Andrew and Rae went to the court with the lawyers and managed to talk them into dropping the ridiculous charges of “illegal camping” on the conditions that we provided somewhere for these people to live. So naturally Andrew and Rae said “YES” they can live with us!!!!!
So that night they came home with 150 new family members for us to love on and care for! We had no where for them to sleep, no mattresses, no food, nothing! And that’s how our journey to the restoration of Shalom started.
The journey has been relatively smooth considering that our village consists of ex child soldiers, victims of rape and abuse, PTSD sufferers and the physically sick. The journey is going to be a long one. Our guests have had a harrowing life so far and now that they are starting to feel safe and loved the healing can begin.
Our village consists of 22 families and a number of singles. All are legal and all have permission to work and study in this country but due to the xenophobia they have lost their jobs. Plumbers, mechanics, brick layers, an aviation engineer, mothers, fathers, students, pastors, grandparents, orphans. We have them all.
They are beautiful amazingly humble and gracious people. Full of love, and as the time goes by, joy.
We have a split down the middle of Christian and Muslim. Everyone living and working side by side in peace. As I pulled into the farm the other day they had a little church service going. Singing beautiful songs to heaven.
Part of the healing process and to enable us to know our people better we are letting them tell their stories. When we think of the word “refugees” we envision a group of people, starving and living in the middle of Africa in makeshift tents, we tend to forget that they are individuals each with their own stories and own experiences. As we spend time with our people, as we hear their stories, as we fall in love with them, we realize that the healing can only come directly from the throne room of Heaven! There is no way for me to bring healing to an ex child soldier. I don’t have it in me to counsel him to a place of healing, only our Father has the power. I feel so humbled that I get the opportunity to do life with our people. I am blessed daily by their love for me and my family. I would never have thought that I would be the one receiving the blessing and yet every day some how I am blessed.
We are aiming to start home school with the children next week, we have 64 kiddies that need to be schooled asap. And that’s not even including the teenagers!!! Its a daunting task but we are up for it!
This week we started sending some of our most traumatized for art therapy and we also have one receiving rape trauma counselling, we have more that need the counselling but sadly their English is not good enough and we can not find a French or Swahili speaking counsellor. Please pray that we find an answer for this problem asap as our women desperately need this help.
At this point we are running purely on donations from a number of generous donors. If you would like to join in helping us you can donate to PayPal account firstname.lastname@example.org
We do not know how long our people will be staying with us. We do not know what the answer for their situation will be. All we know is that He has called us to help in the restoration of Shalom in their lives. This is just the beginning. And it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Please continue to lift us up and to lift up our people. As time goes on I will be sharing the stories of some of our people. As I do so please lift them up and pray over their lives.
We love and appreciate you all.
Downs Family. xxx