travel bursary reports
We are writing just a few days after our return to the UK after nearly two years living in Durban, South Africa serving as volunteers at Umthombo Street Children Organisation. The trip has been life-changing for us, we have learnt so much about God, the world, social justice, ourselves and each other! We are incredibly grateful to God for His constant protection and provision throughout our time there, and so grateful to the Timios Trust for the funds given towards our travel to and from South Africa.
Our journey has been one of learning to walk by faith and not by sight, and it began with us booking the flights even before our funding from you was confirmed. Amazingly your cheque arrived just three days after we had booked the flights covering 75% of the cost. What is even more amazing is that on the same day another cheque came through the post from an anonymous donor who ʻfelt prompted by God to give towards our travelʼ. The two gifts added up to the exact cost of the flights. This miracle gave us confidence that God was with us, and is something we held onto throughout our time there. Thank you for being a big part of it!
Our first year in Durban was very tough. The organisation (Umthombo Street Children) was experiencing quite severe financial difficulties and the staff were highly demotivated. Around Easter 2012 though a new Director was appointed and we began, with him, to rebuild the organisation almost from scratch. Looking back it is clear to see why the Lord was calling us there at that time, as the organisation needed people at that time who were committed to its success and willing to serve. We were invited to form an interim management team and went through a process of offering voluntary redundancies to all staff as a strategy for resolving the financial constraints.
By the grace of God we managed to come through this difficult stage and we are now leaving a fully-functioning, motivated team leading Umthombo strategically forward to a brighter future. We were able to employ three new members of staff as managers, working together to create and implement a strategic planning document defining the organisationʼs mission, vision and values. We went through a process of team-building with the staff team which provided healing from the past and hope for the future. I believe this will lead to many years of fruitful ministry amongst street children in Durban.
Day-to-day we were busy with various operational responsibilities whilst this bigger picture of the strategic planning was happening. Sarah was responsible for leading the programmes at Umthombo - therapeutic interventions designed to engage street children and empower them towards re-integration to society. She also carried out a thorough Training Needs Assessment of the organisation, using her psychological training to assess the needs of the staff and begin to deliver some training sessions.
Danʼs role was more operational around the logistics of running the 24/7 drop in centre for street children. A lot of time was spent doing manual DIY tasks to repair things around the building, also helping the director with various presentations and reports for potential funders, local churches and international visitors. Dan also spent a fair amount of time serving at a local church, encouraging the Umthombo children to be involved, as well as helping to develop the worship team and youth ministry of the church.
We have mixed feelings as our time in Durban comes to an end. It was sad to say goodbye to so many great friends and a challenge that we have both really loved. But we have a clear sense that it was the right time to return; God called us there for a specific season and we feel satisfied that we have done all that He was asking of us. Back in the UK Dan is about to start a new job as Wandsworth Foodbank Manager at St Markʼs Church Battersea Rise and Sarah is preparing to be a mother to our first child, due in July!
Thank you again so much for your support of our adventure, we really are very grateful. Head over to the image gallery for pictures of Sarah and Dan
Read our reports from those we have supported through bursaries!