On the fifth day of program, I witnessed before my very eyes the Lords hand at work. When I helped to craft the Mamelodi Initiative (MI) Community Engagement curriculum, I had a vision. In my perfect world, students would work or projects related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and engage the community to reach these goals. I had no idea how this would take shape, so when my South African co-teachers suggested we take the kids on a field trip to the Mamelodi Old Age Home just down the street, I figured I had to settle for what was doable.
But actually, we couldn’t have taken the kids to a better place.
Leading up to the field trip, I introduced the students to the concept of sustainability and gave basic outlines to SDGs. Groups split into five main goals: zero hunger, life on land, good health and well being, clean water and sanitation, and quality education. I hoped that first, The Old Age Home would get back to me and second, that there would be relevant jobs for the kids to do. Sure enough…
For zero hunger, students broke off to cut up fruit and clean the kitchen for the Old Age Home. And get this, no fingers were chopped off!
For life on land, a group went out to collect trash around the property. Though one of the kids, Patrick, complained about this job he confessed later, smiling, that he enjoyed the field trip. Plus, he showed up to program the next day!
For good health and well-being, the students gave residents haircuts and cut their nails. I was so impressed by how the co-teachers and students jumped right in, put on masks and gloves, and got to work. Just look at how cute these 10thgrade barbers are!
For clean water and sanitation, a group cleaned some of the common spaces at the home. Though not so glamorous, students and co-teachers worked hard and left the home with spotless windows and floors.
For quality education, a few students and I went around to residents and offered to read to them. The only book I had on hand was my Bible, which I let my students borrow. Watching these kids spend time with the elderly melted my heart. Students got to absorb wisdom from a previous generation and the residents were kept company, listened to, and hopefully encouraged.
I spent time with two ladies, Edna and Mita. Since I had given away my Bible, I whipped out my Bible app and what happened next brought the whole event, coordinating, months of thinking and planning, everything, into a moment of clarity. I started to read Philippians 1 and Mita, who is missing most of her teeth started to repeat every couple of words I read. I slowed down. We got into a pattern of reading and repeating. And finally, we made it to Philippians 1: 6, “for he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Indeed, He completed this good work and I’m still in awe.
Over twenty permissions slips in, no one got hit by a car crossing the street, all children accounted for, and the South African co-teachers rose up to lead the kids into their SDG groups. Amazing. Praise God!