Someway, somehow, the Swop Shop opened on April 29th, 2019, my last full day in South Africa. God’s hand so clearly orchestrated all of it and wow, what a privilege it was to see everything come together.
The first miracle was Rose. She volunteers with Thandanani’s day care and after school program. Thabo, the founder of Thandanani, and I approached her with the swop shop idea and immediately, she offered to take on the project. I was and still am awestruck! This was the biggest hurdle in my mind. Knowing I would leave the country soon, finding someone equally invested in the project seemed daunting. But by the grand opening, Rose was telling me what to do. She runs a tight ship and I am so excited to see where she takes the project.
The second miracle was raising over $700 in just 5 days! Thanks to generous supporters, the Swop Shop was able to open. I am so humbled by the support people have offered, having never been to Mamelodi, and some of them, never even meeting me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. This is an incredible start, and will give Rose and Thandanani time to develop partners that can supply more school supplies. The children were over the moon to earn just a pencil or pen; I can tell that this is only the beginning.
The third miracle was securing a recycle company to partner with. I felt a tug on my heart to buy more airtime and instead of googling like I usually do, I started calling. Before I knew it, I had a meeting with Econamic, a recycle company based in Pretoria West that collects everything from cardboard, to paper, to plastic. And they pick up on request! This was a huge hurdle because the Swop Shop cannot produce massive quantities of recycle material to make it worth their while and many companies in the Pretoria area only collect one type of recycle material. We set up a meeting, registered, and soon enough, the Swop Shop will generate a small income to fund more environmental education programs. The recycle company creates a closed loop system, which is so key to the sustainability of the project!
Beyond the larger hurdles though, a lot of sweet little things fell into place, too. The narratives art by special needs adults in Mamelodi was featured in the Swop Shop. It seemed fitting to display beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) in the very place that I hope will bring healing to the land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Many people in South Africa warned me that the government would be hard to work with, but honestly I had nothing but good experiences. In fact, the government officials I worked with offered me a lot of encouragement! This includes Dinah with the City of Tshwane, who came by to give a lesson to the kids about recycling. I am so grateful that Dinah came through. She spoke to the children in their mother tongue and explained concepts in ways that kids can understand, through the use of props!
Overall, the Swop Shop opening is a testament to the goodness, faithfulness, and power of the Lord. By no merit of my own did this project come together. In fact, I probably got in the way. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13).”