Village Talk

Change of the Year 2020/21

Village Life in Times of Covid19

by Pastor Thomas Beneke

Village life in times of Covid19. It is a complicated story. Also at St Martins Village. And yet, as many of our certainties shake and cannot be relied upon, we have to concur with Jeremiah, himself no stranger to uncertainty and suffering: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22f.) We thank God for all of you and all those people He has placed on our path, so that a year that in many ways shook and rattled us, was also a year of growth and new beginnings.

Kindergarten: After the building work at the church by the congregation on a large classroom, veranda and playground also to be used by the St Martin’s Village Kindergarten was finished in February, the Kindergarten could start operating. The slow start with the children from SMV and a few from the congregation came to an abrupt end with the first hard lockdown in March. Since July operations resumed and by the end of the year the group of children had grown to 15, with a couple of new registrations for next year. They are cared for and taught by experienced teachers Irma Nel and Sheina stoop who are assisted by Xolisiwe Dube and the carers from SMV. We are grateful that two of the children from SMV after having been placed in long-term foster families in our area can continue to attend the Kindergarten , staying part of and growing in the Village.

Enterprises: The lockdown presented us with a need – people loosing their jobs on a massive scale – and opportunity – time – to ramp up the community enterprises, market garden, layer operation, piggery, compost and firewood production. Help also came in the person of a local businessman, who has invested substantial know-how, time, capital and determination in growing these enterprises in service of the community. Products are supplied to restaurants, community members who pick up from the farm and sold at local farmers markets. Five people are now employed in these operations. Two Farming God’s Way courses were also offered (one in February and one in October) where between 20 and 30 people at a time learned to use the gifts and resources God has given them to provide a livelihood to their families and communities.

Temporary Safe Care: The heart of the village remains care for up to six abandoned or vulnerable babies up to such a time where they can be placed in long-term foster/adoptive families or returned to their families of origin. This care is provided by Thekla Böhmer and three employed carers and a housekeeper. The lockdown provided for a relatively stable environment for those children who had been placed with Thekla, but also caused considerable administrative headaches. It saw the social work normally supposed to be done by the Department of Social Development come to a complete halt. It has only resumed partly (see also Dear Minister Zulu, all they want for Christmas is a fa... ( The last three years saw 24 newborns, 8 toddlers, 15 young children being cared for. To help us continues with this work please consider becoming a regular sponsor towards this project (see sponsorship )

It takes a village to raise a child – Thank You for being part of that village!

Why do we teach?

By Kindergarten Teacher Irma Nel

We often hear that teaching is a chosen calling. A calling that we at St Martin's Kindergarten strive to undertake.

Teaching is like an invitation to build relationships. All children need to feel that their world is a safe place, where people will care about them, where their needs for support, respect and friendship will be met.

Teaching is exhilarating. The unique atmosphere at St Martin's Kindergarten encourages one to partake with love and imagination. The importance of building strong and lasting relationships cannot be emphasized enough. To teach at St Martin's is both a joy and immensely entertaining. We do have structure during our school day, so that our little ones can get used to a daily routine, but our curriculum allows for learning through sensory play and exploration. Children think they are playing, but they are actually learning.

Children need to develop their gross motor and fine motor skills. Outdoor Play creates opportunities to explore, manipulate, experiment, push their limits, shout, sing, and do creative activities. Our little children learn about their environment and about the world by being actively involved. A very basic example would be to play in the sandpit. They discover that a stick can stand in the sand. They learn about Maths and Science. Our children measure sand, pour water, discover that ice melts quickly on a hot day and when food colouring is added to the melted ice, it changes colour and becomes a medium to use to paint a colourful picture.

Our precious Kindergarten children learn to push their own limits and discover how high they can climb or how high they can swing. We teach them about the weather. Outdoor Play is essential for children to release pent-up energy. We have noticed that playing outside enables children to exercise and enjoy the fresh air and to run, climb, swing, jump, roll, shout, make a mess and just have fun, without feeling restricted.

This year has been challenging and most rewarding! Challenges bring renewed commitment, introspection, enthusiasm and vigour. The setting where the Church, St Martin's Home and St Martin's Kindergarten is situated is absolutely idyllic. The farm animals, nourishing vegetation and the stunning view of the mountains contribute to improve the children's psychological and physical well-being. We are so grateful and fortunate that it was never really necessary to confine ourselves and the little children in our care to severe restrictions. We do however follow a strict covid protocol.

The best preparation for growing up is to have a full and enjoyable childhood.

Thank you for your continued support and love!

St Martin’s Village Enterprises

An introduction by Gerhard Burger

At St Martin's Village we primarily look after abandoned babies. We are busy setting up a small farm producing produce, farming with chickens and making compost. This are done to secure (from the sales of the above) the future of St Martin's Village. Now employing 6 full time staff members to make sure we plant and prepare the best vegetables to our community and businesses. Producing compost of the waste of local garden refuse services, not only create more jobs but also to use Gods creation to re-invest back into the soil making it good and better again. Offering 'Farming God's Way' training courses to uplift and assist the community to be able to produce for themselves to become self sustainable by teaching how to plant and sell excess produce. We invite the community to support us by buying from us and supporting a good cause. Watch the space as we have very excited plans for the future. Friends in Christ.

Sponsorship Opportunities

It takes a village to raise a child – become part of such a village by sponsoring a place at St Martin’s Village in Newcastle, South Africa. You will help us to provide temporary safe-care for abandoned and vulnerable babies and toddlers by doing some or all of the following:

Praying – Martin Luther taught that having children is one of the biggest acts of faith, because you have so much responsibility for someone while at the same time having so little control over them and their situation. Help us to care for these little gifts by committing them and their carers to God and reminding Him of His promises to them.

Remembering – The knowledge that they are not forgotten, but have people looking out for and remembering them will be special for these otherwise often abandoned and neglected children. As far as possible we will provide regular updates to the sponsors about the children at SMV, their milestones, joys and challenges. Where feasible, Birthday/Christmas presents/cards could also be sent. When the children leave SMV to be placed in foster/adoptive families or to be returned to their family of origin, they receive a “memory box” with these identity forming keepsakes accompanying them on their journey.

Donating – help us to cover the following costs per child:

The people – R 2667pm – Dependable, caring, engaging and passionate 24hour care is one of the most important gifts we can give these often-traumatized babies. We have employed three carers and one housekeeper to support the home mother (who works a part-time job as a night sister in the local hospital) in this mission. One carer works a dayshift, the other one a nightshift, while the third one is of.

The place – R 2034pm – A warm and welcoming home creates the space for the babies to flourish – such a space, in this case a beautiful 101 year old sand-stone farm house, comes with a few overhead costs - R 1167 Rent + R 500 electricity and water + R 42 Repairs and Maintenance + R 75 Accounting fees + R 25 Cleaning Materials + R 73 Insurance + R 5 Petrol + R 55 Bank Charges + R 25 Cleaning Materials

The care – R 167 Groceries + R 23 Medicine – The social grant the home mother gets for some of the children (many are undocumented on arrival) and donations in kind by local community members help to keep these costs to a minimum.

Enabling and Integrating – R 1400 pm tuition/stationary cost - Since the beginning of the year the SMV children can attend the adjacent St Martin’s Village Kindergarten together with children from the neighbourhood. The stimulation and individual attention they receive there is invaluable for their development.

Total Cost per place/child per month: R 6268/ € 304/ $ 358/ £ 275/ Aus$ 501

Contact Pastor Thomas at / +27813879152 for more information

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