Village Talk
- Transfiguration of the Lord
Dear friends of St. Martin's Village, the last six months have seen dramatic changes at our village, but at it's heart remains: the growth of a vibrant and compassionate community which provides care for those in need and opportunities to serve to those who have been put in a position to do so. While we experienced painful losses (see the obituary below) we have also been blessed with new individuals stepping in to make sure that village life can continue and thrive. Above you see a snapshot of this life: from left to right Mandla Mtshali (responsible for chickens, vegetable garden, driving, sales & petty cash), Nelisiwe Nkosi (house keeper), Philisiwe Sibisi (carer), Thekla Böhmer (nurse, new temporary safe care mother), Maria Winckler (volunteer from Germany), Thulani Tshabalala (responsible for chickens, vegetable garden, chickens, building & maintenance) with two of the babies currently being provided with love and temporary safe-care by Thekla and the St Martin's Team supporting her (Since the photo was taken the family has grown to 6 children).
Through Tracy's passing and the very bureaucratic, slow and sometimes frustrating registration of Thekla we faced a lot of uncertainties - uncertainties Christ's disciples faced as his ministry took him to the Jerusalem and finally to the cross. His transfiguration (see Mt 17, Lk 9, Mk 9 and Raphael's depiction below), where they saw him clearly and in all his glory, provided them with an opportunity to refocus, regain clarity, hope and courage for their testing road ahead. We pray that God would grant us "transfiguration moments" as we embark on the road ahead, especially as the registration of St Martin's Village as a Cluster Foster Care Scheme picks up speed. We held back on the fund-raising front during the time where there were no babies at the village (except for the Oktoberfest and Christmas market - see below). This caused a significant dip in the cash-flow as many expenses - e.g. wages and rent - still had to be paid. We are therefore thankful for any support. It takes a village to raise a child. Thank You for becoming part of that village! 

Tracey Lee Koen - Celebrating a life lived for Christ in service to “the least among us.”

 It is with mixed feelings that we say goodbye to our beloved sister in Christ, and house mother at St Martin’s village. Mixed, because we are parted from her by her death, but overjoyed for her, because she now rests in Christ. Tracey Lee Koen sadly passed away on 24th of August 2018, after fighting diabetes for 34 years. Tracey joined us at St Martins at the end of January 2017, where she was the “Place of Safety Mother” for 6 abandoned and vulnerable babies, before they could be returned to their families of origin or place in adoptive or long-term foster care. So passionate was Tracey in caring for children, that she took a significant reduction in salary, in order to be able to serve the children, initially at Home Meah, and thereafter at St Martin’s Village. She was often heard expressing her deep love for each individual child at St Martins Village. These precious little treasures were cared for by Tracey, and the carers under her supervision, and the impact of this faithful woman of God, tirelessly working for the sake of the babies, was a powerful testimony to her calling as a servant of God. As we know, in Christ’s eyes, these are the most precious. Tracey adored her charges, and although her task was tiring, endless, and often frustrating, she always served with great love, passion and joy; To say that she was a great example to us at St Martin’s Village would be an understatement.

Facts and Figures:Start of Project: January 2017 / Official Opening: April 2017
Babies cared for: 11 newborns, 4 toddlers, 2 young children
Babies placed in adoptive families (after 3-6 months): 4
Returned to family of origin: 5
Young child passed to another place of safety: 2
Type of organisation: Non Profit Company (PBO Nr. 930058969)
Temporary Safe Care for Abandoned and Vulnerable babies is provided by Thekla Böhmer who is supported in this by the St Martin's Village team.
Current Capacity: 6 children from newborn up to the age of 6
Staff: Thekla Böhmer (home mother/nurse), Sheila Sibiya, Duduzile Xaba and Philisiwe Sibisi (carers) , Nelisiwe Nkosi (domestic), Spamandla Sabelo Mtshali and Thulani Tshablala (gardeners/handy men/animal husbandrers).
Official Volunteers: Rosmarie Böhmer (Coordinator), Juliane Schütte (Treasurer), Roby Pentz (Fundraising), Social Work (Gre Erasmus)
Board of Directors: Vaughan Southey (chairman), Lutz Böhmer, Pastor Thomas Beneke
Monthly Budget: Approx. R 35 000 (see financial statement )
Biggest Expenses: Rent (with the first right of purchase) and Wages
Community Enterprises (fund-raising, training and community building): broiler chicken project & community vegetable garden including pecan orchard
Medium term plans: finish renovation of cottage at the back of property to accommodate carers, volunteers and possibly interns.

Cottage Renovation
Behind the old farmhouse where Thekla stays with her charges used to be an old - at one time burned-down - shell of a cottage.
Thanks to donations of the local Rotarians and others we were able start the renovations and extensions so that our carers, volunteers and farmers can use it for accommodation.
... cottage renovation (continued). It is still very rustic and if anyone could help with fixing up the bathrooms, kitchens roof etc. we would certainly appreciate it!
Anna-Magdalena Schulz and Sarah Castenow are the ladies smiling at you from the picture above. They are from Leipzig in Germany and spent a few weeks as volunteers at St Martin's Village in December. Anna-Magdalena is a Medical Doctor and Sarah a Special needs Teacher. During that time the registration of Thekla to provide temporary safe care had only just come through and there were no babies at St Martin's Village yet (currently there are six babies in Thekla's care). That is why they helped out at Home Meah Child and Youth Care Centre instead. We are thankful for the assistance they could provide there as part of our good relationship with Home Meah. They both wrote a report about their experiences (in German) which can be accessed here: Report Sarah & Report Anna-Magdalena.  
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