Home provides a family
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….”
What began as a pleasure trip to South Africa turned into a mission trip for a Paris couple.
Paris Scentsy dealer Jeni Lueken and her husband, Ben, traveled in July to Ireland and South Africa. Lueken earned the trip as one of the top 100 Scentsy dealers in the U.S.
“When we take this kind of a trip, we always try to reach out to the community and area we are visiting to help,” she said. Lueken made that commitment before the couple left. Several Paris residents donated cash to support a visit to a local home for children, she noted.
“We’ve contributed to other areas we’ve visited before like painting fences,” she said. “We wanted to help so we took our time trying to find the right group.”
Lueken said because she is acquainted with Kenneth Nasiboye, who treated a family member in Dallas, she was able to find a group to support. Nasiboye operates his own clinic in Africa. “He works nights for three months in the emergency room in Dallas then takes all the money he earns to operate the clinic,” she explained.
There were 16 in the travel group, Lueken said. “Several filled suitcases with basic necessity items,” she noted. The Luekens rented a van and along with another couple, Brooke and Kevin Campbell of South Carolina, loaded it up with the donations. They also stopped at a local dollar store to buy special gifts for each of the 150 children ages infant to high school.
“We had cash. We wanted to make sure every child got something special,” Lueken said. As it turned out, their purchases that day “was the biggest day that business had ever had.”
“It was amazing. The manager came up and took pictures of the baskets of purchases,” Lueken noted. “Not only were we doing something for the children but we helped that business. How could you not smile?”
After an hour’s drive, the couples arrived at the House Andrew Murray (HAM), one of the first children’s homes in South Africa accepting children of all population groups.
In 2003, HAM became part of the larger BADISA family with the establishment of a service of Mercy from the Dutch Reformed Church and the Dutch Reformed Church. Badisa, is a faith-based social welfare organization providing professional social welfare and development services. The organization started as the welfare services of the Dutch Reformed Church (Western and Southern Cape) and the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (Cape) and has grown to also provide these services in partnership with various stakeholders such as local and provincial government, the corporate sector and other non-profit organizations.
Lueken said HAM is a program that, from a Christian point of view, promotes the healthy development of a child in religious, education, physical and psychological fields through the application of multidisciplinary therapeutic services.
“One of the things that struck us is that HAM does not often adopt children out and never out of country,” she said. The parents, if possible, are encouraged to be a part of their child’s life at HAM.
The home was divided into dormitories with a “mother” assigned to each. The children are taught English but many still use the Africaan language.
Instead of passing all the items out to the children, the leaders of the home explained the gifts were be kept for special occasions such as birthdays. “We were assured every child would receive something,” she said. HAM is “very frugal” and must make the best use of what they have.
The couples toured the home, stopping in the infant area and classrooms. Lueken said while walking through the halls they saw a young child peeking over a door and waving. “He was all by himself, which we thought was odd,” she said. Later while holding an infant, the young boy rang into the room and couldn’t wait to hug and talk to them.
“It turns out, he had chicken pox and was in isolation,” she said. “He just wanted to talk to us and hug us.”
Lueken said one of the things striking her during the visit was the family atmosphere of the home. “They love and nuture the children like their own,” she said.
Staff members shared with the couples they have been praying for a long time for a connection with the U.S. and considered the Luekens and Campbells answered prayers. Before making the trip, Lueken said something kept “pulling at her heart strings” to do something while visiting South Africa
“How can you not be touched?” Lueken noted. “It puts everything in perspective.”
Lueken said she and fellow Scentsy representative Brooke Campbell are considering a fundraiser with proceeds to be donated to HAM.