For the last week and half, my team and I have been working for an organization in South Africa called Ithemba Lethu. We came to Africa armed with face paints, crafts, songs, inspiring talks, balloon animals, t-shirts and the hope that our presence would communicate to the Zulu kids living in shantytowns ravaged by poverty and HIV/ AIDS, that they were infinitely important to God.
We had no idea what to expect, no inkling of how our hearts would be ripped out and replanted in the poor community of Cato Manor. The children captured us. Most don't have enough food and go to bed hungry. Most have witnessed indescribable violence. Some have been raped. Many are HIV infected. We knew the statistics. We had heard the stories.
Nothing could have prepared us for meeting the children, the real faces behind the cold statistics. Smart, resilient, wise beyond their years, these children reflect the very face of God.
We came to minister to them, to help them, to inspire hope in their hearts. With the help of the dedicated Ithemba Lethu youth workers, I believe we built spoke life into the kids. I believe that the very presence of our team communicated to them that they have inifinite worth and value. I believe that the children did leave with more hope than before.
But, today, our hearts are broken. We fell in love with the children and leaving them today was painful.
We have a new set of heroes. And they're only 4 feet tall.