Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa, Beth Venable Scholarship Awards!

 We left our adventures and many swirling ideas of great things to come our way in the future in Ethiopia, and headed over to Cape Town South Africa! 
If you read our previous posts, you know that we started out on this adventure through Africa to find great use for the Beth Venable Memorial Fund. To read more about the Beth Venable Memorial,
  click here. Many blessings have come our way because of the great life that Beth lived. It is our privilege to find the best way to bless children in need with these blessings. Her husband, Michael, joined our team to Africa just two months after losing his wife, Beth, to brain disease. They have a heart for orphans and had just welcomed their own little son into their family months before Beth's passing. God has many plans for Beth's fund....and we found that part of that plan led us to a High School inside a township in South Africa! 

We arrived in South Africa in order to find the underprivileged in this great big, beautiful city, and bless them with a future through education. 

What brought us to Cape Town was my daughter, Lauren, who is studying abroad. Part of her program placed her to do service learning work in a High School inside a township, which is filled with underprivileged youth living in shacks just outside the city. Twelfth graders in Cape Town only enter the University once they pass a test called the Matric. It is very hard and if they don't pass then they can't go to the University, and have to start the year over. One thing that is heartbreaking for some of the students is that they do pass at the top of their class, are very smart, and have worked hard to get where they are, but then they can't even afford the registration fee for the University, much less any other living expenses or tuition. 
That's where we come in!

You see, Cape Town is still one of the most culturally divided cities in all the world. 
It is beautiful beyond belief. (Yes, I took these pics :-) 

 It has an ocean, beautiful countryside, and a beautiful city as well. It is very well developed and does not look like there is any poverty......until.....
 you head over to the townships on the outskirts of the city. 
During Apartheid (which is a whole other story) those that were black or "colored" as they call them,
were stripped of their rights and forced to live outside the city, which is just awful! Since then there are entire communities and generations that live in shacks because they were stripped of their rights during Apartheid. These townships are full of gangs and violence, but also.......

Let me introduce you to Misiyile Highschool in the middle of Khayelitsha Township

 This is the school that my daughter has been serving in. She saw a need and Michael wanted to bring Beth's fund over and help fill that we did! 
Here we are with the Principal of the school, and also, Ms Muchacha, one of the main life skills teachers who has really taken an interest in this program and helped Lauren make it possible. 
Lauren worked with the teachers and created a scholarship application and interview process for many of the twelfth grade students with plans to go to the University. She narrowed it down to four in the end whom she chose to win the scholarships based on their grades and life goals. 

We wanted to surprise the kids with their families present so we told the four winners that we needed to do one last round of interviews with their family as well in order to decide the winners (heehee).
They showed up to take us to their one by one, off we went for the big surprise! 
These kids were so nervous!
 It truly was eye opening and humbling to see where these kids are from and how they live. They are one and two room concrete block homes. 
Lauren, sounding very professional, sat down and began the "interview" process, asking each child what this scholarship would mean to them and their family. 
Every one of these kids shared their hearts while their moms looked on with tears in their eyes. 
Here we have Sizwe, a boy full of joy and never took the smile off his face until he started sharing his heart and what this scholarship would mean to him. He wants to change the life of his family by getting an education and becoming a teacher. He said he would like to be Principal one day. 
 I can't tell you what it was like to see Michael be able to say that "on behalf of Ordinary Hero, and the life of my wife, Beth, we would like to present you with this scholarship to the University of your choice! WOW!!!!! 
 Can you just say TEARS!!??
 We are all crying, the mom is crying, the Grandma...etc. He will be the first in his family to go to the University and get an education.
 We asked him where he studies to make such good grades and he pulled a curtain back and walked into a room piled high to the ceiling with everything they own, I guess. He uses the window light to study. 
 Here we are gathered outside his home with our OH team, Ms Muchacha, Sizwe and his family, and Lauren's CIEE Program directors. 
 What a special moment for both of these two!

We captured Sizwe's excitement on video which you can see on this post!

Next we move on to the next top winner, Charity! We showed up unannounced and found her in her home with her family, studying for the Matric test. 
 After her "interview", Michael shared his heart with her and presented her with the scholarship! 
So amazing! She jumped up and did a dance :-)
 She grabbed Lauren and gave her a big hug!
 Here we all are with her family outside her home. 
 Another life changed because of Beth! She wants to be a social worker!
 Our third stop was at McKwezi's home. Lauren told me that he was the only one who showed up for his original interview completely dressed up with shirt and tie and even cologne. She said he is very quiet but a strong spirit and wants so much for his life. Since he was told this was another interview, guess who showed up in his best dress again? 
 His mother spoke to us and shared her heart with some tears that had us all emotional. It meant the world to them when we presented him with his scholarship!
 He wants to be a videographer at the end of his studies. 
 He showed us his room where he studies.
 A third life and family changed!!

 Our final scholarship winner is called Wonga. During her interview it was just she and her mom. 
 I couldn't help but snap a pic of the scholarship in hiding as she was "interviewing" :-) 
 Wonga was just so sweet. She shared her heart to us and her story of their family being poor and what this scholarship would mean to all of them. She and her mom were on the verge of tears the whole time. 
 Of course the tears flowed once Michael reached over and handed her the scholarship and told her she had been chosen as a winner. 
 Lauren has made some lifetime friendships with these kids. 
 After they gathered themselves they paused for a quick pic. 
 She shared her heart on our video which you can see on this page. 
 This truly was one of the best experiences EVER! We saw lives change in an instant because of the life legacy that Beth left behind. We hope to continue these scholarships each year with the new twelfth graders. We got to speak to the entire eleventh grade class before we left and really challenged them to put aside gangsterism and grab onto God and go for their dreams. We told them they can be an Ordinary Hero because they have many Ordinary Heroes behind them, cheering them on to be all that they can be. 
 These shacks may not look like much but they have hidden treasure living inside them. 
We are so blessed to have found some of that treasure and launch them into their future! 

Thank you, Beth, for changing the world for these kids in need through the beautiful life you lived!!
If you would like to donate to the Beth Venable Memorial Fund, click here. 

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