Hope in Vuhehli

The Limpopo Province in South Africa is home to Kruger National Park, one of the largest and most beautiful wild game reserves in Africa. Tourists from all over the world travel to this park to marvel at the beauty of the region and the variety of wildlife, including the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo). 

But there is a juxtaposition between this natural beauty and the dramatic lack of resources in much of Limpopo, most dramatically realized in a rural village in Giyani, miles from Kruger. It has been more than four years since any measurable rain has fallen in this area, and the terrain gives witness to this. No grass anywhere; massive dried-out riverbeds; dust; rocks; leafless trees; and no safe, accessible water source. Nobody travels to this area. There isn’t much to see … or is there?

Through Willow Creek’s partnership with the Limpopo Church Network (LCN), a group of about 30 churches, we were introduced to the Vuhehli Drop-In Centre, an after-school program located in this rural Giyani village that started with help from an LCN church and several volunteer ladies from the village. They simply wanted to create a safe place for children to learn, receive help with schoolwork, get a snack (perhaps the only food they would receive that day), and just play. 

But it became very clear that the greatest need in this village was clean, accessible water, and this was affirmed by the village leadership. So through Celebration of Hope (COH) funds, a deepwater borehole was drilled at Vuhehli, with a submersible pump and two 5,000 liter tanks on 20-foot towers with multiple taps. 

Fast forward three years. What started as a basic after-school drop-in center has flourished into a pioneering project that is changing everything in the village. The expanded land provided by the Chief of the Vuhehli area now not only houses the clean-water source, but is also home to new, innovative, and sustainable projects that improve the lives of people in the community.

A poultry project with 100 laying hens that produce 200+ eggs per day was made possible because of access to clean water. The manure from the chickens is placed into a biofuel digester that provides methane gas for the newly built kitchens (provided with COH funds). In these kitchens, meals are made for the kids coming to the drop-in center, and cooking lessons are planned for the future. The “slurry” (leftover solids) from the biofuel digester is used to fertilize the organic garden (some seeds provided through COH) that produces vegetables used to subsidize meals for the children, along with some of the eggs. A solar dryer dehydrates unused fresh vegetables, which can be rehydrated for later use. 

People from the village come to Vuhehli daily to purchase the surplus eggs and vegetables, and the income generated is poured back into the project. This grand experiment is still in the developmental stage and has many bugs to be worked out, but once fully functional, the plan is to replicate this in other rural areas plagued by the same difficult issues of poverty, drought, illness, and educational and childcare challenges. 

Today, more than 250 children receive love, tutoring, meals, safety, and fun at the drop-in center. And the entire community benefits from the clean water and nutritional resources. If all goes well, Vuhehli will be a model for future hope in other rural areas of South Africa. And this is all possible because of your generous support for Willow’s global partners. Thank you.

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