There’s a Xhosa kid in Red Hill named KweKwe. I knew him a little when I was here last year and I’ve gotten to know him a bit more this time. He’s only maybe 9 or 10, but he’s a hardened child. You can see it in his face. I don’t know any details of his home life, but he's clearly harboring a lot of anger and pain. Living Hope has a rule at Children’s Club that if kids fight, they get one time-out; if they fight again, they go home for the day. KweKwe has been sent home on more than one occasion.
Underneath all that anger and pain is a softer side and a longing to be loved. One afternoon a few weeks ago, I was sitting next to KweKwe while my friend Mzo was teaching the day’s lesson. I had to get up for some reason that I can’t recall now. When I came back, another boy had taken my spot. KweKwe elbowed him and demanded that he move over so I could sit back down. I sat and put my arm around KweKwe, and he spent the rest of the lesson quietly listening and clinging to my arm.
No words were exchanged between us, but just spending those few minutes next to KweKwe made me realize how vulnerable and afraid he really is. And he’s not the only one. The things so many of these kids are exposed to at home and throughout the community – alcohol and drug abuse, parents fighting (or parents and their girlfriends/boyfriends fighting), a general sense of hopelessness – make those couple of hours at Children’s Club each day a refuge for them.
At such a young age, a child’s life can go in either direction, up or down. In these circumstances, the odds are stacked against them going up. But where there’s Christ, there’s hope – living hope, according to the verse that inspired the name of the NGO that has done so much to shine light into these dark places around Cape Town. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead …” (1 Peter 1:3).
I pray that such hope can continue to be spread in Red Hill and the other townships and settlements where Living Hope works. For more information on how to help support this vital work – which desperately needs funding to continue in 2010 – please visit www.livinghope.co.za.