Bringing Hope, Breaking Despair

On July 2nd I boarded a bus in Port Elizabeth and headed for Cape Town.  After an eventful 14-hour ride I was parked in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Southern Peninsula in Cape Town.

Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope are located at the bottom of this peninsula and make up the southwestern most part of the continent. Last weekend we drove out to this point, winding our way through the beautiful terrain of Table Mountain National Park. Once we reached Cape Point it was only a short hike up a small mountain to set our eyes on a breathtaking view. As you stare out into the ocean at this point you realize that it stretches all the way out until Antarctica and if you look closely, you can see a swirl that occurs where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.

Close to where these two oceans meet is an organization called Living Hope. Living Hope is a Christian organization whose vision is to reach people for Christ. They are an organization with a number of outreaches, which includes substance abuse recovery, life skills and education, and economic empowerment.

The outreach of Living Hope that I was volunteering with was Living Way. This is their economic empowerment outreach and aims to teach people the skills necessary to earn their way out of poverty. This intensive program  teaches all of the skills one needs to know to run their own business, through way of tunnel farming and raising chickens. The program lasts nine months, starts with about 30 students, goes through three stages and ends with 2-3 individuals. The finial 2-3 individuals whom end up making their way through the program are fully invested in for an additional 12 months. This program has a number of success stories from students exiting at different stages of the program. If students do not move on from one stage to the next or they decide to leave, they can still use the expertise and facilities of Living Hope to continue their life/skills training.

At Living Hope was able to participate in the final weeks of stage two of their program. At this stage, the students prepare a business proposal based off of their previous six months in the program. During this six-month stage the students were responsible for running and operating a chicken coup, as well as making sales and keeping their books on the business.

For me, it was incredible to be a part of a program so well run and operated with dedicated, motivated individuals on both ends. One of my favorite parts of the program was the morning devotional. The participants in the program all had a day they were responsible for leading. It was during this time I learned so much about the people I was working with and became more connected through our relationship with the savior, Jesus Christ.

As I am leaving this weekend I will greatly miss the students and staff at Living Hope.  I praise God that he gave me the opportunity to work with an inspiring group that has an incredible vision on how to empower the impoverished. I look forward to continuing a relationship with Living Hope and praying that God continues to bless them as individuals and as an organization.

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