A significant chunk of our time and energy is put into our children’s and youth programmes, for which each child has a unique story. The photos show some of the activities that this includes, so I will just share three stories to give you a glimpse into this part of our work:
One girl in our Kids Clubs, Nickeba, who is nine, had swelling and breaking sores on her hands for several weeks. We spoke to teachers at her school, who had spoken to her mother about taking Nickeba to the clinic, and we sent two of our team to speak to the mother about it as well. Her mother works 6 days a week and is gone for 12 hours a day, while the local clinic often takes a full day to get seen, so it is not easy for her to do this. However, the mother not only did not take Nickeba, she also insisted to our team that she had; but that it was Nickeba’s fault for not taking her medication. So when Nickeba turned up the following week with her hands in worse condition, making them un-useable, we spoke to a friend who is a Dr. and asked if she could come to the next club to see Nickeba. When the Dr. came, we set her up in a room so Nickeba could get seen and have her hands dressed. With bandages over her hands, she had a huge smile across her face, basking in something that she doesn’t get enough of; a little attention. Through a gift from some supporters in Australia we managed to fill the prescription, and within a week the hands were much improved, clearing up completely within two weeks. What was even more special about this though, is that since that time Nickeba has been working really hard to remember the weekly memory verses; her way of responding to the love that she has received. Life is still tough for her; after an argument her parents have been passing Nickeba to and fro between them, neither wanting to take responsibility for her. In spite of this, Nickeba faithfully arrives early every week to kids club, has continued trying to learn the memory verses, and has surprisingly been improving in her behaviour. The love and attention she has been getting are helping her have a little anchor amidst some rough waters.
Another young man, Melvin, started coming to our youth programmes over 7 years ago. He is now 19 and part of the volunteer team for both the children and youth work. His father died when he was very young, so he has little memory of him other than the stories he has been told about him. His mother had to work long hours to provide for the children, so Melvin grew up with little guidance, hanging out with friends or his uncles. He said that he only ever experienced encouragement in his childhood in two situations: if he didn’t back down from a fight, or if he showed interest in girls. That was until he joined Fusion’s youth programme and found that the team encouraged him in many more positive ways, helping him learn new things about life, to stay in school, to pursue a qualification, and also to become a volunteer in some of the other programmes. Melvin became a Christian, and was baptised at the beginning of this year, and he has really grown, becoming quick to take initiative to help others. It has been a delight to see his growth over these years and particularly this year.
Children who get too old for Kids Club then move into the youth programme, which has been encouraging lately, so I will tell a bit of that story along with a comment from one young person; Brooke. There is a stage that many of our children go through, from about 11 years of age to 14-ish, when they have a lot of energy and don’t do so well at listening! It can be a tough phase, requiring a lot of firm drawing of boundaries and explicit communication of expectations, as well as a lot of love, grace, acceptance and affirmation. Brooke was part of a group that all went through that phase together, and tested the patience and perseverance of our team many times! Three people in that group came to faith about three months ago, and have been committed members of our youth Bible study since. Brooke had become a Christian a few years ago when she was at Kids Club, but home life has been hard with her parents not together, her father going overseas and her mother not finding any work and carrying a lot of frustration that has been directed at Brooke, so she has had her struggles over recent years. At the club a month ago she asked for prayer to recommit her life to Christ, and as the group looked at some old photos (because it was our last club before the summer break) she suddenly exclaimed: “You know what … you leaders have stuck with us for so long and through everything we have put you through… and you are the only adults that can talk to us!” She went on to say how grateful she was, and many of the others joined in. It was an unexpected moment of gratitude and appreciation, as well as recognising the impact that the team has been having on these young people. In each of these stories, what has made the difference is simply people in our team living out the message of the cross, by being there for these young people in the challenges that they were facing.