Archive for the ‘Newsletter’ Category

April 22, 2016

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“What do you do with the money we send?”

Good question!  And rightfully asked.  Here’s some Q&A that may guide your prayers.

Last November, 6-year old Vusi was climbing a tree one afternoon in search of a mango (or 12) to eat.  (Would you scale a tree, chancing an encounter with wasps or snakes, and come down with only one?)  Not sure how it happened, but Vusi fell from the tree and jammed his left arm in a bad way. We determined it was serious enough to take him to the local (government) clinic, who referred him on to the hospital which is a half-hour’s drive away.  His caregiver took him, in a vehicle we own and not on public transport. They took an Xray, wrapped his elbow in one roll of gauze, plus a sling, and told his caregiver it was bruised. Two weeks later, the swelling and pain were unabated, with range-of-motion still at zero.

So here’s the philosophical question:  What should we do?  We are not here to do a “medical/health-care work.”  We’ve seen our calling to provide a safe, nurturing, and self-supporting residence for children orphaned or abandoned at a young age.  And to integrate that piece into a community of institutions (schools, churches, health care, etc.) that will be there for the long term.  However, as in all developing countries, there is another layer of health care available, – – the private clinics, doctors, and hospitals.  This extends across the border to South Africa with its top class health care for those who can afford it.  (We’ve benefited from the latter, as have most all missionaries across Southern Africa, i.e., making it unnecessary for us to fly to our 1st-world home countries for specialised care.).  So what should we do?

After two weeks we chose to opt up a level for Vusi.  It’s not the first time we’ve done so, – -for children or our staff.  Plus we’d seen several permanently disfigured elbows in the community that apparently failed to get proper diagnosis and treatment.

Proper diagnosis at Mbabane Private Clinic, by a Nigerian GP, established that there was indeed a fracture close to the end of one bone in the elbow.  The orthopaedic surgeon, a Zambian trained in the UK, prescribed an open reduction procedure with fixation.  A month later Peter took him for the removal of the pins.  Now Vusi is back to his usual high-energy, scatter-shot, movements all over the farm, and the range of motion is returning to his elbow. Though much cheaper than a similar procedure in the USA, it cost a pile of money.  On New Life Home’s income stream, we’re still paying it off four months later.

So what should we have done?

In the affluent world, the ultimate in modern health care is considered “a basic right.”  It’s not here!!  But have we now established an expectation that won’t be sustainable after the missionaries are gone?  An example of why your prayers for wisdom on our behalf are needed!

Are you still growing, i.e., receiving new placements?

Another good question!

In early March, a social worker from one of the cities called to request placement for three girls, aged nearly-two, four years, and six, – – all siblings.  We have been full.  But now some of older youth are in the process of ‘launching’ their independent lives, creating space here.

Which brings up another question we struggle with.  How much should be share of the backstory of these children’s lives?  Some children we’re not free to publish any information as their particular situation is too sensitive for legal or cultural reasons. For the others, are we “marketing” the stories of children and their various traumas for the sake of fund-raising and organisational survival (or profit).  Some facts are perhaps impossible to explain from this cultural situation.  Some may cause anger, cultural arrogance, revulsion, affluence guilt, etc.  Some of our neighbors resent the outsiders who appear to have made a career of bringing shame to their cultures and families through the retelling of various tragedies.  And the photos, do they always have to be so pathetic?

These concerns are legitimate and we also squirm with what we sometimes see going out for public consumption.  But how to avoid “the excesses of charity” is not a line that is easy to discern.  Feel free to share your ideas, cautions, or questions back to us as a way of keeping our perspective and practices in the best possible format.

This photo will also introduce you to our newest house-mother, Phumzile (POOM-ZEE-LEH) Nhlabatsi.  She started with us back in September.  She’s quickly gaining understanding of the business side of New Life Homes, and at home she’s a star!!  The girls in her house have blossomed under her loving input.  And she really wanted a “new little one.”  She had to take three, but is doing a super job with these three that do have a sad story and need lots of loving attention.

Please pray for wisdom for Phumzile, restoration for the souls of these three girls, and God’s continued provision for this ministry.

Thanks for all you do to make this possible.  It’s an honor to be here.

In His grace,
Peter & Mary Jean Kopp
Co-Founders New Life Children’s Homes

February 25, 2014

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We are back in Swaziland, since the 10th of January.  What a whirlwind it’s been!!

2014.FebWe enjoyed a wonderful and very happy welcome from all at the New Life Homes project, – – 35+ children, four house mothers, plus some farm staff, – – all crammed into our little cottage in a bid to make it a surprise.  The farm is such an active place that the dead silence and no sign of inhabitants as we drove in pretty well gave it away that something unusual was about to happen.  Then there was fireworks and cake!!  It was total delight to hug up on everyone, this latter aspect allowed in deference to our Western ways.

There’s been so much to catch up on!!, – – forty children in four households, “the farm”, plus the New Life Schools (Pre-school and Primary).

Schools opened for the new academic year about 10 days later.  So this required multiple trips to town over the next couple of weeks, shopping for uniforms for 30+, new school shoes for most, backpacks for many, then several loads of school stationary.  The photo here shows our six who were headed off to High School for the first time.

Another older girl who has been with us since she was three years old, brought back a “1st Class” score on her Junior Certificate Exam (equal to end of 10th grade in the USA).  So we’ve arranged for her to gain entry to a school farther away that historically generates better overall results than does the High School in our community. She chose that option and she’s really going for it, as in paying the price!! She leaves home at 5:30am, walks 20+minutes to the bus stop, transfers to another line along the way, then back again in the afternoon, usually reaching home between 6 and 7pm. Pray for Nomcebo!

New Life Schools, on the other hand, have presented Mary Jean with huge and mostly discouraging challenges. While our two missionary teachers are doing fantastically, the local teachers supplied by the government are dragging their feet. The typical pattern at local schools is for the teaching staff to arrive just before class begins and leave almost immediately after classes adjourn. Preparation is inadequate and the children loose out on the quality of education we are striving for. We are experiencing a serious conflict of educational cultures!

Please be much in prayer for us, as well as our colleagues, Tommy and Mandi Bottoms, and Tiersa Chaffin (training our Pre-School teachers). Honestly, we’re not clear on which way to go, which buttons to push, and which standards to ‘demand’ vs. ‘discuss and negotiate.’

Thanks for praying,

November 2, 2013

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Thanks for praying!

October 2013, Board of Directors, African Leadership Partners, Inc.

October 2013, Board of Directors, African Leadership Partners, Inc.

Every time we get together as the Board of Directors to discuss the work of African Leadership Partners, we have a great time. Mark & Terri Judy (center) were able to join us, all the way from Kenya, East Africa, where they serve in field leadership with Africa Inland Mission. Our discussions were greatly encouraging to Mary Jean and me. We worked through a number of sensitive issues with a wonderful spirit of unity. We continue to thank God for each one on this board, most of whom have been close friends for almost 40 years.

As usual, a certain amount of time was given to looking at the financial position of the mission, now composed of three missionary units, plus a fourth family seconded from The Antioch Partners. With the recent global economic crisis putting strains on many churches and mission groups, we have not escaped the pressures. We’ve seen our reserves draining down as donor’s ability to give was being reduced. More than 20 donors have fallen away in the last two years alone. During the past five years of global downturn, Mary Jean and I have chosen to not seek to raise additional income to replace those supporting partners who could not continue. Over this season we’ve seen God supply!! Sometimes it has been “unexpected” gifts and sometimes through our decisions to slow the pace, or by pulling back completely. However, now our Board has encouraged us to step up efforts to share our financial situation.

You will know that we receive donations via three channels. Two of these are focused fully on the New Life Children’s Homes project, in the form of “Child Sponsorships” and the more general “Orphan Project Support.” The latter account allows us funds to extend the various developmental aspects of this challenging undertaking. Both of these funds go 100% to the orphan project. The third channel is support to Mary Jean and me, providing the usual salary, housing, and health insurance. In addition, these funds provide all the overhead associated with our work which also includes leadership training services to a variety of churches in Swaziland as well as in several nations in the region. On top of the usual banking fees, communications, and office expenses, the higher priced line items are transportation, and supplementing the costs of leadership training. You can imagine with fuel at more than $5/gallon in our area, and more than $8/gallon in Zambia, plus the extensive distances involved, that transportation costs are our biggest single line item. Remember, Zambia is twice the geographic size of California!! Twenty two years ago, when we first arrived to serve in Africa this item was set at $500/month. This has now risen to $1,100/mo.

Needless to say, as we have aged (“seasoned” is the PC term I’ve learned recently), so has our circle of supporters. Some have passed on to glory; others have retired, while many have been severely pinched by the macro economic factors. As an example, we were startled to note recently that 5 of our current donors are each over 90 years of age, having given faithfully for most all the years we’ve been in missions, and are sharing more than $600/mo of support to our ministry.

In short we set a goal to restore $2000/mo in our support contingent. We’ve already seen some of this coming together. At this point we still need a little more than $1000 per month.

Peter & Mary Jean KoppIn addition the time has come to replace our delivery vehicle for New Life Homes. It is a compact Toyota pick-up that is now 14 years old, with around 400,000kms on the clock (240,000miles equivalent), with much of that on rough gravel roads. Maintenance costs are now chronic. We estimate that we need about $25,000, and currently have $15,000 in hand (including the value of the old unit) to purchase a 3 to 5 year old replacement.

You didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. Both of us are 62 years old this year, enjoying excellent health, and hoping to continue effectively serving His Kingdom for many years to come, — Lord willing.

We are asking you to pray with us for God’s provision of finances to enable us to continue strongly in the work we’ve been called to. And please do consider if you are able to give some portion of your material resources to help us and those we seek to serve.

Thanks for praying!

PS: I’m making progress on the writing of “Money Matters: God’s Answers to Poverty” with still much to go before I can get it to some readers and then to editors.

September 15, 2013

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This photo was taken in December 2012. Four of our New Life Homes children missed the photo. Two little ones were napping. The two oldest were away at boarding school and at work.

This photo was taken in December 2012. Four of our New Life Homes children missed the photo. Two little ones were napping. The two oldest were away at boarding school and at work.

New Life Children’s Homes, through the generous partnership of many churches, individuals, and other donor groups, now carries the responsibility of four homes and 40 children, as well as those that earn their living through some form of care for them. We are blessed with many hard-working Swazi nationals who are adding their skills and energy to creating a second chance for these children. Some are in-the-home caregivers. We call them Moms and Aunties. The children do too. Others are farm workers and managers, while some contribute as school teachers, as well as those in government departments of health, agriculture, and social welfare who take a special interest.

The photo above was taken in December 2012. Four of our New Life Homes children missed the photo. Two little ones were napping. The two oldest were away at boarding school and at work.

“The farm” as we all refer to it was a no-longer-commercially-viable property, standing idle for 20 years when we found it in 2003. Several generous donors made it possible for us to purchase. Now there are four homes caring for 40 vulnerable children, and 85% supported by the food and marketed produce. Fifteen permanent jobs have been created for members of the community (plus seasonal hires), extending the economic benefit to those households. There’s space too for education, pre-school through Grade 7. Government salaried teachers, plus some mission-supported teachers, labor alongside support-staff hired from the community (Yeah!!, more jobs). 70 children are enrolled this year, with more than half being from the surrounding community, paying fees that support the local hires (two of whom are also enrolled in teacher education programs on the side). Self-sustainability has been one of our primary core values from the beginning.

Please pray for the nine youngsters who are writing extensive exams during this month. One is finishing high school. Another is finishing Form 3 (mid-point of secondary school). At New Life Primary School there will seven writing exams spread over two weeks.

Thanks for your part in making this a good story, through your interest, generosity, and prayers,

– Peter and Mary Jean Kopp