The work of Shelter started with 1 Sunday school, with about 8 children attending the first meeting. The work has since expanded to reach hundreds of children. Activities are organised regularly like for instance soccer competitions, needle work for the girls, a camp to the sea and a big annual Christmas party to which all the children from the Sunday school are invited.
By presenting the Sunday schools, Shelter manages to reach a lot of children. By presenting the gospel, they meet families that are living in difficult situations. They support these families where possible with advice, food, clothes and medical support.
The children living in and around Kriel often live in bad circumstances. The Shelter aims to set an example to the children and show them that they are precious in God's eyes by demonstrating God's love to them.
By doing the Sunday schools it became clear that a number of children were left to fend for themselves because they did not have parents who could take care of them. The Shelter therefore started a children home which presents help to each child who needs support. The Shelter employs a number of full time caregivers who look after the children. These caregivers are part of the local population.
There are about 20 to 30 children aged between 0 and 18 years who live in the children home. The children receive accommodation, food, a bed, education, additional homework support and a place where they can simply be a child again.
By providing the children with a stabile home, they are able to deal with traumatic events that happened in their past and leave it behind them. The children receive good training and thereby a better future.
The children around Kriel do not have many places where they can hang out after school hours. The youth centre provides a place for relaxation, homework support and a place where they meet a listening ear and receive advice.
Youth evenings and alpha courses are also presented in the Youth centres. It is a place where the youth can be safe and where they can have fun, a place where they can meet each other and meet God and where they are encouraged to carry on even though life may sometimes be difficult.
Many children enter school at a disadvantage because their parents could not afford pre-school classes, or couldn't afford the transportation costs to attend pre-school. The development of their English language skills is especially important because English is often the medium of instruction at school and it is expected that all children are fluent in the language.
The Shelter tries to help with the development of these and other basic skills through the pre-school that runs in the Kriel Youth centre. Local women work in the pre-school. Parent evenings are organised so that parents can communicate any concerns to the teachers.
We run Bible studies to teach participants the principles of the Christian faith. Many South Africans follow a religion that mixes Christianity with prayers to ancestral spirits. Traditional medicine men and women (Sangoma's) therefore still have a huge influence on the population, which results in many taboos about for instance aids amongst the population.
By participating in Bible studies many of the youth's lives have changed in a positive sense. They have made a conscious decision to follow Jesus and have changed their life style. God is performing miracles in the lives of these youths.
Training the leaders
The work continues to expand and there is a need for more support. Therefore we train a number of the older youth members to continue working within Shelter. We are grateful to God that he blesses the work with these youth members. They know the background of the children better than others and can therefore reach the children.