We would really like to thank Crossroads Teen Centre for giving some of our orphans such a fantastic day. A bunch of teenagers from the Teen Centre in Empangeni came out and entertained our children. First they played some games, which is always such a hit, and then out popped the puppets. The children were completely enthralled.
The boys and girls where then divided and the boys all headed down to our river to have a big game of soccer. Playing on the river sand really had some of the town teenagers puffing and panting! The girls all stayed at the Support Centre and got their faces painted and did some wonderful drawings. It was an all round successful day with our orphans feeling very spoilt and loved.
We would really like to thank Carin Stirk from Healthdown Farm for the incredible amounts of spinach that they gave us. We awoke early and loaded some caregivers into our pickups and headed out to the farm. It took us half a day to cut all the spinach and 4 bakkie loads to get it all back to our Support Centre. The spinach was shared between 120 families. It was like an early Christmas.
To family, friends and anyone keen for a life-changing time…
Every year that I have sent out this letter, I always want it to be just right. I really need everyone to realise how important this is. This is such a huge task and always so daunting! As this year has been really tough, for everyone I know, I think that is why I’m nervous about writing this year’s Annual Orphan Christmas Party letter. I heard on East Coast Radio yesterday that it was the official start of the ECR Toy Story, so even though I have been building myself up to write this for a few weeks, now is definitely the time.
I know many of you have been following our progress over the years, I’m not sure if you realise this will be our 8th Annual Orphan Christmas Party. Last year, many of you came to help on the day which was so appreciated as we had 1000 orphans and caregivers and all the volunteers helped make the day be the most incredible success and it ran so smoothly. Every year just gets better and better. The children were so spoilt, and the caregivers even more so. For the first time, we were able to give a gift to every caregiver that they never expected. They were literally dancing with joy! Revlon gave them the ‘You’re the Fire’ body range and Omo gave them a T-shirt. They wear these T-shirts to a lot of our functions as for most of them; it is the best one that they own! There is no doubt that this day is the most incredible day of the year for absolutely everyone involved. And I know that as soon as this letter has gone out, I can start looking forward to it.
Last year, we were supporting 509 orphans in 182 families. This year, our numbers have grown to 849 orphans in 330 families! Our numbers grow by 60% every year!! We only enter the orphans onto our system as they enter school so we have not included the children younger than 6 years into this figure. This means that for this year’s party, we are aiming at catering for 1170 orphans and 330 caregivers, totalling 1500! As we were full to capacity last year, and after much thought, we have decided to split the party over 2 days, namely Saturday 12/12 and Sunday 13/12. We will have 750 per day and we will split it by the areas into which we work. Every homestead has a number which will be their pass to enter on each day so we won’t have any problems.
We have really well-tuned the structure of the party over the years so we will follow it again, but we are always open to any suggestions and ideas so don’t feel shy! We have Crossroads Teen Centre in Empangeni who will do some entertaining for our children incorporating the meaning of Christmas. We had our son, Sandile, be the first black Joseph at our local little country church’s nativity play a couple of years ago and he asked me why they told ‘that story’? I was blown-away that he didn’t know. So I have a good idea that almost all of our orphans have no idea what Christmas is all about so we have the Teens doing their version of the nativity play for our children. After some music and fun, we like to give them all a meal of 2 hotdogs and juice along with the most treasured party pack. We really like to give an individual juice like a can or a bottle as this really helps with organisation with such huge numbers.As I said, this year has been really tough with the whole global economic crunch. You would think with our orphans being so poor as it is, that it wouldn’t make a difference, but even for them it has. Every year we have bought them their necessary uniform but this year we were only able to buy for our new grade 1s and those entering high school into grade 8. That was only 106 out of the 849 children, all thank-you to ‘Kili for Kids’ initiated by Empangeni Round Table 61. And they even took Chadd with them to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro in all the name of orphans. What a dream that was for Chadd of all people J. Chadd wanted to ride his downhill mountain bike all the way down while being filmed by a helicopter but they said no helicopter will even get anywhere near the top! Also on the plus side, thanks to Power Spar, Msizi Africa, Container Ministries and Horizon International, we have been able to feed 140 families out of the 330 on a monthly basis. As tough as this year has been on all of us, we really want to go all out to spoil these children at the party and end the year on a great high note.
Then the best part of all, we like to give each child, and maybe the caregiver, a gift. Toy Story have been fantastic the last 3 years as they have really come through for us but the problem is their gifts are only for children up to 14 years of age. We have put in our application with them again this year. But this will only cover our primary school children. What we need is gifts for our high school children. We will have 250 boys and 250 girls. The girls just love lip gloss, body spray, nail polish, earrings, anything girly really. The boys got so spoilt last year with good quality soccer balls, thanks to iLembe Technologies. For them, there was no better gift! But they too love deodorant, T-shirts, socks or such. Even bubblegum is also a big favourite! Also basic stationary – BLUE PENS are a big winner.
I cannot stress enough how much we need hands to help on the day. We are 15kms inland from Empangeni right on the border of the tribal lands, where Chadd grew up. All the orphans we support live around us in rural Zululand. We are less than 2 hours from Durban and it is such an easy drive. Last year we had companies come up as a team building experience and they all said it was definitely one of the best things they had ever done! A good idea too is we have had companies tell their clients that instead of giving gifts, they have donated money towards our party on their behalf. The invitation to join us is open to absolutely everybody as the more hands we have the more enjoyable and organised it can be.
Some really good news is that at last we received our Public Benefit Organisation number (N90031129) that lets you, any taxpayer, donate money from your income and then the government, SARS, will give that money off from the tax you would have had to pay anyway. It’s currently at 10% of your income that you can give away. I believe this to be incredible as you can personally put your money where you think the government should. This is a real blessing to us as we are really relying on one and all to make this party come together. In the previous years, we have had phone calls from the big companies to come and collect cheques but this year has been so unbelievably quiet. Our Annual Orphan Christmas Party is how Izulu Orphan Projects started. With the money we had left over from the party is what we used to pay school fees and buy uniforms. We are really hoping to be able to do this again for the school year beginning in January 2010. We are so desperate to buy uniforms as our orphans are not allowed to attend school unless they have the right attire and every school has a specific uniform that costs an arm and a leg! This infuriates as to no end as what was wrong with the good old grey pants/skirts and white shirts?!
Please tell everybody that there are many ways to get involved from buying a gift to donating bread rolls to making some party packs (included is a small packet of chips, fizzer, sucker and some sweeties). We hire busses to collect our children as some are really young and most of the caregivers are really old or HIV positive and it really is such an extremely long way for most of them to walk, for some it is more than 15 kms away! We will need 3 busses each day at R2400 per bus. The most important thing is to have you join us on the day, just to give of your time and energy. I can promise you that you will leave so much more energised! Not one volunteer has ever left unchanged! It is the best way to start the Christmas season.
You can contact us on the following numbers:
Kate Bain – 084 600 9947
Chadd Bain – 083 649 9990.
My mom, Heather Ellens, also plays delivery ‘guy’ and storeroom warehouse manager at her home in Durban and her numbers are (031) 207 4958 and 082 779 3443. She lives just off Ridge Road at 20 Hammersmith Avenue.
I have learnt over the years that including our banking details really saves time:
We are really grateful to everybody for just allowing us to have a day like this. As nerve racking as it is, we feel really blessed to be able to lead and organise such an event. But there is no doubt that we are nothing in this. It is all of you that give a day of a lifetime to so many desperate children.
Thank-you to everybody and I know it is really early, but enjoy every moment of this Christmas period. It certainly the time of year to have the most fun.
Chadd and Kate Bain