Jordan Rink was about to graduate from college when she decided to go to S. Africa to be with a missionary from her church. She then began to work with Mosaic, an organization that works to provide orphan care to children living in the slums of a Johannesburg suburb. Many single mothers take custody of their friends', sisters', or neighbors' children if they die, which means that many women are easily responsible for 8-10 kids. Obviously, this is a problem because this part of S. Africa has an unemployment rate of close to 70%. Mosaic builds houses and gives them to single moms looking after at least 2 foster kids. They pay only $20/month, and after 10 years the house is entirely theirs. There are after-school programs and tutoring for kids and Mosaic tries to get jobs for the adults as well. Today, there are about 80 kids in the neighborhood. Recently, Jordan started Made By Mosaic, which hires some of the single mothers to make crafts to sell. They aren't just your typical "African bead necklace": they had some really professional-looking stuff. They acquired the tools for a leather shop, so everything is very nice. Their online store will be launched in later January, so check them out! I'm super excited for them: www.madebymosaic.com
After lunch, some of the employees took us on "tours" (if you can call them that) of the neighborhood. I wish I had taken photos, but it felt wrong to invade their privacy like that. The Mosaic houses are wonderful. Nothing fancy, but with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a real bathroom, and a common/living room in the middle. Then we walked down the dusty, red street to the other side of the neighborhood.
The change was instant. These houses were made of corrugated metal and cardboard, stapled, nailed, or tied together. There was obviously no water or electricity in each maybe 10' by 6' home. Some children ran around while their moms gossiped under the merciful shade of a small tree. We only saw a few men, and each held a bottle of beer in his hand. It was so sad at first, but then the mothers called our small group over. They told us about their lives briefly, seeming too shy or embarrassed to elaborate much. They were proud of their children, though, and you could tell they give all they have to their kids. Eventually, we returned to mosaic and came back to Wilgespruit.
Today was powerful because it reminded me so much of Pine Ridge. The way the kids are raised communally, the poverty, the pride in the children. It was incredibly eye-opening and I'll never forget it.
Here's just another pic of the place we're staying: