Mission Year

by Timon Köbele, February 1, 2011 

Hi, my name is Timon Köbele, 21 years, and I come from Hessisch Oldendorf, a small town in Germany, far away, but oddly in the same time zone as South Africa. I finished school after 13 years and served an apprenticeship as an industrial merchant in a snack company for two years. After completing this I worked in the same company in the marketing department.

I decided that I wanted to go to South Africa for one year to do a social year for God by helping other people. God was so generous to me the last time! I also want to improve my English, (so please help me!) and to gain new experiences.

After searching the internet for suitable volunteer work, I arrived at this wonderful orphanage in Empangeni. Now I'm a volunteer working and staying at Ikhaya. My jobs are different each day: driving (I have had to get used to the driving on the left), office and internet work, gardening, building jobs, caring for the kids and all the other jobs left over! I like my jobs!

My hobbies are mountain biking, swimming, taking photos, visiting foreign places, meeting friends and more.

I hope this year will change my life!

German volunteer for Orphanage

by Ty Heuser, February 1, 2011 

My name is Ty. Well actually it's Timon but because there is another volunteer with the same name who is staying here for the same amount of time, everyone came up with this nickname for me. I'm 19 years old, I have lived in Germany my entire life and now I'm volunteering for one year at this beautiful and very precious orphanage “iKhaya LikaBaba.”

When I was in South Africa 3 years ago, I have dreamt of coming back because I have loved this place from the beginning. This dream came true when I finished school a couple of months ago and decided to take a gap year in order to be involved in a social project. Since I had good contacts with iKhaya the decision was easy to spend this year in Empangeni, and I think being here is exactly right.

Working at iKhaya LikaBaba, playing with the kids and babies and helping to make this orphanage a nice, peaceful shelter and home is very fulfilling and definitely worth being involved in! I always loved to work with kids and youth. In my church in Germany I have been part of the kid’s ministry for a very long time and for the last two years my main focus has been opening and leading the youth. These years have shaped my character and formed my spiritual life extremely! Though I have not much experience in working with
babies and toddlers, like those at iKhaya, I have always had a heart for kids and loved to be around them.

I also love music! Playing my acoustic guitar is very relaxing for me and there is really no greater joy then playing the bass in the worship team in my home-church.

I am very glad that I can combine the work with kids at iKhaya LikaBaba with being involved in worship at youth in the local church and homegroup! 
Being in a foreign country, speaking a different language and doing something you have never done before is exciting and challenging every single day. But I love it! 

Claire Jesse

Clair Jesse - USA
Volunteered for 9 months

Claire-Jess-testimonyThe ways in which my 9 months at Ikhaya has changed me are absolutely endless. My heart was opened. I was challenged intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Taking on the future of the kids, taking that on emotionally was rewarding but also something I had to continually work on. I had to do a lot of “storing up” of energy and room in my mind and heart. It was a lesson in putting others first.

Mainly, I was made very aware of how powerful I could be. I was shocked at how much I could touch other lives. Acknowledging people, telling them they are loved and valued, listening to people that haven’t been listened to before was the best part for me. I learned that I could impact every person I interacted with. And with that understanding of my effect on people came a responsibility to do it right, to do things well, with all my energy and time dedicated to getting tasks done, organizing, loving, and making things better for the future.

One day, I was at the government hospital of Ngwelezane caring for two children we had recently gotten from the police, and I noticed another young child, a little girl, sitting in only a diaper in her cot, crying, looking hopeless and tired and restless. She was standing and trying to talk to me, she was 2 and 1/2 at the time, and she had no one with her, no one taking care of her. I started asking the nurses about her and they said her Gogo (grandmother) had just died and she was probably going into an orphanage. I immediately thought “she is coming home with us today” and I picked her up, and walked straight to the social work department, got her placed with Ikhaya, filled out paperwork, and took her home that day, on my hip, to new clothes, a bath, and she clung to me – and I knew that she was going to have a different life. We went back to the courts the next day – met with her father (who was unable to take care of her and unemployed and lived far away), and I remember feeling such incredible love for this child. She turned out to be such a special child, full of charm and personality, despite her many struggles and medical issues. I carry her in my heart every day.

Volunteering with iKhaya changes a person’s heart and life. However people are involved in Ikhaya, they instantly sense that feeling of welcoming and purpose – it is life changing!

Claire Jesse