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February 2016


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The end of the year has come and gone so quickly, and already we are near the end of February – where has the time gone?  There were many exciting things happening at Tabitha in December which we would like to share with you.
We held an Open Day with a Christmas Market and Carols by Candlelight on the 5th of December.  In the week before the market, the Hope Centre was abuzz with the excitement of the children as they were all going to be a part of this event.  They worked hard at cleaning up the Centre, making goodies to sell, helping with the planning and set up of the games.  We were lucky to have several wonderful volunteers helping to arrange the event and be there on the day to provide extra sets of hands wherever needed – thank you all so much.
There were loads of wonderful things for sale, handmade crafts, charms, jewellery, delicious food and drink, and of course – the much anticipated games!  There were skittles, sort of ‘Jukskei’, Velcro Darts, Fishing, etc.  Each child was given tickets to the value of R50 to spend as they chose.  The games were a big part of the spending, with lots of lovely prizes won by all.  No prizes for guessing how the rest of the tickets were spent – yummy food, drink and sweets – a real treat.  Having the tickets, and spending them, was also a valuable life lesson for the children.

It was so interesting to see how each child chose to spend their money.  Some spent most of their money on the games, winning prizes, whilst others delighted in the food side of things.  Some spent their money very quickly, others made it last – observing how the others were doing at the games – it was wonderful just to step back and watch all this in action.  Many of the children – mainly the boys – were extremely skilful in playing the games and winning good prizes.  Lots of good sportsmen and women in the making.

The day ended with the singing of Christmas Carols.  We had made safe candle holders with empty plastic cool drink bottles and these were handed out to each child, with adults supervising and being on standby should any of the candles begin to droop (to say nothing of us adults drooping with all the excitement of the day!).  To see all the children with their little lights shining and singing Christmas Carols, gave me goose bumps.  They sang with such joy and enthusiasm and we have never seen such an active rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” complete with appropriate facial expressions!  Their voices were so sweet and pure, and took us back to when we were growing up and had no fancy entertainment as is available nowadays – just enjoying singing Christmas Carols and believing in the magic of Christmas and the story of baby Jesus – simple pleasures.  Little Seth got up and sang “Jesus Loves Me” which everyone was most impressed by considering his challenges in his short life – what a sweet boy.

An unexpected surprise in the form of a monster size cake was delivered during the Christmas Carols by the kind ladies of Cosatu who were celebrating their 30th birthday.  A lot of these ladies also form part of the South African Police, so it was a double treat to have them talk to the children, and hand out cake.  Sincere thanks to these ladies who gave up their time to be generous and consider the children of Tabitha.

Another new initiative of Tabitha by Director, Gail Trollip, was to try and incorporate the older children into host families for Christmas to experience a different part of family life.  Needless to say, when the children found out they were going on such an exciting trip, there were many sleepless nights, and my sympathies went out to all the staff at Tabitha for having to deal with these children ‘jumping out of their skin’.  Some of the children went to families as far away as Johannesburg.  Siya and Cebo have been going to Johannesburg in school holidays for a few years now, but for the others who have never been away from Tabitha, it must have been very interesting!  These are some of the stories from the host families:

We hosted Siya and Cebo, as usual – but had Brian and Bonga joined them for Christmas.  The new kids on the block settled in very well after the initial shock of having 16 dogs around them, to say nothing of the horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, cat and a tortoise!  They coped really well with everything.  They each had a turn to ride one of the horses (Siya and Cebo showed the new boys how to do it!), they swam in the pool playing volleyball and soccer, went to see the Lipizzaner Horses Christmas Carol performance, and met up with other family and friends of the Taylors.  John also took the boys out cycling almost every day, so everyone was suitably tired and relaxed by the evening.  Usually after dinner, we would either watch a movie or play a board game – the boys are very competitive.  At Christmas time, we always play ‘Silly Santa’ with Christmas presents and this was a heap of fun with everyone ‘stealing’ everyone else’s presents and generally teasing everyone and having fun.  I confess to eavesdropping on the boys playing in the pool, role playing and putting on all sorts of voices depending on the characters they were representing – such fun.  What we learned from this experience is that … boys can eat!!!  Seriously, though, having children sort of ‘forces’ you to have fun – they get you to join in the games and before you know it, you are as childlike as they are.  We probably all need to take time out to do things with children – you have no choice but to laugh and relax!

Special Blessings with Tabitha Girls over Christmas
What an honour and special blessing for Gail and her team to entrust us with four of their girls over the Christmas period. Thobile, Thobeka, Sammy and Amanda….. We enjoyed every minute of our time with you, the fun & games began in the car ride up to Jo’burg singing crazy songs….
So many special memories were made…making their own stockings to hang up for Father Christmas, to the joy and delight on their faces when they woke up on Christmas morning to find Father Christmas had visited! 
Lazy days by the pool proved to be the favourite, if they could spend all day in the pool they would have…
They loved helping Tarryn bake & helped prepare desserts for Christmas lunch, we had our own pizza making evening, & Mike had very own braai assistant. Even in the rain! 
Four very different little personalities who crept into our hearts & our family, we truly had the most special time with them, can’t wait to enjoy many more special visits ….

On 23 December we set off to Tabitha to collect Nqobile and Moppie.  What excitement as they waited to be collected by their host family all ready and packed.
Nqobile wants to be a baker when he grows up and so maybe there was a bit of strategizing – he came to the caterer’s house.  On arriving home and being shown to their room and unpacking, Nqobile hands me a very crumpled cooking magazine – his cook book.  The next day we went shopping for a book and covered it and named it “Nqobile’s Recipe Book”.  What excitement. He wrote his first recipe in it for the cookies we baked that afternoon for Santa and for our picnic the planned for the following day.
At the end of the day we had two tired boys ready for bed.  Cookies and milk set out for Santa and off to bed hoping that Santa remembered they were visiting and not at Tabitha.
Back home it was time to start Christmas lunch.  The boys set the table and were eager to see how the cooking was progressing by peeping every few minutes.  Christmas Carols were sung, Christmas story told, Christmas hats on and crackers popped, it was lunch time. 
With full tummies we all crashed on the couch and the boys put on a dvd and played with their toys.  Off to bed tired but happy boys.
A surprise visit from Colin with seven boys was a most welcome break as the adults sat and had a cuppa and the boy chatted over Nqobile’s biscuits and hot chocolate.  
Sunday was a bit sad, it’s the last day of visiting.  Off to church, then home to play and swim and lunch.  Dropped exhausted boys back at Tabitha hoping they could repeat it all again next year.
Christmas with 3 wonderful Tabitha boys
When Vanessa put her request for taking in a few kids from Tabitha for the Christmas holidays, we immediately were looking forward to spending a family Christmas, having no children of our own, and living far from our own dear families in the Netherlands.
In December, we visited the Christmas market and met “our” boys: Banele, Nzuzo and Seth shortly, not knowing then they already knew they were coming for Christmas with us ;-).
Picking them up on the 23rd was huge excitement on both sides, but also meant big tears for Seth, hearing that we have 2 dogs at home. He being spastic means he’s not confident to move around them, so the first day he stayed inside the house while Afke took the big boys for a walk in the forest. Cooking dinner, Seth fell asleep on my back, exhausted from all the impressions ;-). From then on, the ice was broken and Christmas time could start properly.
What wonderful time we had with 3 confident, open, well behaved (making their beds, washing faces in the morning, bringing empty plates to the kitchen) and enthusiastic kids. Everything was an adventure: swimming in the pool,
Making pizza,  helping in the garden, exploring a hidden house up Fernridge Forest, fishing with homemade rods at Boulder Dam, decorating the Christmas tree
and baking cookies for the kids in Grey’s Hospital (at 39 degrees the dough was behaving slightly different then in European winters…).
Nzuzo showed his special skills, backflipping around the Boulder Dam, amazing! Unfortunately, a newsletter does not take movies...
Father Christmas came during the night and delivered some true boy’s presents: endless playing on a rainy day.
At 11, we set off with our home made band to sing Christmas songs and bring Christmas cookies in the paediatric wards in Grey’s Hospital, where Afke works. Repertoire was “We wish you a merry Christmas” and “Silent Night”. Banele on rhythm, Seth and Nzuzo on strings, Afke the lead vocals and Liesbeth on keys. Banele doubling up as a walking music stand ;-). Lovely to see them bringing warmth and joy to all faces in the ward, young and old. Seth stole the show with his final chords!

We were invited to have a Christmas braai at the house of Dutch friends with two children 8 and 10. More Lego, hesitant English conversations by the Dutchies, more music and lovely food with marshmallows for dessert.
On Boxing Day it was still raining, so we went out to the forest again, the boys driving the car on Afke’s lap. Great excitement and a broken windscreen wiper ;-). Later we played Uno, watched the Chronicles of Narnia and had the leftovers of a copious Christmas meal.
On Sunday, the weather was perfect again, and the boys helped in the veggie garden, had endless fun in the pool, learnt to dive and use a snorkel, and were playing with the dogs. Even Seth was comfortable with them after a few days of having the “teddies” around (Bunny invented this to reduce Seth’s fear: calling the dogs “teddies” was a great solution!).
After lunch it was time to pack and go back home, sharing stories, handing in dirty laundry and showing off presents. Tears and a sad moment, but also happy to be back home!
Thanks boys, Banele, Nzuzo and Seth, for having a lovely Christmas: for being you, for sleeping in 1 bed together while there were 3, for being good eaters, for saying grace before meals, for your laughter and excitement and humour, for wearing a tie on Christmas Day, for asking honest questions about us and our work and about being in South Africa, for being so fond of mama Gail, for all the adventures we shared, for mixing easily with adults and kids, for asking politely, for being a big brother to Seth, for letting us sleep in, for sparkly eyes, for falling asleep on our lap, for showing me the slo-mo setting on the phone, and for all the other little things that you brought to our house.
The dogs were exhausted afterwards ;-)
Lots of love from your Christmas family,
Afke & Elisabeth

Nokwanda and Luyanda joined me in my home on the Wednesday and the first thing we did together was decorate the tree for Christmas.  They did a beautiful job and it got them busy whilst getting used to my home, the food and DOGS!  That took a bit of time but they were happy to pat the little Maltese by the time they left.  The Labrador was more intimidating!
Great celebrations as the next day was their birthday and they were made to feel special by sharing cake with their friends.  The girls were helpful where they could be and also took care of their belongings.  Medications were so well set out it was easy to have these two girls stay.
We had fun swimming together and going to the Christmas service.  We hosted Christmas lunch and they helped lay out the table and crackers for a houseful – in rainy weather.  The girls played with my grandchildren and visitors on Family Day in Cato Ridge area.  It was a “long way”.  A family member commented “they seem happy children”.
Highlights- The Christmas food;  Impromptu fashion show of the new outfits;  Painting my nails;  Dancing and singing to CD’s;  Goodnight prayers
It was a privilege to share in the lives of the girls for this time.


My dear Friends,
This mail comes to you with much love and blessings to each one of you and your family and all the friends of Tabitha, to thank you for your kindness and support throughout the year.  If it were not for people like yourselves who pray for us, support us generally, we would not be able to reach so many destitute people.
We are moving into a new season, this was the first Christmas that we have not been overrun with babies and bottles.  All our little ones that are chattering like magpies are starting Grade RR in 2016.  I must admit, it’s very strange not to have the sound of having a laughing baby coming out of the rooms.
Another first is that 28 of our older children will be going out for Christmas between 5 to 10 days and this has caused enormous excitement.  One just becomes aware as we have been preparing the children for their holiday that they are not streetwise so we have spent a lot of time in teaching them the do’s and don’ts.  We really are hoping for a happy time for each and every one of them as the folk that are taking them are really lovely Christian people.
This mail comes to you with much love for a happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year.  May you be richly blessed during this happy season.
Love and Blessings from all of us at Tabitha

2016 brought the onset of a new school year and 8 more children from Tabitha have now been enrolled at Gateway School.  They look so smart and proud in their new school uniforms.  We hope they enjoy this new experience.

• Funding for the upkeep of Tabitha Ministries
• Health for children and staff
• School funding as 8 children have been accepted into Gateway Christian School for 2016
• Food for the Hope Centre and the Community Centre
• Committed volunteers to assist with a variety of tasks with the children
• For God’s blessings upon Tabitha Ministries & all their supporters


  • School Funding – Ongoing assistance with school fees
  • Warm Clothing (new or ‘pre-owned’– winter will be approaching soon and warm clothes would be greatly appreciated  The Tabitha Treasures range in age from 4 to 14.  Shoes are always welcomed, as our happy children play hard!  Cash donations, or vouchers for various shops would be so appreciated.
  • DVD Player & Old VHS Player (yes, we really mean it!).  The kids always enjoy movies, and in rainy weather, this is a great way for them to spend their free time.
  • Responsible Drivers – we are always in need of people to assist with driving our children to their various activities.
  • Volunteers – we are always looking for suitable volunteers with a passion and compassion for children – to help out at Tabitha in various ways.  Whether it be playing with the children, teaching them a new skill, assisting with lifts to and from activities, fund raising, donations, assisting with light duties at the Hope Centre.  Perhaps you know of people able to help with extra schooling subjects, people offering demonstrations for various activities, outings, contacts for sports coaching, hobbies, etc.  We would love to hear from you.  Please contact Gail Trollip if you are interested.
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