Today, before the older kids got home from school, I had a moment to spend time with Makaphutu’s three youngest residents. Nothing out of the ordinary—some jumping around in the grass, kicking around a ball and (of course) some hugs.

It started with Mpho, famous for throwing her arms up with abandon at any passerby. I scooped her up, and she instantly wrapped her little arms around my neck, gave me a kiss on the cheek and rested her head on my shoulder.

We rocked back and forth like this for a minute until Siyanda, never wanting to be left out, started tugging on my shirt. I set Mpho down, who jumped in a circle still giddy from the hug, and I lifted Siyanda for his turn.

I set him down, and the two pushed Kabelo forward, insisting he receive a turn as well. But the moment I finished and set him down, Mpho’s little arms shot up again, and the others formed a line behind her.

Oops. We cycled through the hugs several times, each one a little better than the last until we were all belly laughing.

I’m having trouble putting my finger on the reason why, but my everyday experiences at Makaphutu leave me elated rather than happy.

I feel present, joyful and full of compassion to share. But at the same time, the truths I learn nearly every day shake me.

More than Sad

The children at Makaphutu come from a variety of “backgrounds”, “circumstances”, and “situations”. I’m so accustomed to hearing these words that they don’t carry the weight they should.

Each one of Makaphutu’s children has a unique history.

In my mind, the translation carries the message, “It’s not for you to know,” so I don’t ask.

But after two months, I’ve heard a lot—and the stories aren’t sad, they’re horrific.

“Situations” doesn’t prepare you to hear stories of children living alone on the streets. “Backgrounds” doesn’t prepare you for stories of abuse and neglect of toddlers. “Circumstances” doesn’t prepare you for stories of rape—sometimes by family members—of young children.

Behind each of the beautiful smiles of these children, lies a story of some level of trauma. Some “situation” landed each child here in this orphanage—many of which stretch beyond abandonment or death of a parent.

These aren’t details we like to dwell on (rightfully so), but they are important to understanding why Makaphutu exists.

This place is not only for raising children, but for healing them.

Creating a Culture

Makaphutu volunteer, Isaiah, assisting one of the treasured children.

“We want to create a place so full of love, to create a culture of nurture, so that even when a new child just arrives, they’re instantly embraced by it,” emphasizes Nic Addison, director of Makaphutu.

Since coming to Makaphutu one year ago, Nic and his wife Melissa have worked tirelessly toward that goal. They spend time with the children individually, hold daily devotionals with the house moms and pour themselves into every aspect of Makaphutu.

Nmbuso, a Makaphutu social worker, and Zandile, the office assistant, similarly commit themselves to the well-being of the children. The staff set a high standard for the many short and long-term volunteers who move through Makaphutu.

And with as much chaos as there is on a daily basis through the office, they all find the time each morning (well, maybe not until noon—but they find it!) to sit for a devotional and prayer, seeking the Divine counsel and strength that makes running a place like Makaphutu possible.

Irreplaceable

The more I see, the more I understand the irreplaceable role of God here.

It’s true that Nmbuso’s training in social work has equipped her with skills to help a child process past abuse, but it’s her open-mindedness and grace that allow children to open up to her.

Makaphutu creates a place where children can grow emotionally, spiritually and physically in safety.

Nic may be skilled in management and finance, but his humbleness and trust in God helps him make wise decisions for Makaphutu.

The work here is not of this world, and the result is a space of love that transcends the suffering endured by so many of these children. The staff does not face these situations alone.

Emily, Nic and Melissa’s daughter who is a part of the Makaphutu family, recently shed some light on this topic for me:

Jesus has been with them in their suffering. I know that when I enter that space, I’m stepping into Jesus’ compassion for that person that already exists. I’m able to be a part of that.

Not of Humans

Each beloved child of God receives the extent of human compassion from the Makaphutu staff, and the rest from Jesus.

That compassion is becoming clearer and clearer to me. For no logical reason, being around brokenness isn’t draining me—it’s filling me. Daily, I hear more about some tragic, borderline despicable “situations,” but this place holds no less joy.

There’s an intangible presence here. There’s a reason hugs fill my eyes with happy tears. My compassion is melting into the much larger, more powerful and redemptive love Jesus is pouring out.

Thinking about the incomprehensible brokenness surrounding me and seeing the simultaneous joy and life—from the exciting to the mundane—in the Makaphutu children, I’m awed.

I think this can’t be the work of humans alone, but nonetheless, I’m humbled to know people who are gathered together with limited resources, powerful compassion and dozens of broken children saying, “Well God…do your thing!”

The result—while not without challenges—is sacred. I’m learning the strength and frailty of my human compassion—how far it reaches and where it falls short. It’s not my compassion or any human compassion that restores broken children.

It’s Divine love, encompassing our own, that truly heals at Makaphutu.

Enjoy this post? Get future updates sent to you for free! Join by email or RSS

Next Steps
    • Say a prayer for Jesus’ healing over the lives of the children at Makaphutu. Pray they grow up loved, nurtured and aware of how truly special they are. Pray for the staff who mentor and love them.
    • Interested in supporting LSA? They make healing places like Makaphutu possible. Learn more about them and consider donating. Be a part of this incredible work!
    • Have you ever suffered “compassion fatigue?” Think about a situation in your life where compassion seems to be draining rather than filling you. Now reflect on Jesus’ presence in the situation—focus on being part of that healing rather than taking sole responsibility.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Laura is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson with a degree in Animal Sciences and a minor in Spanish. She is constantly learning, making friends, dancing, and trying to understand her role in alleviating the suffering of others. Laura also attracts a lot of awkward situations.

More posts by Follow Laura on Twitter


Comments

  1. Sharon said... 

    Reply

    August 2nd, 2012 at 4:47 pm  

    “We want to create a place so full of love, to create a culture of nurture, so that even when a new child just arrives, they’re instantly embraced by it,”

    Love the whole article and this quote in particular. What a wonderful description of how the family of God should be!

    • Laura Stump said... 

      Reply

      August 3rd, 2012 at 6:26 pm  

      Thanks Sharon. It’s amazing how looking at plans, budgets and statistics are used almost exclusively to sum up the effectiveness of a ministry or organization when things like a “culture of nurture” are so important! Makaphutu is definitely one of those places that has the necessary “x” factor to really care for children.

  2. Lori Rosenbauer said... 

    Reply

    August 4th, 2012 at 3:04 pm  

    Thank you Laura for writing this way. Our family is in the process of support raising for a full time position as house parents at Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, Makaphutu’s sister village. We have been anxious to share stories behind the statistics. You have articulated beautifully what we desire to express.

    • Laura Stump said... 

      Reply

      August 4th, 2012 at 5:02 pm  

      Hello Lori! What a WONDERFUL endeavor! Lily of the Valley is such a wonderful place. I’m ecstatic to hear about what you’re doing.

      It’s a blessing to share these stories!

Leave a Reply