The company I work for is amazing. @chghealthcare has a one-of-a-kind-culture, believes in their leadership and employees, creates community services and the desire to help others is outstanding. I was nominated for a new initiative called, Difference Makers. This nomination is for employees who go out of there way to help others and really make a difference in the community/anywhere. Out of 50+ nominees, I was fortunate enough to be one of the final 13! I was nominated for our precious Tembisa Tots! A small orphanage in Tembisa, South Africa I fundraise for and am in constant communication with. For the past four and a half years I’ve been fundraising and working with many people to help Mama and the 12-20 children she calls her own. There’s been wonderful changes and continue to be with the help of many from all over the world. The four finalists will be announced in February and will travel to Kenya in August with our CEO and others to help at a local school and community! The photo I’ve posted is a small but very impactful gift from our CEO, Scott Beck. I was given this rafiki (meaning friend in Swahili) bracelet that was hand made by a Kenyan woman. I am honored and thrilled to be a nominee and recognized for my Tembisa family ol that I hold close to my heart. Please visit http://www.tembisatots.wordpress.com to learn more about Mama and the Tembisa Tots. #chghealthcare #differencemakers #kenya #change #blessed #southafrica #africa #tembisa #tembisatots #give #rafiki #friend #thankful
We were lucky enough to take a photo of my parents, my daughter and me and have it delivered to Mama back in South Africa.
Dominic and his family went to visit the orphanage the day after they returned home from the States. They checked in with Mama and the kids and gave her our photo. She is doing well and is smiling from ear to ear.
The community has really stepped up and providing for Mama and the kids. Food vendors, neighbors, schools, and even local businesses are chipping in when and where they can. I think with the updates and progression, many people are more willing to help Mama.
They still struggle with day to day living, but they have many more helping hands surrounding them. We love and miss you Mama!
I find myself thinking of the small orphanage I have learned to love over the past couple of years every day. Whether it’s in the early morning while I lay in my warm, cozy bed, or at lunch time while I eat in a local shop knowing I will be fully stasistified after my meal. Or at night when I help my daughter get ready for bed; turning on the warm water and helping her brush her hair and teeth.
My South African little family is living such a different life than I. How I wish I could drive down the street and check on them. Help them with every day tasks and especially be there to love and hug them.
Reminiscing about the first time I saw their faces and met them brings a smile to my face. It’s been such a blessing to help them and watch them grow through photos, emails, and occassional phone conversations!
This was the first time meeting Mama. We met December 2011. I can’t believe it’s been three years since I first went to Tembisa, South Africa. She is as gentle as an angel. Her warmth and love just radiats. Her smile is inviting and her energy is contagious. I am so happy to know this woman.
These children hold a special place in my heart. This is Mbali. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her photo. Her mother had given her to the orphange when she was about 3 months old. Her grandmother takes care of her when she can but Mbali had spent a lot of time with Mama. When I held her for the first time, we instantly bonded. She stared at my face and touched my mouth as I told her how beautiful she was. It broke my heart knowing that she was left with Mama and her little future is undetermined.
I was able to see Mbali a few more times during my visit. The second time I went to South Africa Mbali was with her grandma and they had moved to a different township. I still wonder how this darling little one is doing. If her mother ever came back into her life. If her grandmother will be able to take care of her, provide for her, educate her, and help her create a successful future. So many questions… not only are these questions about Mbali, but questions I have for every single one of the kids at the orphanage.
Over the last three years there has been much work at the orphanage. Conditions were so poor when I fist visited and with so many loving people, donations, hard work and dedication we have been able to help Mama turn her home into a safer and better environment for raising these children.
Not only has the appearance of the orphanage change dramtically, but we have been able to build additional aminities! A small building was built for a library! The garden has been re-done and is now flurished and helps bring in fresh food for Mama and the kids. Secure doors, flood lights for the evening, cabniets for the kids, and many visitors who keep Mama and the kids smiling and healthy.
Every once and awhile I am able to hear Mama’s voice and her laugh over the phone. My dear friends Dominic and his lovely wife Moipone are my eyes, hands, ears, and heart while I live here in the United States and they are close to Mama and the kids. I have feared that Mama would soon forget me and my love for her and the kids, but I am lucky and she still asks about me, wants me to visit, and asks Dominic and Moipone about me and my daughter each time they visit. I just adore her and pray for her every single day.
Right now, Mama wants to build a three story building. She has a certificate from the planning commission giving her the okay. She also had drawings to renovate making private bedrooms. We hope a local construction company is helping her and will allow her to get government certification with funding.
There are still things we are working on. I keep in touch with Mama and her needs often. It’s my goal to go back and visit her and the kids. Currently she has 19 children to care for and love. They range from one year to sixteen years old. Mama is now 69 years old and doing a job that would be difficult for a young woman. She is surely being watched over and able to care for these children who depend on her so much.
Welcome twenty-fourteen! I pray that this year is as fruitful and blessed as twenty-thirteen was for Mama and the tots. They were able to have so many wonderful things happen and many new friends have helped make it happen.
A new library, new Samsung washing machine, more donations, new cabinets, new sewing machine for Mama, a prosperous garden, and many other wonderful things.
Mama has taken in more children for a total of 23 children, including a couple babies under the age of 23 What a remarkable woman. She is surly blessed and watched over on a daily basis.
Elder and Sister DaBell, along with Moipone and the kids went and celebrated Christmas with Mama and the tots. They were able to take some food staples, flip flops, and soon backpacks! (pictures coming soon)
On Saturday, Feb. 16, our dear friends in South Africa gathered to honor Mama’s son, Philip. One of the couple missionaries, Elder and Sister DaBell shared a sweet message to those who attended. Thank you to everyone who went and supported Mama during this difficult time. Below are the remarks Elder DaBell shared.
“My dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish I could both understand and speak Zulu. The Spirit is strong today and we have been inspired by the speakers and the music. It is an honor to be with you this morning. I want to pay tribute to Regina Sekgobela, whom we affectionately call “Mama” and her son, Phillip.
Sister DaBell and I are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We come to South Africa from the western United States. One of the first places we visited back in August after arriving here was Mama and her orphanage. I represent many Senior Couples who have visited and served at the Orphanage. In particular I represent and bring the love of the Savages: Elder and Sister Savage and their daughter Sindee who love Mama and her children and did much to bring love and cheer to the orphanage. I also bring the love of the Bassos who are in Lesotho or they would be here today.
Mama, we love you and we honor your son!
Sometimes Mama has given me a hug and said: “you are my son”. Even though she is only 2 years older than me, I honor Mama as a valiant mother and I know she loves her son.
May I testify that her son still lives today. In the Bible we can read: John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jesus Christ died for all mankind and was resurrected the third day. All of us will die, but we will all be resurrected one day and live forever. Families can be together forever. God loves all of His children. He loves you and He loves me. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ,
Here is a short video of my first visit with these beautiful children. They’ll steal your hearts!