south of somewhere

Hi, our names are Sarah and Nathan Cooper. We are based in Sheffield in England, but are preparing to move to South Africa in September '06 to join a church planting team in the Western Cape. We hope that this blog will keep you up to date with our progress as we embark on this new adventure. Watch this space...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Introducing the People's Crafts

In 2006 the People's Church established a small card-making business, the People's Crafts, which has created employment for 3 members of the church, Poppy, Nadia and Irene. You can see Nadia in action making one of the cards. Regular employment is so difficult to find here, and when you add to that the fact that many people were unable to complete their education at secondary school, you have a large group of people who struggle to find work outside of the annual grape-picking season.

So for these three women, regular employment that they can rely on is such a life line for them and their families. In the last week, Nathan and I have started to help with the day to day running of the business. It had been a real need in the church after the previous managers finished their work with us at Christmas, so we were so pleased to know that we could help with something so necessary. You can see one of the cards in the pictures - they are really beautiful! There's a further 5 designs, all with an African 'flavour', that we sell at local tourist hot spots but also in the UK through our agents over there.

We'd like to ask you if you could get involved by placing the cards somewhere that they can be sold? May be on your desk at work, or at church? Can you think of anywhere else you could place them - at the doctor's surgery, a school reception, a bookshop or cafe? If you can help the People Crafts in this way, or if you would like a more active role in selling the cards, we'd love to hear from you! Just leave a comment on the blog with your contact details, or email us at . As the business grows our hope is that we can offer much-needed employment to many more of our friends over here.

Mobile Mallet Madness!

This week was Sarah's turn to lead the Wednesday afternoon sessions with the Mobile Ministry Unit. We're going through the 10 commandments and Sarah was given 'Don't misuse God's name'. So to help the kids understand the concept of names carrying meaning, the wonders of Mallet's Mallet were introduced to the Southern Hemisphere! (Do any of you Eighties kids remember that crazy program where the kids got whacked on the head with a mallet (inflatable, obviously) if they were too slow to think of related words?) So if you can spot a giant hammer in any of the pictures don't be alarmed!

The session went really well and the kids seem to love the mix of teaching, games and icepops. We really hope that as they get to understand the 10 commandments they will act as signposts to guide the kids in making wise decisions in their lives. When you go into the townships at 10 o clock at night and see 2 and 3 year olds wandering the streets (under the care of siblings only a couple of years older themselves) you start to realise how much guidance and boundaries these children need in their lives.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A week in the life of a youth-worker...

Last Friday night... Had the youth round for the Next Level meeting. Fun and games followed by small group time. One of the lads lets us know that his mum pulled a knife on him earlier in the week when he refused to give her money to buy drink. We need to arrange to meet him later in the week to see what he wants us to say to her. Another lad confides that his Dad has been knocking him around a bit this week.

Saturday afternoon... Invite 3 of the lads round to mow the lawn - we try to generate employment opportunities whenever we can, even if they are only very small scale at the moment. They seem to suffer from a bit of 'weed-blindness' but other than that, the bald square in the middle of the lawn, and the wonky edges, we were quite pleased with the job.

Sunday Morning... The youth are inviting the church to help them with an outreach to famillies they know who don't have enough food and clothing. The youth came up with a lot of the ideas themselves - a major breakthrough and something we were very proud of. The girl supposed to be doing the announcement bottles it and runs out of church before giving the announcement - something to work on next week!

Tuesday afternoon- Computer training lessons, starting with the adults and then later in the afternoon, 3 of the youth. They are doing really well and we have spotted a lot of potential in one of the girls, who we are really trying to encourage to stay at school and consider taking a further education course of some kind at college afterwards. Sabelo asks for help with a school project - we are very proud of him because just 2 moths ago he took the decision to drop out of school before graduating. We encouraged him to go back and he now seems to be taking it seriously and enjoying it.

Wednesday - Childrens' outreach in the new Mobile Ministry unit. Another crazy afternoon in the heat but reaching many precious kids. They love the songs and games - so do we, despite the exhaustion afterwards! Meet with the youth who help us out and start planning the muppet show for next week.

Thursday - Meet another member of the youth group to plan a CV for her. She currently works selling drink from her parent's home, and we are hoping she will find a job of her own at the age of 21. She left school in year 9 (3rd year at High School) but by looking at all her work with the church it was an encouraging afternoon showing her all the things she can do. Encourage her that it was the right decision to break off a relationship with her boyfriend who is taking drugs and pressurising her. Talk about HIV awareness - since the New Year there has been a big campaign on television - "Say No till we know", which is helping to raise awareness of this killer disease.

Friday - We'll be picking up 4 of the youth this afternoon to make sandwiches for this evening's homeless outreach - the first time that we have done this with the youth. It will be an exciting evening - we'll fall into bed about midnight, after dropping the kids home and unwinding - tired but knowing that there's lots of good stuff going on.

PS somewhere between all of this is when we plan the discipleship course, 2 sermons coming up later this month, sunday school planning and team meetings - and sleep! it's busy but wonderful!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Going mobile...

Hello from a hot and sticky Worcester. Sorry it's been a while since we actually published anything about our work. I guess we've been too busy working! Anyway, last week saw the start of a new venture for The People's Church, the Mobile Ministry Unit(otherwise known as 'Big Bird'). With this purpose-built trailor we were able to take our weekly kids program in to two townships for one hour of games, songs, quizzes and ice pops. It's exciting that we can go to where the children are, rather than waiting for them to come to us... and they came in their hundreds.

Nathan's parents also returned home last week after a great month with us, seeing what we're up to and falling in love with this beautiful country. So we're readjusting to a quiet house again. Keep your comments coming. We love to hear from you whereever you are. Right then, back to work.