Stories of Hope: When hunger paves the way to hope

Thembisa Dlamkile

‘If you invite God in everything that you do, everything is possible,’ says Thembisa Dlamkile. This has been her story since joining Living Hope….

Thembisa was faced with a hopeless situation when her husband lost his job before the 2021 lockdown. They were certainly not alone in their dilemma as South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021, surging to the highest on a global list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg. 

With Thembisa being a stay-at-home-mom to their three children, it meant that soon there were no means for even the basics. One morning Thembisa gathered her small backpack and headed for Living Hope’s centre in Capri on the Cape Peninsula. There she met up with the pastor who invited her in, made sure she had a meal and was given information about a soup kitchen in Masiphumelele where they live. To her surprise, Thembisa was also invited to apply for a position as a book sharing facilitator. 

Living Hope is a Christian ministry in Cape Town and East London that brings hope and aims to break the despair of poverty and disease in underresourced, underserved communities. 

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“The pastor drove through the entire Masiphumelele to find me and take me to the interview! I remember being so nervous — there were close to 20 people for the interview and everybody looked so smart. I kept wondering if I was going to make it, but decided to just give it a try,” recalls Thembisa.

After a successful interview, she joined Living Hope’s family-strengthening team which seeks to build resilience in children and families through the provision of early intervention services, gender-based violence and trauma care, counselling, as well as advocacy for vulnerable children. 

In a short time Thembisa was promoted twice. “You know, God is so good! I went from a book sharing facilitator to book sharing supervisor within the space of two weeks. Perhaps it’s because I talk so much,” she laughs. Today Thembisa works as the coordinator of both the book-sharing programme as well as the antenatal programme.

The book-sharing programme is designed so that even parents or guardians who can’t read can enjoy books with their children. The books purposefully do not have words so that the children can use their imagination and tell their parents or guardians a story based on the pictures in the book. This also helps improve their language skills. 

The antenatal programme’s purpose is to support pregnant women — some of them first-time mothers and also those who didn’t necessarily want to fall pregnant, but now need support and advice.

“We have had a lot of positive feedback from our clients — both from the book-sharing and the antenatal classes,” says Thembisa. “We bring hope and offer amazing support that many of us didn’t have when we fell pregnant many years ago.”

Apart from family strengthening, Living Hope offers a healthcare programme where they compassionately support the dignity and health of people through integrated home-and-community-based services, support groups, a healthcare centre, and clinic-based counselling. In the substance-abuse recovery programme, they utilise Christian principles to help break the chains of addictions, holistically transforming people’s habits, lives and families. The life skills programme focuses on teaching values for right living to all children and teens, while the Way to Work programme and the job centre empower unemployed people. Finally, Living Hope’s agricultural training helps people earn their way out of poverty through a practical agricultural and business training programme. 

“Everything has changed. My life is so much better, even though we are still trusting for a job for my husband,” concludes Thembisa. 

Living Hope has grown and matured from a fledgling local church ministry to a complex, multi-faceted organisation that employs over 200 staff, mobilises hundreds of volunteers and now reaches over 100 000 people annually. 

Find out more about the work of Living Hope here: 

Stories of Hope is brought to you by the Mergon Foundation, a resource partner to ministries who expand God’s Kingdom and bring hope and restoration to communities across Africa and the Middle East.

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