for Adventist Review
This is a story about unsung heroes.
Meet an amazing team of four Seventh-day Adventist women who care for 50 orphans and other at-risk children under the age of 5 in Botswana.
Lindy Leburu is the principal of the "Place of Hope" daycare center in Manyana, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Garborone, the African country’s capital. Every day she and her team give the little preschoolers three meals, clothe them, wash them, educate and love them.
The children are brought to the center in the early morning and stay there until late to enable their guardians and school-age siblings to attend school.
“This method of caring for the orphans enables the children to stay in their homes, live with their guardians, brothers and sisters, and enjoy a safe, loving environment each day with their Adventist ‘mothers,’”Leburu said.
Many of the children have lost their parents to AIDS.
The daycare women grow some of their food and have some avenues of funding locally, but they rely greatly on individuals who support their “family” with gifts of time, expertise, and cash. Some church and family groups have flown to Botswana to build classrooms, improve playgrounds, and provide teaching resources.
Leburu, the principal, is an orphan and understands the value of having a safe haven for children. Her big heart is shared with her 50 day-care children plus her own two grandchildren and an aunt who lives onsite with her.
She is full of love, full of smiles and clearly loves what she is doing.
Kenneth Williams, member of the Broadhurst Adventist Church in Gaborone, is another unsung hero of the daycare center.
Williams and his wife, Susan, who serves as full-time volunteer women’s ministries director, have coordinated the visits of the daycare’s supporters, built five daycare centers, unpacked containers, played with the children, coordinated clothing distribution throughout Botswana, and filled the role of parents and grandparents to many children.
Williams has even made over 25,000 soil blocks from local soil to build classrooms, a dormitory, an administration building, a kitchen, and a dining hall in the town of Thamaga, where a second daycare center will open soon.
“My wife and I are not looking for accolades,” Williams said Tuesday. “We are passionate about our ministry and love it.”
He added: “We welcome the many volunteer groups that join with us to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these orphans. We give all praise to God.”
These unsung heroes are also living examples of “One Member, One Soul,” an initiative in which each of the 3.4 million members of the Adventist Church’s Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division are challenged to lead one person to Christ every year, said Kenaope Kenaope, president of the Botswana Union Conference, which is part of the division.
“Kenneth and Lindy are just two of the hundreds of thousands of our loving church members in Botswana reaching out to a community in need,” Kenaope said. “It is our prayer that every church member will reach out to at least one person for Jesus every year, and in doing so bless the community and improve the nation.”
Manyana children jumping on a trampoline on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. In the background is the center that Kenneth Williams and his wife helped build with the help of their son and many church members from Australia, the United States, and other places around the world. Video: Joanne Ratsara