“We all know what AIDS stands for: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. But we have adopted a different acronym for AIDS: Am I Doing Something? What are you doing about AIDS? How are you changing your world? When you die, what difference will you have made to those who suffer, to children in pain, to those who need you?” -Derek Liebenberg, Seed of Hope Centre Founder, January 2005
Two things were readily apparent to Derek and Heather Liebenberg when they started the work of the Seed of Hope Centre in 2003. As they surveyed the Bhekulwandle community, with its backyard gravestones and the throngs of children walking home each night to someone other than a mother or father, the awful cost of the AIDS pandemic gripped them. Just as clear to them was the conviction that to call oneself a follower of Jesus, while turning away from the distress of widows, orphans and the poor, was impossible.
Their unfolding vision – more an irresistible, blazing fire than a fully framed plan – drew others to this work. Some walked across the road to join them; others crossed an ocean, while so many more prayed and gave funds that launched each stage of the Centre’s growth. For many of us, it has been life-changing. The intervening years have brought us the sorrow of Derek’s death in late 2005 and the joy (tinged with heartache) four months later at the arrival of his and Heather’s son, Caleb. The Centre’s once decrepit and misused buildings have been restored and converted into a place where a community experiences the transforming power of education, health care and skills training. Faces at the Centre have changed as we’ve grown, bringing passion and leadership to new initiatives and answering Derek’s challenge, “What difference will you have made?”
Next year HopeShares will join in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Seed of Hope Centre’s founding. If it’s true that people and organizations can reach a “tipping point,” when the cumulative impact of prolonged, consistent effort and faith begins accelerating, then we sense we’re on the verge of something great in Bhekulwandle.
Our teenage student leaders are teaching lessons they learned from us to their peers at school. Unemployed women are becoming self-employed seamstresses. Young and old alike are learning to grow food for their families and for profit. We are building bridges between Zulu and non-Zulu church leaders in our community. The stigma and fear of HIV/AIDS is being replaced by hope, openness and the promise of health and life.
As we prepare to begin our tenth year, I would like to thank each of you for making a difference to Bhekulwandle. Please know that your continued prayer and generous support is the answer to the question, “Am I doing something?”
CEO, Seed of Hope