Meeting a Need

It began in just one little room of a rural building on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa. In 2003 Seed of Hope founders Derek and Heather Liebenberg, along with a small core of volunteers, felt the call to respond to the mounting Aids crisis in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

At that time the HIV pandemic was widespread and mostly unchecked with medications still not yet widely available. Lives were being turned upside down and communities were in turmoil. Derek and Heather saw the impact on the children of the community and were led to launch an afternoon drop-in program for the kids who would otherwise be unattended and left alone at risk of drifting into mischief, gangs or other dangerous behavior.

The drop-in program focused on providing a fun space with life learnings – filled with songs, crafts, Bible lessons and life skills. Meeting an overwhelming need, the program soon grew to reach dozens of children who attended daily. What a blessing! And with a focus on caring for all the children as one community, the drop in children’s program was given a name – Simunye Time, meaning “we are one” in Zulu.

Samunye Time
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 Broadening our scope

In the following months the childrenʼs program grew to reach the needs of the greater community. Programs were developed to provide access of basic health care and education. An HIV-positive support group was established in the local community and a sewing class for unemployed women were established to reach the community from within.

With many deeply affected by the heartbreaking losses of the HIV pandemic, it was a time when hope was scarce in the community of Bhekulwandle. Our vision to equip local community members to overcome challenges was birthed through the experiences and resilience of these friends and neighbours.

A Partnership emerges

In 2005, John and Trish Pritchard, along with their family, came to Seed of Hope in South Africa for a 6 months trip to work alongside Derek and Heather. Their plan was to help run Seed of Hope. Life however took a dramatic turn from the plan. Seven weeks into the trip, Derek Liebenberg died of a massive heart attack. It was clear why God had called John and Trish to be in South Africa for such a time. Despite the tragedy, the local Seed of Hope staff and volunteers persevered in their faith and commitment to carry on the good works in serving this community. The next four months changed John and Trish’s lives and they knew something more was needed to be done upon their return to Canada.

HopeShares Canada was born and was quickly supported by a committed group of volunteers raising support and awareness of the work of Seed of Hope back in South Africa.

In 2007 Carl Waldron and his family moved to South Africa to build upon the Liebenberg’s foundation – to bring growth and a greater impact to Seed of Hope’s work over the years to come.

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Restoring a Community

Along the way, we developed a model of mentoring and training that equips people to be leaders by recognizing their God-given value and resources. People who experience restoration – physical, social, spiritual – turn into restorers of their community. 

As we have transitioned, new leaders like Kierra Ward (CEO, Seed of Hope) are working alongside Heather Liebenberg (Founder, Seed of Hope) and their team to seize new opportunities for impact. At the top of the list is the 1.6-hectare (4 acre) campus in Bhekulwandle that will allow new programs to strengthen families, improve livelihoods and develop leaders. Already, a transformation is taking place, and facilities are being equipped for an expanded sewing/craft program as well as a kitchen/bakery for training catering skills. 

Carl Waldron will continue working as Executive Director of HopeShares, mentoring our South African team as they grow. I’ll also be working to link new partners here in Canada to international development in a way that affirms the importance of building mutual relationships between people here and those across the world.