The region that we visited is called the Transkei. It was one of the 10 tribal homelands that SA was divided into during Apartheid. It was a "dumping ground" for Xhosa people that the white people did not want in the cities. It still is one of the most uneducated, impoverished areas of SA.
We were able to see a few types of ministries dedicated to feeding children up close from the "other side." We observed the benefits and challenges that Daniel and Kristi face in trying to feed kids in the most reliable, consistent way possible without giving handouts and stripping the people of their dignity. They constantly ask themselves how they can help people to learn to feed themselves and become self-sustaining without trying to "americanize" them.
One of the villages we visited, called Bukwini, has a child sponsorship partnership with a church in the States. The council maintains a list of needy children and families and prioritizes the "most" needy when a new sponsor becomes available. The money provides a monthly food parcel with basic like milk, mealie, oil, sugar, etc. as well as clothing for school. We visited on a day when the food was being delivered, sorted into parcels, and distributed to the guardian of the child that is being sponsored. There are challenges, though, like having to say "no" to giving away food on a whim (food depends on the number of sponsors) and knowing that once the food is distributed there is not a guarantee that it will go where it is supposed to go. It was good for us to see these challenges up close.
We also visited a village where Daniel and Kristi have helped a woman to run a daycare. At this daycare, Mama Christina is able to feed kids two healthy meals a day, store their school clothes and shoes in cubbies to keep them in good shape for longer, and teach the children. Mama Christina was recently trained on how to keep a garden and now she is teaching her daycare kids to do the same so that they will have this skill as adults. Also, she is a rocking soccer coach! She has a team that competes with other area villages and these boys are awesome! We played around with them for a few hours and they were clearly superior!
We learned a ton from our time with Daniel and Kristi. They are also doing a lot of work to train people in basic first aid and nutrition to help lessen the effects of HIV/AIDS. Read Kristi's blog for more on that!