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UPDATE: JUNE 9, 2008

At the end of May, Service International's Advance Preparation Team headed to South Africa to wrap up the onsite logistics for SI's upcoming mission team, which leaves St. Louis on June 22. That's when most of the work and all of the fun will begin.

Service International volunteers are taking practical assistance and our JUMP summer day camp games and fun to Orlando, a small community between the South African town of Nelspruit and the southern border of Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. Hundreds of families who are trying to survive have crossed the border into South Africa looking for jobs in the sugar cane fields. Now they're living in makeshift camps in Orlando.


The poverty is heartbreaking. Families are crammed into 125 small, flimsy, one-room shacks that are nothing more than floors made of dirt, walls built with wooden pallets and cardboard, and thin roofs of cardboard or plastic sheeting. Four hundred other houses are made of concrete blocks. There is no running water or indoor plumbingójust rickety outhouses.

Many of the children in these camps have lost their mothers and fathers to AIDS and they are now being cared for by an aging population of grandparents. There's never enough to eat and certainly not much to laugh about.


These families might eventually be able to obtain assistance from the South African government, but they'll have to live in these camps for five years before they become eligible. Recently, two volunteers from the neighboring town of Kamatipoort came to Orlando to help. Sister Teresa and Isabelle opened the small Komati Care Center, which is subsidized solely by private donations. These two women feed 50 to 75 people one hot meal every day. But more help and supplies are desperately needed.


That's why Service International is stepping in. SI volunteers will present a two-day JUMP camp experience with fun, games, music, and a nutritious lunch for one thousand boys and girls each day. On the third day, SI will prepare and serve 2000 meals at the Komati Care Center. SI's long-term goals include building a new and bigger Care Center with a working kitchen, providing and installing indoor flushing toilets, and building a shaded outdoor eating area. In fact, on June 28, the SI team will take part in a groundbreaking celebration to launch this building effort.

You can help—by making a donation to Service International or going on a future trip to South Africa. Simply send us an email or give us a call (636.532.9008).