A Global Community of Giving

Dec 13, 2021 | 0 comments

by SMC Board Member, Joan Brown

Sister Mary’s Children was lovingly created to honor Sister Mary Paule Tacke and her life work in South Africa.  Before SMC existed, the projects Sister loved so dearly had been generously supported for years by a tiny community in north Idaho, filled with friends and relatives who loved Sister. When Sister Mary’s Children received its official non-profit status in 2016, I was asked to serve on the board of directors due to my personal journey forming relationships with local people in Mthatha; most notably my semester away from a teaching position in the U.S. in 2014 in order to volunteer at the school attached to Thembelihle Home.

Since  stepping into my role as a board member of SMC, a nagging question has constantly loomed over my thoughts.  How are we going to sustain support for this non-profit? Can the generosity  of one tiny community enable us to continue our mission for years to come?  In a world full of needs, many right in our own backyards, why would people be drawn to give monetarily to projects that are so far away, in an obscure town at the bottom of a continent on which most of us do not live?

To the SMC’s  board members’ surprise,  in addition to the faithful giving from Sister’s hometown,  people from all over the world have also generously supported the projects that were so beloved by our namesake Sister Mary Paule.  Why?  Because, like me, many of these international supporters have their own unique story of connection to this small corner of the world. For some, their support ties directly back to living in Mthatha for a short time and the great influence that experience had on their life path. Some came as young adults on a gap year between High School and University, some came as an alternative from their country’s compulsory military requirement, and some, like me, came in mid-life for reasons they really didn’t understand.

While the vast majority  of our support continues to come from those in the U.S. who believe in SMC’s vision and mission, yet have never visited Mthatha, below is a snapshot of how some of our supporters from  around the world have creatively, and generously found ways to raise money for SMC because of their deep gratitude for their time in Mthatha.

Kirstie Meldrum, Switzerland

Kirstie volunteered at St. Barnabas Hospital through Project Trust (U.K.) for a year spanning 1993/94. Kirstie’s team of volunteers included two who worked with Sister Mary Paule at Ikhwezi, therefore she spent many weekends on that campus.  Running Marathons has become a passion for Kirstie and she has raised over $4200 in 2017 and 2021  by acquiring  sponsorship from others  for her races

Emma Flavin – Scotland, UK

Emma volunteered at Thembelihle Home through Project Trust for a year in 2006/07.  As an alternative to giving gifts to friends who, like her, are starting families, Emma began donating to SMC to support the children at Bethany andThembelihle in honor of the new baby.

Michael Spaeth – Germany 

Michael volunteered at Thembelihle Home, and often assisted Sister Mary Paule in letter writing as well, during the year that spanned 2013/14.  He was sent through a German organization called MaZ- Missionary on Time for a gap year. In 2018 Michael’s family celebrated his father’s 60th birthday.  In lieu of gifts, they asked guests to donate money to support SMC.  Over $1,000 U.S. dollars  was collected!

Colbert Presbyterian Church, Colbert, Washington, USA

This church had a lengthy partnership, beginning in 2007, with a church in Mthatha.  Over the years of the relationship, both churches sent delegates to one another’s churches as a way to strengthen the ties between them.  The delegates from the US often stayed on the campus of Ikhwezi Lokusa, and had the opportunity to visit the projects that SMC currently supports.  Due to a change in the church in Mthatha, the partnership has subsided.  In 2021 Colbert Presbyterian Church generously donated the remaining $4,000 in their partnership account to SMC as a way to continue their love and support for the community.

Katteri Duman – Cottonwood, Idaho, USA (hometown of Sister Mary Paule)

Like many supporters of SMC, this young lady has become passionate about the projects we support without having ever visited any of them.  Because of the deep roots SMC has in Cottonwood, Katteri planned her senior project for high school as a fundraiser for our non-profit.  After months of planning and securing donations for a silent auction, she raised over $6,000  to support our partners in Mthatha!