Ten years ago, some people in the USA donated money and made it possible for our Lead Pastor to go on a Vision Trip with Children’s HopeChest, USA. That act of generosity turned into 265 children receiving food, education, medicine and discipleship! Because they gave, a church was mobilized to partner with Swazi’s to dig a well, start a pre-school, build a church and create sustainable development projects! In 2015, Riverwood assisted in the process of establishing Children’s HopeChest Canada as a charitable organization, allowing them to take on additional churches within Canada. We feel it is now our turn to ‘pay-it-forward’ and exercise the same generosity that was given to us!
We do not have dates nailed down yet. This venture is fluid and just beginning to take shape. We are potentially looking at August 2018, October 2018 or February 2019. Factors that influence the dates include being able to secure flights, coordinating the Vision Trip with the missionaries on the ground in Swaziland and the discovery of 4-6 churches who would like to participate.
There will be a more formal, written application required, but for now we would simply like to have a conversation with any potential church leaders. This would allow us to share our story, passion and vision and hear theirs! Simply email us at email@example.com
Riverwood Church will cover…
- Airfare from your Canadian city to Johannesburg, South Africa
- Bus/Van transportation from Johannesburg to Swaziland
- Hotels and accommodations
- 3 meals a day
- a short safari experience in Africa
You will be responsible to…
- PASSPORT: have a valid passport (with an expiry date at least 6 months after your scheduled return from Swaziland)
- VACCINATIONS: all participants are required to be up-to-date on their tetanus and diphtheria / polio shots, Hepatitis A& B
- TRAVEL INSURANCE: proof of current and comprehensive travel insurance is required for the Vision Trip
First-time visitors to Africa often worry about tropical diseases, venomous snakes, wild animals, crime and racial tension. However, in 10 years of leading mission trips to Swaziland we have never encountered any of these. In fact, Swaziland is considered a very safe and friendly country with hospitality being a cornerstone of Swazi culture. The greatest danger in Swaziland comes on the roads, with wandering cattle getting in the way of vehicles.
Being a Canadian startup, CHC Canada currently has one church partner, Riverwood. However, CHC Canada/USA has 36 partner churches committed to fighting poverty in Swaziland and over 130 churches partnered in other countries.
In Swaziland, CHC works with 36 CarePoints, cares for 7,826 children, 5,600 of which are sponsored.
We felt called to help move the needle on poverty in the country of Swaziland because of the raw statistics! Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world! 69% of Swazi’s live in abject poverty! In Swaziland, 45% of the children are orphaned or vulnerable! It is very common to see a grandmother caring for 8-11 children on a single homestead because of the impact HIV/AIDS is having on the middle generation. The country ranks 221st out of 224 countries when it comes to life expectancy! In a country of just over 1.1 million people, we felt like we could actually make a difference!
In Swaziland, hungry children tend to congregate and gather. Inevitably, a small band of Gogo’s (grandmothers) will light a fire and begin to cook whatever they have been able to gather from the community, typically some maze (corn) or porridge. This is often the only meal these children will eat. When word gets out that there is food, more children gather. This is a CarePoint. It is a local, organic and cultural response to the needs that poverty creates.
CHC locates these CarePoints, where people on the ground are already caring for vulnerable children, and offers needed partnership and assistance.
CHC is small! This means the partnership with local churches and pastors is highly relational and dynamic!
CHC is built on a ‘community-to-community’ model! CHC is certainly interested in partnering sponsors with vulnerable children, but they only do this in the context of a community-to-community relationship. One Canadian church community is dynamically and intimately partnered with one Swazi CarePoint community! If that church doesn’t sponsor children at that CarePoint, no one else will! If that church doesn’t write letters to those children, no one else will! If that church doesn’t send a team each year to build relationships and love-on the kids, no one else will!
In most aid organizations, child sponsorship is the driving goal, but the children sponsored by the people of any one church could be spread out all over the country. At CHC, its one church partnered with one CarePoint and the only children your church will sponsor will be from that one CarePoint. It is designed to be a long-term and personal relationship between two communities.
CHC has 3-4 dedicated missionary families working in Swaziland and a staff of approximately 30-40 Swazi’s.
The lead couple in Swaziland, Matt & Kriek Gerber, are originally from South Africa and have built the ministry from the ground up over the past 10 years. They lead their team of Program Directors, Shepherds (a CHC leader assigned to each CarePoint), drivers, teachers, a nurse, and office staff.
We have been taking teams to Swaziland for 10 years and the latest 2-week trip required each participant to fundraise about $3900 (all expenses included).