Across digital spaces and dining room tables, and face-to-face with our partners, the Mergon Foundation team has the privilege of hearing stories of ordinary people who, by grace and through sacrifice, are having an extraordinary impact on the communities they serve. Ministry partner, Mosaic, is an orphan and vulnerable care (OVC) organisation in South Africa with a self-sustainable model that is innovating the orphan care space across the entire continent, starting with its home base in South Africa.
Recently they celebrated the extraordinary impact of women in their communities through the launch of an inspired coffee table book and video, ‘Hope Lives Here.’ A work that is both vibrant and vulnerable, ‘Hope Lives Here’ beautifully captures the strength, grit, love, and faith deeply woven into the heart of Mosaic’s foster mothers.
‘This book has been on my heart for a long time,’ said Louise Conradie, co-founder of Mosaic. ‘These 30 women we feature in this project carry a piece of heaven within them, as they’re each made in the image of God. I wanted to take what was inside them and show it to the world.’
‘We took what we knew about the moms’ inner qualities and portrayed it in the way that they were styled, so that the world can see them as they truly are,’ she continued. ‘Looking at each picture, will be like having a look inside these precious women.’
Contrary to the picture of hopelessness and despair that media tends to portray of South Africa’s townships, these women are joyful and resilient; free and full of faith in the midst of trials. This post is a tribute to their lives, and to the hope that weaves like a 3-cord golden strand through the legacies they’ll leave behind on the children they’ve chosen to call their own.
36 years old
Raising two biological children and one foster child
‘I’m a team player. I push myself. Who I am, makes a huge difference. I am passionate. Everything I do, I do it with my whole heart.’
‘I grew up in a close-knitted loving family. We were a lot of siblings. My dad was a leader in the Anglican church. I grew up in church. My favourite memories are sitting around the fire and sharing stories. Everything changed when I was 19 and my mom passed away and I couldn’t finish school. I also couldn’t fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. When my sister passed away there was no one to take in her children. I had to step up. I am busy with my matric now. It’s a struggle to provide for children. I don’t want my children to experience the same difficulties that I did growing up, therefore I work very hard to make their lives better. I have been strong enough. I have a wonderful peaceful home. It makes me happy to think of the progress we’ve made as a family. I dream that my children will all have a good education. That they will be comfortable being themselves and that they will stand on their own two feet.’
70 years old
Raising two foster children (grandmother)
‘God chose me to be the salt of the earth and to carry his flavour. God’s grace keeps me. The fact that I’m a believer makes all the hard things bearable.’
‘We were 6 siblings who grew up on a farm. When I was two years old two of my brothers drwoned in the farm dam. I know what it’s like to have nothing and I know what it’s like to have a lot. Therefore, I always have enough to give. I’ve received a lot. I always share what I have. I believe that when you share your little, a lot rolls back to you. My mom lived until she was 95. My dad lived until he was 102. He believed in God’s promises. I’m raising the children of my son who’s in jail. He’s repeatedly made wrong choices. But I’m raising these children in God’s ways. We feed the hungry, we read the Bible together, and we pray together. It makes me so happy when my kids do well at school. I also love to see my community uplifted. I love spending time with my husband and with God.’
56 years old
Raising four foster children
‘God gives. I share. God gives again.’
‘I was raised by my sister. When I was 16 I found that my biological mother was my grandmother and that the mother who raised me was my biological suster. I remember growing up scared, because of all the dangers all around. The most trying time of my life was when my daughter was killed in 2020 by her ex-boyfriend. My kids have big dreams of becoming a pilot, an astronaut, a doctor and a policeman. I got them uniforms for their dream jobs. I believe they can achieve these dreams. My mom is my role model. She raised so many kids well. Every child was her child. I think I’m a role model because other women adopt my lifestyle of praying and caring for kids. I think raising kids is my talent. I show them the right way. I have a successful small business. I’m living out my dream of becoming a teacher. My kids are safe. I love children. I feel kids pain when they suffer. I’m a lover of people and people love me.’
67 years old
Raising four foster children (grandmother)
‘When we strive to become better people, everything around us becomes better too.’
‘I wish I could be a social worker, but I had to leave school in grade 2 to help my mother raise her two siblings. Unfortunately, they also had to leave school to help put bread on the table. I was a naughty child. I used to steal oranges from the fruit orchards next to the road. I tell my kids these stories and tell them to learn from my mistakes. I teach them to rise out of poverty. I don’t know what’s ahead for my children, but my dreams for them are big. I want them to achieve great things. Children bring light into a home. I love the busyness and noise in the house that comes with children. I have a deep love and compassion for children. God gives me the strength and wisdom to raise kids.
Watch the short film here or visit the Hope Lives Here site to read more inspiring testimonials and learn how you can support this meaningful initiative. All proceeds from this project will be used towards Mosaic’s education and job creation programmes.
The project will also be showcased at Potchefstrom’s annual art festival, Aaardklop, between 30 September-2 October. Be sure to visit the instalment and meet the team that brought this inspiring work to life.