Shortly after John’s arrival in South Africa, he, and a group of 35 Bakhita girls gathered for a day of reuniting, fun, food, and gifts. Three Sacred Heart Sisters and our dear Auntie Dinah worked hard to help the day go smoothly. The program of the day started with prayer and lots of singing.
Bakhita Charities is paying school and boarding fees for 22 girls to attend St. Brendan’s. Each of them left the gathering with a bag of beautiful gifts prepared by many loving and generous USA people. The gift bags included lightweight hoodies, fun socks, a bracelet, pen, lotion, a new face mask and a little pocket money. However, the hot item of the year was a Beanie Baby for each gift bag. A friend donated a large bin of the little stuffed animals last year and we a have been busy spreading them around Africa. They are always a hit.
We also invited Bakhita girls who once lived at Bakhita Village, then graduated from St. Brendan’s, and are now working on some form of tertiary education. Bakhita Charities supports them with living expenses. They love to come to the gatherings as it is a reunion with the Bakhita family who raised them. Thirteen attended and John was able to have one-on-one live conversations with them that can help determine how much support each one needs. We also ask them to give back by helping others as they have been helped. They start by giving words of wisdom and experience to the high school girls regarding “Life After St. Brendan’s”.
Each of these young ladies also received a gift bag from the USA along with a box lunch to take with them on their journey back to their places.
Maggie did not make the trip to South Africa this year as she is helping with a family medical situation, but John was able to phone her during the gathering on a WhatsApp video call that allowed us all to get reconnected. There were tears going both directions of the 8,400-mile divide.