Some Thoughts on the First 10 Years of JCF
Dear Children, Board Members, Staff, Trustees and Friends around the world,
It seems hard to believe that the Foundation is 10 years old already. I can remember well, Mr. Kas in those early days beetling around in his dear wife’s little green Renault. In those days the dream of a great work like a seed germinated, then broke through the ground and slowly, surely grew into the great work of the Spirit amongst children that we see today.
I need to pay tribute to the Board of Governors that came together prior to the actual creation of the Foundation. We needed a legal board in place in order to make the transition from an idea to a work that would stand. Mike and Sandy Wilcox from Honeydew Farm in Greendale joined us and became key and generous supporters of the foundation. Mike and Sandy served on the Board, kept fresh vegetables flowing up to Luck Street and made all sorts of other donations that simply took the work from one level to another. Simon Pitt, who had previously been chair person of the City of Harare intervened for the children stayed on and served as Treasurer. Simon’s particular gift came in when we started to grow and more and more staff joined and we began to need a pay roll system and someone to run it.
If my memory serves me Frank Monk, Vicky Mpofu were also there at the start and, when he retired, Frank handed over to Clinton Rowe.
But it was the dream that Mr. Kas had that fired the Board. It was same dream that inspired Mrs. Kas to sacrifice so much in those early days to help and support her husband and make the dream come true.
What things stand out from those early days?
Firstly Mr. Kas and I together knew that God is the God of Promise and God of the impossible. When we become convinced that a particular path was the one that was right then we would go for it even though we knew we didn’t have the cash. I remember well Mr Kas’s attempts to get the Foundation registered with Social welfare. I was tearing my hair out with frustration and he was quietly confident that, in time, under God’s sovereign ruling, all would be well. I remember well the Board meeting where he announced the Foundation had got its status as a P.V.O.
What were the landmarks?
For me one of them was the night Bishop Mike Gear in the UK said he was willing to serve on a body to be formed in Britain to support the Foundation. I know then that solid, good men and women would serve and Rev. Chris Dobson, who by then had moved back there from Zimbabwe, became the first Chairperson of the Just Children Foundation (U.K.)
In my view one of the very early successes of Mr. Kas was to get Marguerita (Stellan’s wife) to join him. Margarita watched Mr. Kas, saw him driven by his dream and was attracted by his humility and consistency and she came into the office. Her key role was to put in place the systems the Foundation would need if it was to grow and have professionalism about it.
I know that I am prejudiced but throughout the Foundation’s 10 year history the spiritual, moral and practical support of St Lukes Church, Greendale where Mr Kas was a member and I rector ( until 2001) has been fantastic. There was support through the parish council and support direct with people like Mai Chinyamakobvu and Lesley De Bruijn getting very much involved. And, most importantly, the new Executive Director, Pastor Philani’s spiritual home was St Luke’s.
As one looks back, it was as if the new plant would grow quite quickly, then there would be a time of consolidation where we learn to apply the principles that would strengthen the branches for the next spurt of growth. After a long time of just being “Luck Street” the Karoi centre became ours, followed by the Snake Park “Faith and Hope Centre” and now the most recent centre for babies in Chitungwiza. From one man the staff grew to 10 – 20 -30- 40- 50+ that we have today. Human resource management became a critical success factor. Mr. Kas’s trips to the UK and Europe began to yield the great support we have had for friends in England, Canada, the USA, South Africa and Sweden.
The Foundation has looked after thousands of children and little people have come off the street and some have gone on to become head boys, head girls and university graduates. Some, now adults, have come back to work for us to give back what they received years ago. Many thousands more will be given faith, hope and life in years to come.
The time of Mr Kas’s growing illness that would eventually take him to the Father’s side was a hard time for the Foundation. The management team, under Mai Kaseke held up well and did a sterling job of holding course.
It is dangerous for a Chairman of the Board of Governors to single out persons but if I must not fail to mention the Kafesu family and the Fono (husband and wife team from mt pleasant Anglo American in RSA) who have done so much spiritually and financially.
I want to thank the children, past and present, because it is always a joy to see their joy and their love. The boys and girls have literally inspired people from many parts of the world.
I want to pay tribute to the staff for holding together in severely difficult times and for faithfully taking the “light of the world” into dark places. For the patience and love you have given to the children and for hours of hard labour. You have cried when children have died, you have entered their suffering and cared.
I should also thank those in Social Welfare who leave not only given us Mrs Kaseke, but whose partnership in needed from time to time.
Rev Mike Kierle, Chairman of JCF (UK) has done a great job managing the relationship between us and the UK and keeping the team here supplied with prayer back up and practical support.
And then there are others who, likewise, go with us into the future of the Foundation –worldwide friends and supporters, the Tear Fund, other trustees in South Africa and Jersey.
To end, I want to pay tribute to Pastor Philani. Talk about being pushed into the deep end! Truly here is a man brought into the position “ for just a time as this” . He has had to battle out leading, living and working without a close Board of Governors. On top of the unexpected mantle of leadership he has had to help the whole work cope with all the battles of life in Zimbabwe today at the head of a medium size and growing not for profit organization. He has done admirably and my respect for him is very deep.
I am sure all of us share the dream of a new day of freedom, justice and peace for Zimbabwe. When that day dawns and the light of democracy begins to shine the work of the Foundation will begin “big time” because thousands need us. Having gone through fire and water the Foundation is positioned to be one of God’s vehicles to reach out and save little lives.
To God be the Glory.
Rev Canon Tim Neill
Just Children Foundation