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"Living Proof that Kindness to Others Still Exists" - A Tribute to Charity Project Manager Jenny Matthews

26 Apr 2017

To thank her for all she does for the SOS Africa children in Mafikeng, this week SOS Africa Volunteer Liesbeth Affourtit organised a surprise Mother's Day party for SOS Africa Project Manager Jenny Matthews. A wonderful tribute to Jenny is also included below...

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The alarm goes at 5.45 o’clock in the morning. Jenny starts getting ready to leave home, while the house is still silent and the street still empty. She drives into the townships around Mafikeng. One by one, she picks up all 19 kids that participate in the SOS Africa project in Mafikeng, professionally navigating around potholes, reckless taxi-drivers and slippery dirt roads. Sometimes she stops a bit longer to talk to a parent that has questions about their child. When all the kids are in the combi, Jenny drives them to their schools, after which she rushes to her job to start the day.

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After spending over two months at the SOS Africa project in Mafikeng, I am truly impressed and inspired by the work that Jenny Matthews does for SOS Africa. In my environment back home in The Netherlands I don’t know many, if any, people that would sacrifice such a big part of their lives to care for children that are not their own. Getting up early is not the only sacrifice Jenny makes. The dining room in her house has disappeared to create a space where the children can come after school to do their homework and receive extra tutoring. Every afternoon, Jenny makes multiple drives into town to pick up the kids from school, or from soccer practice, or from choir class. Every night, the children are still on her mind when she talks about worries she has about them, or when she says proudly how impressed she was with their reports.

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Jenny does more than the daily organizing of the project. To these kids, she is like a parent.  That means sometimes she has to be strict with them or tell them something they do not want to hear. But it also shows these children that there is someone here that really cares about them. They come to Jenny for support and write her mother’s day cards. I feel grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience this special relationship between Jenny and the SOS children. In a time where we mostly seem to think about ourselves, Jenny has proven to me that kindness to others still exists: a real inspiration.

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