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In This Issue
Sibongile Matures
Masazane Soup Kitchen Up and Running
Etafeni Team Attends People's Health Assembly
Organizational Partners Seeking Volunteers
Additional Volunteer Needs

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In South Africa, we spent the last several weeks watching the Olympics, hearing the stories of heroism and hard work that brought athletes from this country to the ultimate sports stage in London. When South Africa's Cameron Van der Burgh broke the 100-meter breaststroke record with a gold-medal performance, our cheering echoed across the country.

When the women's soccer team lost to Canada, we felt their pain as if it were our own. This Olympic summer is all about celebrating the heroes in our lives. In a country struggling to emerge from years of oppression and poverty, our Olympians inspire us to try harder, dig deeper, and hope fervently.

But we are also surrounded here in Cape Town by heroes who do not play at Wimbledon or Wembley. They are our Tremendous Hearts volunteers, our donor angels, and the caregivers in Cape Town working every day for the children who need hope.

This summer, we witnessed a newly-formed South African leadership team achieve a new level of organizational maturity when it offered workshops for parents of disabled children in the community. We celebrated the opening of a soup kitchen that is now feeding six grannies and the 145 foster children in their care. We were blessed by an amazing fundraising appeal that garnered nearly $25,000 for future projects and volunteers, thanks to a very generous match by one of our individual supporters. And we welcomed new volunteer professionals who are here making a difference.

Let the vuvuzela horns sing out, bringing hope and unity to the people of South Africa!   




Marilyn E. Votaw



Project News  

Sibongile Matures


When Tremendous Hearts volunteer and professional physical therapist Johan de Besche arrived in Cape Town a year ago, the Sibongile Day and Night Care Centre for children was in survival mode. The children with disabilities in its care were languishing with little hope of improvement, despite a caring, deeply committed staff.  Even if the organization had been more efficiently run or the caregivers better trained, there was no government funding to support potential improvements in care.


Since then, as a direct result of efforts by Johan, fellow Tremendous Hearts volunteer Sara Stackhouse, and our founder, Marilyn Votaw, Sibongile has received more than one million rand (approximately $125,00) in government funding, and it is already being put to good use.  For the first time in the organization's history, two of its children are attending school and three others are currently being assessed for school placement.  All of its children are receiving appropriate physical therapy every day.  And Sibongile has been able to hire an inspiring and capable South African leadership team.


Becky Molinini (foreground in white shirt) providing training in physical therapy.
Becky Molinini (foreground, white t-shirt) training parents in physical therapy

In addition, Tremendous Hearts volunteer and physical therapist Becky Molinini arrived earlier this summer to continue Johan's capacity building work.  Becky and Johan were invited by the Sibongile leadership to facilitate workshops to coach parents of disabled children from the local community, on caring for their children at home.  The workshops preemptively engage parents and provide support to them with the hope that they will not abandon their children.  These workshops are a huge milestone for Sibongile and evidence of how far the organization has come since Johan's arrival a year ago.  Importantly, this type of early intervention is at the heart of Sibongile's approach to responding to the orphans and vulnerable child crisis: empower communities to embrace them, care for them, and include them as part of the community's extended family.  Our volunteer team has been excited about participating in such an important milestone for Sibongile and its neighbors.


Since Johan's departure, Becky has begun developing a measurable physical therapy plan for each child at Sibongile.  This plan includes multiple components: care from a trained physical therapist as well as supportive care from physical therapy assistants, and additional exercises with the caregivers.  It also includes a program to transfer skills to Sibongile staff team so that they are not as reliant on volunteers in the long-term.  The local hospital medical staff is thrilled with the changes in the children coming to them from the Sibongile, and with the advancements in its physical therapy programming.


Masazane Soup Kitchen Up and Running


The Masazane Soup Kitchen opened this spring through a joint effort by Tremendous Hearts and the Rondebosch United Church (RUC) community in response to a request for a sustainable food supply for the six grandmothers providing care and support for more than 145 orphans and vulnerable children in the Paarl township of Mbekeni.  When Tremendous Hearts was first introduced to the grannies, these six women were struggling to feed the children in their care and pay for the uniforms required for school attendance.  While the children were loved and safe, they and the grannies were often going hungry.


Our volunteer professional Joye Dickens has been supervising this project, which still had a long way to go when she arrived here early this summer.  Completion of the electrical connection to ensure refrigeration of all food products delivered was a critical step in this process.   


Joye Dickens (right) coordinating donations at the Masazane Soup Kitchen.
Joye Dickens (right) and Martha Mdingi coordinating donations at the Masazane Soup Kitchen

With refrigeration now running efficiently--thanks to a local contractor who donated his labor--and Joye establishing a process for weekly food donation pickups from local grocery store Woolworths, the Masazane Soup Kitchen has been successfully providing meals for the grannies and their 145 foster children for three months. 


Joye, Marilyn, and the RUC team are also seeking a Paarl-based community organization to become a partner to the soup kitchen.  This local partnership will allow the project to receive funding from the local municipality and increase the sustainability of the soup kitchen in the long term.



"It is difficult to find adequate words to express the love and commitment the grannies have for the orphaned and vulnerable children in their midst.  They truly have tremendous hearts for God's most needy among us.  I felt blessed to be a small part of this important project."

Joye Dickens

Tremendous Hearts Volunteer


The huge success of Tremendous Hearts' early summer fundraising appeal and the generosity of our friends and family in the U.S. make it possible for our volunteers to continue to provide capacity building support to endeavors like the Masazane Soup Kitchen.  


Tremendous Hearts Volunteer Brings Etafeni Team to People's Health Assembly


In addition to supporting the Masazane Soup Kitchen, Tremendous Hearts volunteer Joye Dickens also led three teams from The Etafeni Project at the 3rd Annual People's Health Assembly in Cape Town.  Etafeni is a grassroots organization providing a comprehensive program to support HIV positive mothers and their children, including a preschool, an organic vegetable garden, nutrition program, HIV/AIDS counseling, income-generating activities, supervised homework, and afterschool care.


Craft stall a the People's Health Assembly
The Etefani craft stall at the
People's Health Assembly

One Etafeni team ran a food stall, serving 100 Assembly attendees soup and sandwiches each day of the event.  A second team set up a craft stall at the craft market.  This team sold beadwork and sewing projects created by participants in Etafeni's income-generation program.  The third group supervised by Joye for the event included Etafeni's youth Marimba players, who performed at the Assembly's opening ceremonies.


In addition to coordinating the logistics between the People's Health Assembly staff and Etafeni staff, Joye worked with the Etafeni team to set up the food stall, price the crafts, and make two banners to advertise their project.


"Joye was our dream volunteer.  She asked what one needed, listened intently, worked hard at every detail, kept one in the loop as to what she was doing, used her intelligence and her amazing ability to relate to people, and made herself available beyond the call of duty.  We feel we made a friend.  Could we have Joye again if she returns to Cape Town?"

Stephanie Kilroe

Etafeni Team


With guidance from Joye, the Etefani team gained important experience through the event and participation at the Assembly provided global exposure for Etafeni, with 80 representatives from different countries visiting the Etafeni center during the Assembly.  The craft stall also made a profit that directly benefited the crafters.  


Tremendous Hearts Organizational Partners Seeking Volunteers 


Tremendous Hearts is actively partnering with several new South African organizations to grow their organizational capacity and improve the standard of care they provide to the orphans and vulnerable children in their care.  We are currently seeking volunteer professionals to support or manage these partnerships for 6-12 months:


  • Abaphumeleli Place of SafetyThis home for nearly 30 orphans and vulnerable children, some of whom are HIV positive, is seeking a volunteer professional with experience in bookkeeping or accounting who can assess their financial organizational needs, implement a more effective financial system, and identify local pro bono partner to ensure sustainability.  They are also seeking volunteers who can train its team of eight caregivers in supervisory skills and developmental play techniques, and help establish standards for hygiene and daily routine.       

  • Home from Home:  Home from Home provides supervised, community-based foster care for children in need through a network of small, family homes throughout the Western Cape province.  Home from Home also operates a crèche/nursery school in Khayelitsha.  They are seeking two volunteer educators to assist with projects.  The first would  work with the educators at the crèche to provide more stimulation and better prepare learners for school.  The project would involve setting up new systems, classroom programs, sourcing and developing age-appropriate teaching material, and coaching the educators on effective teaching methods.  The second project would be to serve as the coordinator of the afterschool program for the 30+ foster children cared for by Home from Home in Khayelitsha.
  • Nonceba Family Counseling Centre: This is the only center in Khayelitsha for children who have been sexually abused.  It includes a safe house, counseling programs for children and their families, and mitigation strategies within the larger community.  They are looking to Tremendous Hearts to provide an experienced fundraiser to create a sustainable annual development plan and train a staff member to take on ongoing maintenance of the plan.  They are also seeking a volunteer occupational therapist or early childhood educator to integrate developmental play into ongoing counseling and daily programs for the children.
  • Umtha Welenga: This organization offers the Khayelitsha community multiple programs to support children and families affected by and/or infected with HIV/AIDS.  These programs include community-based foster care, support for households headed by children, income generation, afterschool programs, and HIV education.  The organization is seeking youth workers and educators for its afterschool program and a professional with marketing and fundraising experience who can develop an organizational newsletter, build a child sponsorship program, and create an ongoing and sustainable fundraising plan. 


Additional Volunteer Needs        


In addition to the needs outlined above, every one of our partners has repeatedly requested volunteers with counseling and therapy skills.  In response, Tremendous Hearts is focused on recruiting psychologists, psychiatrists, life coaches, or people with pastoral counseling experience to work with the adult caregivers within these organizations.  Their lives are often as stressed and challenging as those of the vulnerable children they care for.


Of course, Tremendous Hearts welcomes volunteer professionals with other expertise as well, including: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, business

athletics, education, and more!


If you, or someone you know, would like to explore becoming a Tremendous Volunteer Professional, please contact our office at [email protected].


Our Mission

Based in Cape Town, South Africa and Arlington, MA, Tremendous Hearts provides volunteer professionals who commit to at least six months of service to South African children's homes and other agencies that care for orphaned, abused, neglected and vulnerable children. Our volunteers provide capacity building services and technical assistance to improve the standard of care for vulnerable children in South Africa. For more information, visit


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Tremendous Hearts, Inc. is exempt from tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.  Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Please consult your tax professional for advice.  EIN: 26-2447884