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South Africans dance during worship celebration by Richard Lord.The Khanya Programme of Mooiplaas, South Africa

UMCOR Advance #180043

Date: March 2003 Click to Visit Global News

In a school classroom in Mooiplaas, South Africa, church members are joined by others from the community for a standing-room-only worship service. This is a special service, a celebration that lasts for several hours. Men and women, some dressed all in white, some in vivid colors, dance and sing, swirling around the crowded room. What is the cause for this festive occasion-- goats! Goats have been delivered for members of the community who are striving to create a more self-sufficient life for themselves and their families. The community has joined together to give thanks and bless the animals.

These community members are participating in the Khanya Programme, a United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Advance project of the Methodist Church of South Africa. Khanya, a Xhosa word for "light," is an innovative ministry developed to assist the Xhosa people as they make the transition from apartheid to a more democratic system.

When any country undergoes a major political and economic transition there are many challenges to face. Building a society that includes all people in decision making, that offers all people equal opportunities for education and employment, takes many years.

The Khanya Programme is a pioneering project that works with rural, black South Africans as they develop new ways to earn a living and utilize the land. Khanya's goal is to make the most of the resources that are already present in the Mooiplaas villages near East London: fertile land, creativity, and a vibrant spirituality.

The Khanya Programme uses a ship's wheel to illustrate its structure, at the center is revitalized worship, worship that strives to link together God, care of creation and sustainable development. Extending out from the hub of worship are five spokes of the wheel:

Woman working with beads by Richard Lord.

  1. Permaculture. There is a model permaculture system at Khanya's Mooiplaas Training Centre with an orchard, livestock and an experimental garden. The Khanya program is experimenting with and introducing sustainable agriculture techniques so that participants may better utilize the fertile land around them. Training in agriculture is a key component of the program.
  2. Appropriate housing. An eco-manse at the training centre, made of mud bricks, provides a model house that is attractive, affordable and durable. It is connected to a water tank and permaculture garden to meet the needs for healthy food and clean water. With a composting toilet, solar hot water heater and solar electricity, it uses God's gifts of natural resources to meet modern comforts while caring for the earth. The house has been built by students from the Mooiplaas villages. With their training they will be able to build similar houses for themselves, for other villagers, and eventually may begin a commercial enterprise.
  3. Livestock distribution. Khanya works with Heifer Project to provide training in livestock management and distribute cows and goats.
  4. Micro-industries. Khanya works with local women from the Mooiplaas villages, providing crafts workshops and exploring ways in which the local people can develop and market the skills they already have. Cushions, bedding, curtains and traditional beadwork are sold at roadside stalls to tourists.
  5. Wesley tours. Serv-faris combine service opportunities for people from other countries with wildlife viewing at nearby Mpofu Game Reserve. The Serv-fari project goals are to offer service opportunities, promote cross-cultural experiences, support the local village economy by hosting guests in village homes in "bed-and-breakfast" fashion, and raise funds for local church projects and the Khanya Programme. There is a similar program designed for South African Methodists.

The Khanya Programme emphasizes sustainability and harmony with the land. The project approaches development in a holistic way that celebrates the elements, traditions and spirituality that are already present in the community. By celebrating and further developing the existing resources, participants hope to stem the tide of internal migration as young people leave the rural areas for the cities. With the end of apartheid, people of all races can now own land and develop farming and agricultural skills. Young people are learning that they can make a living by staying in their communities, rather than being lured to the cities by false images of the "good life"-- images which rarely reflect the harsh reality they find in trying to survive in the urban areas.

Through the various components of the Khanya Programme, members of the Mooiplaas villages are working to recognize, celebrate, and utilize the wealth of resources around and within them and so build better lives for themselves, their children and their communities.

Xhosa boy in a field by Richard Lord.You can support the ministry of the Khanya Programme by giving to UMCOR Advance #180043-0. UMCOR encourages you to give through your local United Methodist Church. Gifts may also be sent to: UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. To make a credit card donation, call (800) 554-8583. One hundred percent of your gift goes to this emergency. United Methodists' generous giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing, part of their ongoing contribution to mission around the world, supplements the cost of Advance gifts.

Photos: 1. Members of a Methodist Church in Mooiplaas village dance during a special worship service to celebrate the delivery of goats. 2. A Xhosa woman does traditional craft work to sell to tourists. 3. In an effort to stem internal migration from rural communities to urban areas, the Khanya Programme offers training for young people in agricultural and building skills. Credit: Richard Lord. Click on any photo to see a larger version.

See also:
Khanya Programme: Photo Library
Xhosa Portraits Library

This story was updated February 2003. This UMCOR Advance Story of the Month was originally posted on October 2000.

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