O Grace Land takes her first tentative steps – backed by generous donations by a major bank, supported by in kind donations of building materials and with the emotional support of more than a handful of friends and supporters.We’ll tell you the miracle story of how O Grace Land got her premises and celebrate the refurbishment of the upper floor building that will become O Grace Land.
Step number 1: The Vision and the Prayer
In 2010 Philani Zama spoke with his mentor Oupa Majola; he expressed his hope to start a girls’ home to answer the desperate need for a place where girls who had aged out of care could stay and grow. Oupa stated boldly, “Let’s do it” and from that moment, in Philani Zama’s head, it was happening. When, with whom and how, he did not know, but it was happening. The next few years would see Philani leaving his position at SA-Yes, naming O Grace Land, registering and NPO and inviting respected Christian business and community leaders onto the board.
Step number 2: Finding a home for the girls of O Grace Land
Oude Molen Eco Village is a delightful place to raise a group of girls; its an open space that celebrates freedom and safe boundaries all at the same time. Oude Molen Eco Village also offers a few creative outlets to help young people develop: horses are stabled there and wood and craft workshops echo the creative nature of the enterprises housed there. Philani Zama asked at Oude Molen and was told there was no building avalable. Then after some powerful encouragement from a family member, he started to pray in earnest and leave the matter up to God. God answered – soon Philani received a call from Sanele Nyoka, mentor City of Cape Town employee, that there was a dormitory-sized floor of an old admin building, an ideal potential home for 20 girls.
Step number 3: Strong walls, firm foundations
O Grace Land took her first steps when volunteers cleared out heaps of rubble from the second floor building. Then Oude Molen local Lynne approached Philani to offer funding for two men to refurbish the windows of the future O Grace Land floor. It took 2 months for Alan Beer and his assistant Keith to lovingly restore the many-paned windows which are a major feature of the building. Interior designer Justin played a huge role in developing the layout and donating his time and some flooring. The work on the architectural site plan for the building was generously donated by Jacky Cattell.
Step number 4: Surrounded by partners and supporters
Around mid 2016 Philani then approached potential funders to ask for support to redo the ceilings in the building. Again Lynne stepped forward to support O Grace Land and she sourced a large donation from a small local roofing company who sponsored the supplies for the refurbishment of the whole ceiling. On behalf of the O Grace Land board, we would like to offer a hearty thanks to all local Cape Town businesses who have offered us donations in kind. We would like to thank Plumstead Electrical for electrical material, Vortex Plumbers for labour and materials. They are an important way that youth homes and projects cover their monthly costs.
In 2016 Tony Hansford partnered with Lana Stacey who works in the financial sector to start a funding campaign targeted at the financial sector – called ‘Help us renovate our Girls’ Home’. Lana herself donated very generously to the cause – thanks so much for your open-hearted investment in O Grace Land’s forward movement and vision.
Most importantly, O Grace Land has some sponsors who have believed in us from the start. Individuals have committed to monthly giving as early as 2014. We would like to honour Dr Rupert Robinson who has been an anchor and a true supporter right from the start. Lynette Mhlongo is also a generous monthly giver, we thank you too. Our thanks also go to Shane Stewart who also backed the O Grace Land cause with a generous donation.
Step number 5: Looking forward to December 2016.
Throughout 2016, Philani and partner organisations (schools and homes) have been speaking about the hope that many of their girls have. The girls hope to move to O Grace Land by the end of 2016 or start of 2017. “The hopes and applications far outweigh my fears”, says Philani Zama – the girl’s letters and motivational writing in their application forms are powerful and moving. We get about 3 applications per week from girls who are desperate for a place to move on to when they age out of care.
We look forward to the many more steps in O Grace Land’s journey. “The longest journey begins with the first step” – we are encouraged by the blessing and flow that has been present in these first few stages and can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for O Grace Land.