Fred sent me this letter so you can learn more of Mpume and Celestine’s work in South Africa.

Spring 2011


Dear Emmaus House Friends,


The year has begun with enthusiasm for the KwaNdebeqheke kids whose education is sponsored through Emmaus House. Last year I shared with them that 2011 could be a unique year in that their dream of meeting the people “who do not know us and yet who care about us” (as one of the kids said a few years ago) might true. I am so pleased and can barely sleep these days myself! Yesterday I was at my mom’s, at KwaNdebeqheke and got to meet at least three of the children. I told them the great news and they said they would tell others that “it is really happening”. They wanted to send their messages of welcome straight away. The Buzz word is “Emmaus House”. I am scanning and sending at least one of the children’s messages as it is. 


Besides these children and other people who are thrilled about the visit is my mother, Celestine. I consider her to be the most wonderful and selfless woman in KwaNdebeqheke. In this article I want to share more about this remarkable woman since it is a year in which she turns 78 years. What a blessing! Born on 17 July 1933 we will be celebrating her 78th birthday this year with our Emmaus House family. She smiles beautifully when I report, “Mama, uyeza ngempela umndeni wethu waseMelika. Sekunesiqiniseko” (Our US family is really coming. It’s confirmed!). She says, “Sengathi singaphila sonke kuze kufike lolo suke” (I hope we are all well to see that day). You will remember what I shared about my mother years ago. She is a person behind the concept of Imbalenhle Day Care Creche in our area and which she started after retiring. With the help of my late Aunt, she sacrificed the little that was meant for her family in order to share with the people who were in worse circumstances than herself. She also coordinated the water project for the families who did not have clean tap water and who received this amazing gift through Emmaus House in 2004. A kind and rather quiet woman she is so noble that when we were young we did not understand why she always looked out for other people. It was only as we grew up that we discovered the meaning of generosity and followed suit. Yesterday I asked my mother what would be top of the list for her if she were given a gift for her 78th birthday. This is what I gathered:


“Gogo Zondi’s Soup Kitchen” (top of my mother’s wish list):


My mother is strong as she is still involved in a number of church activities. She is no longer working at Imbalenhle Creche (village daycare center) but she wishes she can continue to serve the needy. She wants to continue being useful. She dreams of running a soup kitchen from her home. She thinks this would be the best service for needy children, old people and those who live alone. Since she has a helper who lives with her at home, my mother thinks the helper can be of assistance in this regard. She says she can organize with the bakery delivery truck that supplies the local small shop to also deliver about 10 loaves of bread five times a week and then prepare some soup using different vegetables (and some meat when possible). She said perhaps once a week she can even prepare a hot meal. The soup service would also extend to some of the people she is involved with in church and who walk a long distance to church on Sundays. She would be glad to provide something for them after Mass and bring a smile to the people. At least this kind of service will not mean walking a long distance. Referring to me, she even added that “you can even help to deliver those imperishable items like canned foods whenever possible”. That made me thinks of the Emmaus House pantry which is always so well stocked.  But I know this is through the donations that come from several people. In my mother’s case there is no one that would donate any of the items, so she would need to be financed. She even has a name for her dream soup kitchen service and it is “Gogo Zondi’s Soup Kitchen”.  “Gogo” is a Zulu word for Granma.  But this kind of project will require that she has a big fridge / deep freezer which she currently does not have. As for the stove she can use the one in her kitchen. I think this is great as it will take her away from thinking too much about my younger brother who has contracted HIV and does not heed to what he is supposed to do. My mother has supported several people who suffer from the epidemic but her own son does not follow the correct route that has seen people getting better and better. These This worries my mother. I, personally think the idea behind my mom’s dream is to shift focus a bit from HIV related issues whilst still attending to humanity.


So what can you do?


Since our Emmaus House family will be celebrating the great day with us, I know that my mother would only be too pleased if this help came her way from Emmaus House. I know we can try to make it happen but if it comes from the people she greatly cherishes (for having taken care of her daughter and grand son –me and Nhloso) it will mean more to her. If you wish to give donations to this effect please contact Emmaus House. Even if the soup kitchen can be available one day a week I think her dream will have materialized.   


We are all looking forward to meeting Father Bob, Fred, Diana, Freddie, Helen and Carol. Oh by the way Carol is born only two days after my mother. Except she is not two days younger than my mother! So we are also excited because she will celebrate her 8th birthday in South Africa.  Another reason for joy! My son, Nhloso and nieces (who visited Albany in 2006) are also looking forward to the 17th in particular as this is when they will get to meet our US family since they will travel from Johannesburg to celebrate our US family as well as mom’s birthday. Now you know why I am having sleepless nights these days! Excitement!  Never knew it can cause havoc in your life! (lol).


We love you all