But that was just the beginning. By the end of their mission, the Camilleris would fill a need they didn’t know existed until the service project.
In Pretoria, South Africa, Nellie Matjeke and her husband run an orphanage of seventeen children, including three of their own. To support the orphanage, Nellie and three other women tend fifty-four children every day.
What makes the conditions especially uncomfortable is the need to stay inside. According to the South African Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, each year in South Africa alone, eight hundred to nine hundred children are reported missing, five thousand are assaulted, and two thousand are murdered. It is dangerous for children to play in their backyard because of the high probability of being abducted.
Before the institute class left, the Camilleris asked Nellie if there was anything more that could be done to help. Nellie said, “The thing we need most is a fence so these kids can go outside and play.” Linda wrote an email home about the conditions of the orphanage and the need for a fence. Without even being asked, friends and family back home started sending funds to help with the building of a fence.
“It took about four months for the money to come in.” Linda reports. “It is interesting how it happened even though we did not actually ever ask for any money at all. We just believe that the Spirit touched peoples’ hearts and they caught the vision of something so wonderful.”
Money came in so slowly during the course of the four months that the Camilleris weren’t certain the fence could be completed. They told Nellie about this uncertainty, but, Linda says, “Nellie just seemed to have more faith in our friends and family and trusted that we would come through. She really knew in her heart we would have the fence completed.” Nellie, a member of another Christian church, told the Camilleris, “I have faith that you’ll finish [the fence]. God will help you.”
An African man named Alike was put in charge of building the fence around the large area (approximately 600 by 600 feet). Alike was given the funds sent to the Camilleris to buy the tools and supplies needed for the fence. He had to mix the cement by hand and stack the cement blocks on top of one another. Because he had to wait for the cement blocks to harden before building more of the fence, it took Alike about three months to complete construction.
The Camilleris have recently returned from their mission to their home in Ontario, Canada. Because of their concern and the willingness of their friends and family to help, a few more children in South Africa are better protected today.