Victor Experiences Dramatic Life Change

Victor (privacy name) came to the Fish Hoek Dream Center like most kids — a bit broken. He had potential written all over him, but struggled in school and faced chaos at home. How would he find a path forward?

Fortunately, Victor leaned into tutoring and mentoring. Ron Townsend, co-director at the Dream Center, invested countless hours into helping Victor find his way. One big connection was Ron coaching Victor in baseball, a growing sport in South Africa. Through baseball, Victor experienced teamwork, hard work, discipline and joy.

Victor also grew spiritually. Ron and the rest of the DC team regularly share devotions with the kids. This led to Victor choosing to follow Jesus. Victor now had cornerstone on which to build his life.

Victor took another giant step forward when he asked to be baptized. He and another student, Aliza (privacy name), were baptized last year by Ron and Mary Veltman, one of our Dream Center instructors. Two lives with beautiful futures.

As a faith-based organization, we celebrate these moments. Regardless of the challenges that Victor faces going forward, he will have a foundation of faith to lean on, his educational success, and the support of the Fish Hoek Dream Center community.

Prior Struggles

Here’s a look back at where Victor was in 2019 shortly after coming to the Dream Center. At the end of the first term of that school year, Victor was failing math, despite his participation in ER’s South Africa Dream Center.

Dream Centre KidsHe continually struggled in school. When Victor was in first grade, his mother lost her leg in a train accident. Victor’s grandparents have been raising him and his sister. During the chaos of so much change, Victor’s grades suffered and he had to repeat first grade.

To experience incredible tragedy at a young age, it’s not hard to see why Victor has struggled in school. Since his mother’s accident, she has been in and out of their lives.

Victor had an especially difficult time transitioning from third to fourth grade as his schooling had not prepared him properly. This put him at a great disadvantage, but he was prepared to work. He stayed after school to work on math with his teacher and he brought his homework to the Dream Center where he received one-on-one attention.

Victor persevered through extra tutoring and assignments, but it was still unclear if all of his work would translate when taking exams. These challenging exams were new for Victor. For three straight weeks, Victor put his all into studying.

The results were…incredible.

His grades were outstanding! Victor raised his scores by a full grade level in each subject thanks to his diligent work. He even earned a special merit badge for his improvement, making Victor the first Dream Center child to receive the badge so far. They are usually awarded only to older children.

This was a huge accomplishment, especially considering the chaos going on in his home.

Victor faced more change and heartbreak as he was fighting so hard to succeed. Despite all the turmoil, Victor overcame. He entered those exams prepared, ready to demonstrate his knowledge.

Keep scrolling to read about more kids like Victor.

*Portions of this story written by Alyssa Carrel.


Fish Hoek First Graders Dream Big

One of our favorite activities is “onboarding” new kids to our Dream Centers. We challenge them to dream big by asking them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Our Grade 1 students in Fish Hoek recently had fun thinking about that question and ER’s Dawn Carnill captured the results (see these photos plus more in the Read More link).

Dawn shares: “They’re learning to dream big dreams. They’ve just finished their first school term and have all jumped right into our schedule, rules and relationships with our staff and older kids.

“They are funny, fierce, independent, inquisitive, hard working and love to give hugs.”

Dream Center co-director Amy Townsend said we have six new Grade 1 children. “Fun fact: All of the new children are younger siblings of children already attending the Dream Center. We have 37 children in total, representing 26 families, many from settlements like Masiphumelele or Oceanview.

“Six schools are represented at the Dream Center. Two of the schools have returned full time (five days a week). The remaining four schools are alternating days. So, some kids go Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday, Thursday. The others goes the opposite – Tuesday, Thursday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Other schools go either Monday, Wednesday and alternating Fridays or Tuesday, Thursday and opposite Friday. The schedule is confusing, but it works!

“While the schools here are not currently doing distance learning, the kids still have lots of work sent home for their “days off”. The days off count as school days so they often have worksheets, projects or something to do.

“We still have all the COVID regulations in place – masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer everywhere, cleaning schedule, etc. Typically, we have 20-24 kids at a time.”


Rayne Dishes Healthy Food in Fish Hoek

This story was provided by our Fish Hoek Dream Center Team, located near Cape Town, South Africa.

The kids at the Fish Hoek Dream Center (DC) struggle with school projects. Their families may not be able to secure the materials needed.  The homes they live in may not have the space to work on the projects or even the basic supplies. Parents may not be able to help because of work schedules or language barriers. Sometime they just need someone to walk through the process with them. That’s when our DC staff can come alongside of our kids and not just help out, but also cultivate deeper relationships.

For most school projects, the kids can find what they need from Aunty Amy’s (Townsend) supply closet. But this past week, one of our Grade 6 girls had a different kind of school project. Rayne* needed to create a recipe, research the nutritional value of the ingredients, and make the dish for a class presentation.

Rayne came to our staff and asked for help in getting the ingredients and if we thought it would be okay if she made the dish a week ahead of time. Aunty Dawn (Carnill) asked if she would be able to keep the food in a refrigerator after she cooked it. Rayne replied that it just wasn’t possible to do that at her house. So, a cooking day at Uncle Nick (Carnill) and Aunty Dawn’s house was planned.

We were able to take Rayne shopping for the three main ingredients she needed: chicken thighs, pasta and broccoli. We talked through how the items are priced and added up the cost.  After a quick drive through for food, we began our cooking adventure. She expertly seasoned and fried the chicken, having done that many times before for her family. We talked through steaming the broccoli and the amount of salt to use (she loved using Uncle Nick’s electric salt grinder). As her completed dish cooled, we made a pan of brownies for her to take home and watched an episode of a cooking show she’d never seen before. Time was spent laughing, sharing about favorite foods, family traditions, cooking shows, school, and life in general.

As she finished stirring up her chicken and pasta dish, she proudly held up the pot with a huge smile on her face and exclaimed, “Nailed it!”

She sure did!

Rayne* (name changed for privacy) has been a part of the DC since she started first grade. She was one of the original 16 kids when we opened the center. Her family is originally from Malawi, moving to South Africa when she was 5. It was then she began to learn English. She lives in a nearby township on a plot of land with quite a few other families.


Dream Center Provides Pathway of Hope for Thabo

In a few months, “Thabo” will celebrate his 12th birthday. Ideally, no child should have to face the challenges he is enduring.

Thabo’s family is Xhosa and hail from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. They settled near Cape Town, South Africa, to escape oppression and poverty. Thabo is a fun-loving boy who loves to joke, play and tell silly stories. He loves asking questions about anything. He plays well with others, but often prefers to hang out with adults and talk.

Thabo’s parents separated earlier this year and this has affected him greatly. We have seen him withdraw and become angry. With time and lots of love, he is adjusting to life without his father’s presence. It has been a hard year for the family. Thabo has an older brother who hangs out at the Dream Center occasionally and a younger sister who also attends.

Hope for the Future

Recently, Thabo’s life took a huge positive turn. He had been asking Ron Townsend (Fish Hoek Dream Center co-director) lots of questions about faith and made a decision to invite Christ into his life. Thabo is meeting with “Uncle Ron” for regular Bible study and will be baptized on Nov. 13!

Thabo also is bright. He is a grade 5 learner at Fish Hoek Primary School. His marks in the foundation phase of his education have been excellent and his teacher describes him as a “hard worker.”

Despite his intelligence, Thabo is at risk for dropping out of school because of his family and economic situations, as well as cultural indifference toward education. Without intervention, he’s a strong candidate to head down the wrong path. We offer another path.

This is why the Dream Center is so vital. When we see a child like Thabo, we see tremendous potential. We’re working with his family, providing him with nutritious meals and pouring into him through homework help, mentoring and spiritual encouragement.


Dream Center Raises the Roof

Our second Dream Center campus in FIsh Hoek, South Africa just received a super valuable fabric roof to keep the children warmer in the winter and out of the sun in the summer. The impact of the roof is visually impressive. It helps connect the sea containers we are using for classrooms, while providing a shaded area for kids to read, play and exercise.

Thank you ER donors for helping make this possible. The roof enhances the campus and helps keep the kids healthy.



New Classroom Shows Up at Perfect Time

June 23, 2020

You’ve heard that “God works in mysterious ways”. In the case of the Fish Hoek Dream Center, God worked in a beautifully perfect way.

Last year, a short-term team of volunteers traveled from Florida to South Africa to serve the Fish Hoek community. While there, they asked about providing a sea container to expand our after-school campus. We didn’t have an immediate need, but agreed it would be a great investment.

Team members returned home, shared the need and raised funds (about $13,000). Our ER Africa staff ordered the container prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It appears God knew we would need the extra space for the kids when it came time reopen the Dream Center.

Well, we’re about to reopen the Fish Hoek Dream Center and the sea container is the solution we didn’t know we needed. It even arrived early, giving us time to prep and clean it. We’ll reopen at 50% of our normal occupancy and phase in more kids as we’re allowed. With this new classroom, we’ll have room for all the kids and still meet social distancing requirements.

We’re also grateful that the company we hired to do the work was able to obtain the shipping container, install windows and doors, install interior wall panels, insulation and lights, and set the container in place in a timely fashion.

We can’t thank the short-term team enough for the container and other donors who have supplied funds for masks, food staples and emergency supplies during the pandemic.


Dream Center Kids Learn to Play Baseball

By Amy Townsend, Fish Hoek Dream Center Co-Director

Dream CenterOur Dream Center (DC) kids are learning a new sport. While baseball is not as popular in South Africa as rugby, cricket or soccer, there is an active league here in Cape Town so we encouraged the kids to try it.

So far, two Grade 5 DC boys, Andre* and Victor*, are participating in the league, which  runs from October to March. We joined the league late, but we wanted join now to see how the club ran before getting too involved. Andre and Victor often retrieve their gloves right after they’ve finished their homework and this is creating curiosity and interest among the other kids.

Dream Center KidsRon (Townsend, Co-Director) had to teach the boys how to put their hand in the glove and how to hold the bat. This was challenging because they are used to cricket. In addition to helping the boys learn baseball fundamentals, Ron is involved with practices and umpires the boys’ games.

Baseball equipment is very expensive here. So we put out a request for people to dig through their sports equipment and see if they had any old gloves to send.

As always the response we got was surprising. A donor quickly and sent over nine new gloves, three new bats and baseballs!

Dream Centre KidsExtracurricular activities are a big part of the education reinforcement strategy employed at ER Dream Centers. In addition to homework help, nutrition, mentoring and child/family/school engagement, we strive to give kids opportunities to experience sports, arts, culture, faith and community engagement. Our goal is to help these children grow into well-educated and self-sustaining adults who are leaders in their homes, workplaces and communities.

*Names changed for privacy



Dream Center Expansion Helps Kids Thrive

(May 24, 2019)

Do you have compassion for children who are at risk of dropping out of school? If so, then we have great news regarding our South Africa Dream Center!

ER is expanding our Dream Center near Cape Town. Thanks to generous donors, we were able to add a new campus to serve the older kids enrolled in our after-school program.

Three 40-foot containers and one 20-foot container arrived and were placed into position on May 6. Following that, the  electrical and the plumbing were installed. The containers will serve as classrooms and a bathroom.

The installation of these classrooms will have a huge impact the families who we serve, many of which live in local settlements. More than 70% (according to Time Magazine) of children drop out of school in the region because of poverty, language/cultural challenges and a lack of support. Sadly, many end up in gangs or prostitution and without hope.

The Dream Center is changing this. More than 30 kids are currently enrolled and, despite many challenges to overcome, they are thriving in school and tracking well toward graduation.

Dream Center Separates “Bigs” and “Littles”

The installation of the second campus allows us to separate the older kids from the younger ones per governmental requirements. This not only provides a safer environment and reduces congestion, but also makes classroom instruction far easier.

As these joyful kids dream about their futures, would you consider joining us as a short-term volunteer or staff? With two campuses and lots of kids, we need lots of help! Interested in traveling to beautiful South Africa? Email us at


I believe Education is the Greatest Stepping Stone

Donor Kim Matar lives in Columbia, TN, with her rescue dog, Cassidy, after relocating from Colorado Springs, CO, following the death of her husband Rick in 2018. Her parents, Ellis and Frankie Pitman, long-time volunteers with Extreme Response, live nearby.

Kim Matar hasn’t yet visited the Fish Hoek Dream Center, but that hasn’t stopped her from investing in the future of the vulnerable kids. Below Kim shares how the Dream Center impacts the kids, their families and herself.

Q. How did you first learn about the Fish Hoek Dream Center? 

A. Through an ER conference in Florida and Ron and Amy Townsend (co-directors).

Q. What do you like most about the Dream Center after-school programming?

A. The private Facebook updates Amy and the team post provide a captivating window. I really like that team members know, love and appreciate the kids’ unique – sometimes quirky – personalities. They receive personalized attention for their learning needs to help them succeed in school, regardless of their respective family or social situations. The DC is fun, yet offers discipline. Each child’s birthday is celebrated and they participate in contests and competitions that reinforce learning. I also like the ongoing investment in facilities because it shows the Center is both a physical and psychological safe haven for the kids.

“I believe education is the greatest stepping stone to enhancing a child’s life…”

Q. Why do you invest in Dream Center children?

A. I believe education is the greatest stepping stone to enhancing a child’s life, not only because of the personal skills acquired, but because education offers insight that one’s current circumstances do not have to be limited or repeated for generations. I cannot imagine what life would be like not being able to read or do math or have the social skills to interact with my neighbors. The Dream Center provides a “leg up” to help children conquer obstacles they may not feel equipped to handle otherwise. It tell parents that “your child is important!”

Q. What is your hope for the future the Dream Center kids?

Scholarship DonorA. My hope is that each child who has been a part of the Dream Center has the foundation to go to the “next thing” – secondary school, trade school or university – and believes in themselves; believes success and accomplishment are foregone conclusions rather than unfulfilled longings; and can look back at their time at the Dream Center and know they were loved by the team and by God Himself. They are fearfully and wonderfully made by God who has great plans for them.

Q. What special experiences have you gained through the Dream Center?

A. I love the success stories of the kids who start the year at one place and finish at a place beyond their imaginations. These stories delight me, bless me and encourage me to participate in their lives vicariously through the communications of the Townsends and other staff members.

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Surf’s Up: Why Toby is an Overcomer

By Amy Townsend, Dream Center Co-Director

(June 1, 2019)

“Toby” is a grade 4 learner at Star of the Sea. He is Congolese and his family speaks French in the home. Both parents work very long hours in the tourist industry. He faces many life challenges beyond school.

Toby is one of the first kids at the Dream Center. We met Toby in 2015 on the first day we went to a nearby pre-school. He was in the grade R class (kindergarten). He was quiet and didn’t interact much with the other kids. But he always had this big smile. He loved arts and crafts time but struggled with learning basic reading and math skills.

Toby was accepted into grade 1 at Star of the Sea despite his pre-school instructor telling his parents he wasn’t ready. Within three months of being in grade 1, we met with his teacher who quickly informed us that Toby wasn’t ready for school and WOULD NOT pass grade 1.

Her words were, “He’s too far behind already and doesn’t have the focus to catch up.” He worked so hard that year. Ron (Townsend – Dream Center co-director) got a call from his teacher during the last term of the year. She wanted to know what had happened…what had we done to make such a difference. She said “it just clicked with him and he is doing well.”

At the end of grade 1, Toby received an award for Most Improvement with a special designation from his teacher for his diligence and sweet spirit. His parents were overjoyed. With tears in his eyes, his father hugged Ron after the end of the year program and said he didn’t think Toby could do it.

Each school year has brought different challenges for Toby, but year after year his diligence and sweet spirit shines through. Toby still loves to draw and do any type of art. He still struggles with reading and math skills. But he is overcoming and learning how to learn in his own way.

Through different opportunities such as the Swim Like a Shark program and the surf day we had, Toby is learning he can overcome hard things.

Today, Toby is an Overcomer!

*Name changed for privacy.


Dream Center Brightens His World

By Alyssa Carrel

(Nov. 19, 2018)

JoJo’s* world is very dim. He is one of our Grade 1 learners and among all his struggles, on this day his biggest challenge is that he battles to see because he needs to wear sunglasses to protect his eyes.

JoJo comes into the Dream Center with a smile of mischief and a warm hug. He is quite a character.

The Dream Center has a reading challenge for the kids: 100 books in a school year. Many surpass this challenge and go on to read 200 and 300 books, but JoJo was falling behind in his 100-book quest.

We sat together for hours one afternoon, working hard to reach the 100-book mark that promised pizza. JoJo needed to wear sunglasses to protect his eyes but they made his work all that more difficult. He’d lift his glasses to squint at the page and I’d have to tell him to put them back down.

“It’s too dark. I cannot see,” he would say as he put them back in place.

We tried sitting outside where there was more light but that proved fruitless. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t help him. And yet, he never complained.

He never threw a fit or told me it was too hard. He just sat there, eyes glued to the page, trying to make out the letters.

JoJo read over 50 books in 3 days. He reached his 100-book goal which awarded him a bar of chocolate and a ticket to the pizza party.

JoJo persevered through the darkness to proudly reach his goal. He may be little, but he is fierce.

Each Dream Center child battles with obstacles like hunger, poor schooling and dangerous environments. They’re up against more then we could know and yet they face these obstacles head on, daring them to try and stand in their way.

*Named changed for privacy.


First Impressions From South Africa

By Mary Veltman 


Mary Veltman is a short-term volunteer from Michigan who recently arrived in South Africa where she is serving at ER’s South Africa Dream Center near Cape Town. Read her blog titled “New Friends”.

It was mind blowing to hear how some of the children have grown in the last nine months of the school year. Children who could hardly say the alphabet in January now have completed the 100- book reading challenge! Children who were withdrawn are now bubbly and full of laughter. I can’t wait to see the growth this next term brings.

These children are so full of life. This doesn’t always connect in my brain because, at the tender ages of 6-9, they have experienced so much hardship and yet can be so full of joy. As I learn more about each child, my heart is torn between aching for the things they have experienced and rejoicing for the healing that is taking place.

These children are inspiring. They are in the beginning stages of changing their futures. They are fighting for a better world. They are growing and learning and, even though they may not see it yet, they are developing in amazing ways.

These children push. They challenge everything, pushing boundaries and testing limits as they explore the world and community around them.

These children love. Deeply. I’m always greeted with hugs and kisses. They make pictures for every adult at the Dream Center. They ask so many questions and randomly come hold your hand. They’re searching for someone to give their love to and for someone to love them back.

These children are beautiful. Their eyes sparkle as their laughter fills the room. It’s breathtaking. It’s magical. It’s beautiful.

I hope these children never stop dreaming, never stop challenging, never stop loving, never stop laughing.


Swimming Like Sharks in South Africa

By Amy Townsend

(May 25, 2017)

“The next world renowned oceanographer or a world champion swimmer might be in this group,” said Amy Townsend.

It’s a little ironic that many kids who grow up in South Africa, which boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, have never swum in the ocean. But when you consider that children from impoverished communities struggle just to stay in school, get good nourishment and advance in life, it makes sense that beach vacations are out of reach.

So when a generous ER supporter offered to sponsor 13 Dream Center kids in the 10-week Swim Like A Shark program, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. The program meets once a week and serves Grade 2 kids who are seven to eight years old.

The program is operated by AfriOceans Conservation Alliance. The organization’s purpose is “Saving lives while nurturing the next generation of ocean guardians”.

Earlier this year, ER intern Madison Drescher sparked interest in swimming by providing basic lessons to some of the the Dream Center children. The Swim Like A Shark program takes swimming to the next level. The program teaches kids about the ocean, ocean animals and conservation, as well as how to swim in water with waves, currents and tides.

“We’re excited by the opportunity this presents for the kids,” said ER’s Amy Townsend. Our donor wants to get others involved in sponsoring all the grade 2 children. So this isn’t a one time thing, but something we hope will be part of the Dream Center for many years.”

Extracurricular Activities Help Shape Our Young “Sharks”

During the course of two years of the Dream Center programs, ER staff has learned that building young minds and bodies through sports, recreation and arts helps the kids become more confident, well-rounded and socially adept.

“We hope all of the children will be safe in the water and understand the ocean. As with all the extracurricular programs that the Dream Center children participate in, we hope that we will see some natural gifts and abilities come out of this program. The next world renowned oceanographer or a world champion swimmer might be in this group,” said Amy Townsend.

“One of the greatest joys of serving at the Dream Center is seeing the eyes light up when these kids find something that they are good at or realize that they can accomplish something they thought impossible,” said Ron Townsend.

“This program will help them be safe in the water. But more importantly it will help them grow into confident people who know that anything is possible. It helps break them out of their surroundings and dream big dreams.”


Big Dreams Require Hard Work

(March 16, 2017)

We’ve learned something while launching the South Africa Dream Center: It takes incredible effort to change the course of a child’s life. Sure, we knew tutoring, homework help and nutrition would be foundational to giving these kids a good chance of succeeding in their lives.

But we’ve seen that engaging them in activities is equally powerful for creating well-rounded, confident kids. We recently shared about Madison Drescher, an ER intern who is teaching. Now we want to share how sisters Hannah and Emily Townsend are using running and music to help more kids thrive.

Many of these kids are from local squatter settlements where learning to play music or joining a running club would be considered a luxury activity. Some are from refugee families who are learning a new language and culture.

Running Club Demonstrates the Value of Hard Work

Demonstrating wisdom beyond her years, 17-year-old Hannah Townsend shares why she started a running club for the Dream Center girls.

“The purpose of the running club is to help girls learn about taking care of their bodies and learning to push through situations that are hard” she said. “Big dreams require hard work. The girls are learning that they can work hard and succeed.”

If you visit the Dream Center, you might be invited to join the running club as Corey and Kaitlyn Carnill learned.

The kids have been running twice a week at Fish Hoek Sports Fields since January. Hannah leads them in doing different types of activities at each club meeting. They do sprints, long runs and relays along with stretching and conditioning. ER’s Lindsey Fisher assists in working with the girls.

The club includes eight girls, four in grade 2 and four in grade 1. Their goal is to run a 5K at the end of term 2, which is at the end of June.

“We see the a lot of the girls getting stronger physically, but more importantly they are beginning to believe more in themselves,” Hannah said. “They know if they work hard they can do whatever they set their minds to.

“They also are learning how to work in teams and with each other. Some of the girls have a lot of natural ability and talent that they are beginning to recognize.”

Music Club Helps DC Kids Blossom

Music is proving to be another great tool to help the kids develop.

Emily Townsend surrounded by her music students.

“Some of the kids who are shy and quiet are really coming out of their shells,” 19-year-old Emily Townsend said. “Some of them are very talented and I am seeing their self-confidence grow as they learn music. The music lessons also help reinforce their alphabet learning.”

Emily is teaching the kids music theory and the basics on a keyboard. Six kids have been attending the club since January.

Teaching  kids with little musical skill and diverse backgrounds has been a rewarding challenge.

“So far they have learned Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, Emily said. “We would like to have a recital at the end of the year and invite parents to attend.”


Dream Center No Longer a Dream

By Amy Townsend, ER South Africa

(Nov. 10, 2105)

When you visit a squatter settlement in South Africa, you immediately realize how devastatingly unfair the world can be, especially for kids. These communities can stretch on for miles and contain thousands of children — all of them at risk for HIV/AIDS, TB, abuse, malnutrition, poverty and hopelessness.

It would be easy for ER’s South Africa staff, volunteers and partners to be overwhelmed by the scale of the need. Yet the size of the challenge has instead driven our team to think more creatively and strategically.

Could we give these kids a real chance to break out of the vicious cycle in which they tumble? Could we provide enough nutrition, security and structured early- and after-school learning opportunities to allow them to prosper? Do we dare dream that their lives will be filled with hope and tangible opportunities for a better life?

Yes, Yes, and Yes!

Townsend girls and GLL kidsWe are pleased to announce that our dreams are turning into reality with the launch of the ER South Africa Dream Center near Cape Town. The Dream Center will serve alongside Victory Kids (VK), with support from ER partner ATAIM, to provide a safe early and primary learning environment for children at risk for falling behind academically. We want to help children learn to dream big dreams and reach their potential.

“The Dream Center is a dream come true for ER as well, as for the parents and kids we serve,” said ER President and CEO Jerry Carnill. Although the need is great,  we have the right staff in place and a strong legacy to follow. This will be life changing for everyone involved.”

Currently, kids fall behind as they leave VK to attend a local public school. Now the Dream Center will provide a safe after-school tutoring and homework help program to enable these kids to succeed academically. The Dream Center also will partner with schools and parents to ensure the children remain on course with his or her academic studies and provide opportunities for them to develop their talents.

The Little Things Matter

Take the example of Mbali* a very quiet and shy little girl. The youngest of four children, her parents have struggled recently with the loss of a job and had to move into Masiphumelele. At the beginning of the school year, it was obvious that Mbali needed glasses. During story time, she would squint and eventually lose interest in the story. She could not color in the lines or print her name. Teachers sent several notes home, but there just wasn’t money to have her eyes checked.

That’s when ATAIM, VK teachers and ER worked together to get her an eye exam. Now Mbali has some wonderful glasses that help her see things more clearly. Her school work improved immediately and she no longer struggles to see. Caring teamwork gave Mabil a chance for a better future.

To get started, the Dream Center will focus on meeting the needs of 15 children from the nearby settlement of Masiphumelele. The kids are mostly older children who attended Victory Kids, so they are familiar with ER staff and volunteers. They are primed and ready to learn.

Funding the Dream Center After-School Program
A new report from researchers at the University of San Francisco reveals that sponsored children are more likely to graduate both secondary school and college, have salaried employment and be leaders in their communities. Sponsorship makes children 27%-40% more likely to complete secondary school and 50%-80% more likely to complete a university education.

This is why the Dream Center name is so appropriate. You see, poverty causes children to have low self-esteem and aspirations. But a scholarship helps expand children’s views about their own possibilities. With education, we help each child realize he or she is a special gift that can benefit their community, and we encourage them to develop aspirations for their future.

*Mbali’s name was changed in this article as a matter of privacy

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