Between Valentine’s Day and (now nearly) Mother’s Day this blog community has raised $32,384 toward a community center in South Africa!!

Yup, you read that right: $32,384!

That’s $5,000 for a sustainable, community vegetable garden.

That’s $3,050 for a playground for 250 kids.

And $24,009 for the first half of the community center building – the half that houses the kitchen, bathrooms, and admin center.

And we’re only $15,992 away from fully funding that first half of the community center.

So if you’re fighting the ache of being disappointed this Mother’s Day – won’t you come do this with us!

Help finish building a kitchen in South Africa for mothers a world away and see motherhood and your own messy kitchen as anything but ordinary through her eyes.

This is me. Standing on the hot, red, soil of South Africa where we hope to build the center. Inviting you into the story.

Click here to see the video if you’re reading in an email.

What if this Mother’s Day we stopped keeping score of what we did or didn’t receive and instead we gave BIG?


These kids? They’re not strangers. They’re my family and friends.




I have three adopted siblings from this town and my parents, brothers, and sisters all still live in South Africa and connect me umbilical-like to the country that runs in my veins.

This is my dad. He’s a doctor. He says that all he ever really wanted was to be a preacher. But instead God just keeps giving him children. We tell him that sounds like Gospel to us.

3CiMaubane198 copy


This is his wife, Wanda. I tell her story in my book – how she knit our family back together after my mom died with faith and lots and lots of kids.


And this is the Maubane community praying over the plans for the community center. Before there was ever any hope of funding to make them a reality. That’s Pastor Norman on the left and my dad, Peter, on the right.


Along with the local community and my parents’ church – all praying over the plans they had no clue how to finance.



Until we said that the crazy big number wasn’t too big for a committed community to tackle.

Until we said, “We’re in.”

Until we decided that the best thing we can do for our children is invite them into someone else’s story.

And the best thing we can do for ourselves is serve someone else to fight off our fear of missing out.


Until Help One Now contacted local South African organizations Take Action and the James 1:27 Trust to partner and make it possible to invite you into the story.

Because what if while we rocked our babies or waited up for our teenagers, while we commuted to work, while we peeled the potatoes we were able to teach our kids what it looks like to love on the world next door?





For three years every Sunday they’ve been gathering for church on this vacant piece of land. For church and holidays, trainings, workshops and community celebrations.

Out here in the dust and the dirt is where they gather.

Where they serve meals.

Where they celebrate community events.

Where they meet for trainings sponsored by the South African NGO – Take Action.




The community has received permission from the local tribal council and government to build a community center on this land. 

Imagine a big community hall with kitchens and admin buildings, bathrooms and storage facilities, classrooms and training rooms and before and after school care spaces.

Imagine a place that would provide shelter from the sun, the dirt and the dust to serve meals and practice hospitality for a community whose meals and trainings and services usually look like this:





The kitchen and welcome center will be the first part of the entire community center, each additional part designed by the architect so that they can be added on building by building.

By starting with the admin building a community of 400 will now have access to:

A base of operations – for the 20-30 volunteers who serve the weekly church meetings that currently take place under an open air shelter that was donated by a local church in Pretoria. What started as 15 kids has now grown to 250-300 children and 100 adults every Sunday for the last three years.

Hygienic Food Preparation – every second Sunday the volunteer group, Take Action, provides food and drinks to the community. But no running water, no kitchen, no bathrooms make it challenging to serve so large a group of people.

Sanitationthis portion of the community center will include male and female restrooms (5 stalls each).

Facilities for the caretaker – who will farm the vegetable garden and provide security and maintenance for the community center site.

Conference Room – for launching economic empowerment with training classes in job skills, early childhood development and HIV/AIDS training for the community.

Safe storage for all the tables, chairs and equipment that serves the church and is currently stored in Pastor Norman’s house.

So won’t you be brave and come and join a community of women who are proving all over again that we are all of us called to mother. Come and BE a mother this Mother’s Day.

And give instead of being disappointed by what you didn’t get.



Click here to be the gift this Mother’s Day!

And then invite your family, your kids, your friends to join our virtual Mother”s Day celebration  —

Click to tweet this or copy and paste it into the Facebook share below:

Sometimes you change the world 1 carrot, 1 kid, 1 brick, 1 classroom, 1 mom at a time. #SurprisedByMotherhood → click to tweet

Love is more than a date on the calendar. Fall in love with the world next door. #SurprisedByMotherhood →  click to tweet

There is NOTHING ORDINARY about being a mom, especially to hundreds of kids who don’t have one. #SurprisedByMotherhood →  click to tweet


Buy a custom Mother’s Day Necklace and $12 will be donated to this project

KraftyKash one word necklaces

My friend Krafty Kash has created three custom necklaces and will donate half the price of each to this project. Choose from the words Love, Home or Mother and give a gift that helps us be the gift.

Let’s get this thing done – let’s build us a community center kitchen for Mother’s Day this year!

All photos by Patrick Black and Yorke Rodda.