A Welcome of Thanks

Thank you for your prayers and financial support for my South Africa trip to work with the Emthonjeni HIV/AIDS Care Center! The wellness team I was a part of was led by Dr. Jeanette Callahan, a pediatrician at Cambridge Health Alliance of Harvard Medical School. While she provided the medical needs, I was charged to involve the orphaned children (grades K-12) with an opportunity to be creative, using art, and movement workshops to instill a positive sense of self, community, and spirituality. This experience allowed the children to know that they are important to God and their community.

It was a pleasure serving and leading the children’s workshop. This was the first time that many of the children learned about and used art supplies of any kind. It was wonderful to see them express themselves! Thanks to your prayers and financial support, we were able to raise enough money to cover the cost of the art supplies and shipping.

Additionally, a retreat was organized and held for Emthonjeni staff to discuss self-care, grief, loss, and bereavement.  This workshop gave staff some down time to reflect, recharge their thoughts, share their stories in memory of loved ones lost, and focus on ways they can practice self-care.  The staff’s participation, eagerness to learn, and sharing were very encouraging to everyone present. Later in the week, staff arranged for me to meet with Emthonjeni’s foster mothers. The meeting provided a space for grieving their many losses, building up their support system, and exploring ways to manage the losses of the children under their care. As a result the mothers decided to have regular monthly meetings to support each other!

Additionally, we visited and consulted with the local school that many of the Emthonjeni children attend. Psycho-education was provided on learning disabilities and mental health symptoms that may interfere with academic learning. It was a great experience for all as we discussed and affirmed the teachers in their work and provided them with additional support they needed to continue to impact and impart life to the children in their care. 

Lastly, we were able to participate in a fundraiser and celebrate the years of service Emthonjeni has provided to their youth and community. I ministered in dance as well as learned some African dance from the children!

Overall, it was a wonderful experience! I was served as much as I served others. It was an honor to forge friendships and partnerships with the Emthonjeni staff and my South African brothers and sisters in Christ. I am looking forward to serving and fellowshipping more with them in the future. Thank you very much for your help in this very important ministry work!

Also want to extend a special THANK YOU to Daniel Callahan who is responsible for taking most of the pictures and video footage used on the site!

Please enjoy the site!

God Bless,

Asha M. Ragin, Ph.D.

South Africa - Emthonjeni
Art Mission Trip