God's Golden Acre

 

God’s Golden Acre “Khayelihle” is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based near Cato Ridge, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1993 by Heather Reynolds in her own home in Wartburg, where she and her husband Patrick took care of 35 children and also started the outreach programme, supporting granny- and child-headed households in Swayimane and Trust Feed; providing food parcels and school fees. They managed for 7 years without financial support while the HIV pandemic took its toll on the already impoverished communities, until they were forced to move to larger premises to house the growing number of orphans, as well as more staff and volunteers. In 1999 they moved to the current premises near Cato Ridge. Now after 18 years it has grown into an effective project with a well-proven and credible track record of working within rural communities, alongside Government officials and Traditional leaders, with elected committees. We have developed successful programmes, aligned with government policy, in response to the needs of the communities. Countless lives have been changed, and approximately 150 children have been reintegrated into their communities during these 18 years.

Now more than 500 orphaned and vulnerable children, victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, and violence, are supported and educated in their extended families within their communities. Only as a last resort are they removed from their community and placed in our “ Khayelihle” Cluster Foster Care Centre, where 57 children have a safe, loving and happy home. Heather also started a choir in 1995 which later became known as The Young Zulu Warriors. They have toured many countries over the past 10 years, raising money for the outreach project and getting sponsors for the orphaned children in the rural communities.

Heather continues to lead the project with passion and dedication. Many of the children who were raised in her own home are now finishing their schooling, and five are at College or University. A biography of her life, called “Gods Golden Acre” tells a compelling story of the life and struggle of a woman determined to save the lives of orphaned and abandoned children, at a time when South Africa was undergoing major political changes, and the plight of these children was exacerbated by violence and poverty.

Over the years hundreds of volunteers have come to work alongside her and her team, resulting in a large network of people around the world, many of whom continue to support the project, and return to visit and volunteer. Through the volunteer programme,” Friends of Gods Golden Acre” have been established in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA. Gods Golden Acre has won numerous awards for the work that has been done; one of these was from The Centre For Social Justice Prize UK which nominated it the best NGO of 2007, and we won The International Award.