2015 #MyGivingStory Award Winner

By Suzanne Deeren


The women of Timbali Crafts have inspired me to give my time and energy to their ministry that is changing lives. Six years ago, on my first trip to Swaziland, my heart was broken. Everything I saw led me to the conclusion that life for these rural families is about survival. This tiny country at the tip of South Africa has one of the highest AIDS/HIV+ rates and lowest life-expectancies in the world. In a population of less than one million, there are estimated to be more than 140,000 orphans.

Life is difficult. Most of the Timbali women live without electricity or running water and very little food. There is no way to explain what seeing, holding and feeling this kind of need does to your heart. Everything I do to promote this ministry is done with the faces of these struggling mothers and children in mind.

One of the most admirable things about the women of Timbali Crafts is that they give back despite their own struggles. The Timbali women are all volunteer cooks at local feeding centers. They cook one hot meal 6 days a week for the vulnerable children and orphans in their communities. That meal is the only meal most of the children receive each day. The 110 women of Timbali Crafts help feed over 3,000 children daily. The Timbali women also face other hardships; most are either widowed or abandoned, and many are single mothers or grandmothers raising their orphaned grandchildren.

These women are loving and serving others in their communities. When I saw the beautiful hand-made Timbali products these women sew I wanted to help them in any way I could. Every Timbali purchase helps provide a much needed income to enable them to feed their children, pay school fees and meet their family's immediate physical needs. Timbali Crafts shines with such bright hope and is changing the lives of these hard-working women and their families who would otherwise have little or no resources.

My family has chosen to lead an active effort to support Timbali Crafts year-round by selling the products that the Timbali women create. We travel (at least monthly) to sell and promote Timbali Crafts at various conferences and festivals in the Midwest. It is my privilege to volunteer my time to exhibit at these various events. All of the money that I receive from selling these crafts goes back to the Timbali ministry. My payment is seeing the smiling faces of the Timbali women on my return trips to Swaziland. It is these women who are making a huge difference in thousands of orphans' lives every day.

Giving my time and energy to the Timbali Crafts women and their families has become a passion for me; a way for me to reach out with the love of Christ half-way around the world from Swaziland.

Written in support of Timbali Crafts.