LFS Introduces…Carl & Michelle Waldron & Seed of Hope Community Development

Please introduce yourselves and tell us about how you got inspired to work with Seed of Hope…


We are Carl and Michelle Waldron.  Carl is a Canadian boy, and I, Michelle, was born in the good ole’ US of A.  Our paths crossed when we both signed up to go overseas as short-term missionaries as a one-year break from university.  We met during training for that year and started a friendship that eventually turned into romance and we married in August 1998.  Our passion has always been for cross-cultural missions. Carl has a degree in International Development and I am a Registered Nurse. The text we chose as our life’s guiding statement was from the Psalms:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67: 1-2

Seed of Hope is a community centre in the middle of an underserved, under-resourced Zulu community.  Our centre offers many different classes and programs.  We have 3 after school programs for differing age levels.  We provide HIV testing and counseling, offer 3 HIV support groups, teach vocational skills (i.e. sewing) to women in the community, encourage gardening, promote healthy lifestyle choices, etc.  Carl is the CEO of this small organization and I work with another nurse to lead the medical side of the ministry.  We are in a daily battle against HIV/AIDS and the stigma that prevents so many people from reaching out and getting help.

How did you get involved with Seed of Hope?

We have always shared a joint love of and interest in missions.  But God did not open doors for us to go overseas until we met a South African man named Derek Liebenberg.  We attended a gathering at a friend’s home, where Derek shared how God led him and his wife, Heather, to begin a community centre in a small rural community ravaged by HIV/AIDS, near Durban. By the end of his slideshow, we were ready to jump on a plane and come to South Africa to work with them.  We gradually began that process, but unfortunately, he passed away from a sudden heart attack before we made the big move. Carl was asked to step into the CEO’s role. We finally arrived on African soil in June 2007 and have been working with Seed of Hope, ever since.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Seed of Hope?

We are praying for an opportunity to buy or long-term lease the buildings we currently rent to do our ministry. This would allow our organization to expand and grow in ways that have been hindered until now.  We also have several new staff coming on board this year who will help us grow and reach even further into our community – and also bring leadership gifts to help fine tune the programs that already exist.

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

Michelle – I LOVE being in the homes of the people in the township we serve.  Just today I was in the home of a mom we helped last year to get tested for HIV and then get onto anti-retroviral medication.  To see her healthy and actually being able to care for her children is so rewarding.  And as I sit there visiting with her, she says, “can I take you to see my neighbor?  She is now sick.”  Of course!  So she takes me next door and there is another single mom – losing the battle with AIDS…finally willing to reach out for help.

Carl – My role is more about looking ahead at how we meet the challenges of a growing number of child-headed households, the need for entrepreneurship and agricultural training, and developing leaders within our staff and the wider community who can come up with new ideas to face these issues. I also share the vision of what God’s doing in our community through Seed Of Hope, and invite others to join in and support our work in whatever way they’re able.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

Seeing children being orphaned over and over again.  A lot of them are initially orphaned by their mom, who often succumbs first to HIV.  Then sometimes by their dad, and finally by their grandmothers, who usually end up caring for them, until they become too old or pass away. Along with that emotional strain is the challenge of relating across many different cultural, linguistic, economic and racial lines, all the cause of drawing each person involved a little closer together over time.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

Friends and family in Canada support us.  Our church in St. Albert, Alberta is the biggest supporter for us, financially, with prayer, and with love! We’ve also made friends from the UK, USA, Australia and many other places over the last few years.

Our website has links to various means of joining in with what we’re doing.

Do you partner with any other organisations?

Yes, we partner with many organizations.  Some local, like the Amanzimtoti Pregnancy Resource Centre, or Bobbi Bear, a local NGO that provides counseling for children who have suffered sexual assault and abuse.  Others include Durban-based Soul Action, local churches in Amanzimtoti such as Oasis Church and Amanzimtoti Methodist.  And we also partner with some international organizations.  Seed of Hope Canada and RESKU International in the United States are the main international partners.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about doing something similar to what you are doing?

Take the time and energy needed to get a good handle on the culture and language of the people you are serving. This will make your time more enjoyable, your impact more lasting, and your relationships deeper. Also, prepare well by learning as much as possible about where you’re going, visiting in advance, and cultivating a habit of being laid back, gracious and humble. Accepting that you have much to learn, being patient with delays and inadequate services, and being willing to accept tasks that help others achieve their goals even if they seem unrewarding to you at the time.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with?

We welcome prayer support.  South Africa has a high rate of violent crime, so we love to hear when people are praying for us and for our staff at the Centre!  We are also in the process of buying the property and then doing some renovating to accommodate expanded programs/classes… so any financial support would be gladly received. We do have space for occasional volunteer placements, depending on skills and international experience. We’d love to hear from people interested.

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Pray that more people (particularly the men) will come for HIV testing, pray that the stigma will be reduced, pray for the massive orphan crisis that South Africa is facing. We would value prayer for the health and safety of our organization staff and volunteers, and for favour as we build relationships with local government, rural Zulu tribal and nearby city authorities in our region.

Thank you so much Carl & Michelle for sharing with us. I feel so blessed to have met you in person and to have spent time working with the Seed of Hope team, and have such fond memories of my short time there last summer. Hopefully by what you’ve shared people may understand why many of us are missing everyone there so much!

For more information on Seed of Hope Community Development, check out their website www.theseedofhope.org . You can also follow Carl’s Blog and Michelle’s Blog.

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