A little background first about Oliver and KAS.
In the very early days of knit-a-square.com (late 2008), we were introduced to Oliver Quambusch, founder of Hotel Hope, through Ronda who had been invited to be on their board.
We were finding our way, trying to work out how we would make and dispatch blankets once (if) the squares arrived and so a connection with Oliver and his outreach work with young pregnant women and orphaned children was a beacon, a way forward and one we were deeply grateful to make.
Oliver is an earthbound angel. One of those people who shines goodness in all they say and do. He is a deeply convicted Christian who left his high powered European job after visiting South Africa on a business trip.
Greatly moved by the plight of the children, and called to do this as he described it to us, he determined he would return to live in South Africa and set up small homes for up to 8 children with a ‘live-in’ mother and proxy aunties, uncles and god-parents who would constitute as real a family as possible for orphaned children.
To that end he bought two small terrace-like houses in a bohemian part of Johannesburg and set about raising funds to renovate them.
When we met for tea in March this year, both homes were nearly complete. Already there was an atmosphere of activity and warmth and homeliness, even though the second home remained empty yet of it’s residents. Oliver had been bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape for nearly two years, although happily that was just a week or so away from resolution. None of this did anything to dampen his enthusiasm and love for the project and the people whom he had already been helping.
He has set up many programs, in particular an outreach program for young pregnant women who may have been shunned by their communities or have been compelled to take up sex work. The peril of HIV/AIDS stalks most of these young women, some of them as young as 13 where physical abuse most likely resulted in their predicament.
While we were there, Erin Lowrie who works part-time for KasCare in South Africa and is a doula (someone who provides non-medical support to a woman up to and leading to the delivery of their baby) was involved in her very first case, helping one of Oliver’s young girls. Erin was called into educate and support a small, frightened girl of 13, just weeks away from the birth of her child. The family had not thrown this child out as is often the case, but were so ashamed they had hidden her under a bed for much of her confinement, so as to hide her condition from outsiders. It is almost impossible to imagine the horror of this for one so young.
Oliver reaches out to these families, to support and educate them. He is passionate about teaching abstinence through schools and church communities and tireless in his pursuit of reducing the impact of these intertwined social inheritances, community breakdown, HIV/AIDS and poverty.
What was so compelling about meeting Oliver, was that nothing appeared to daunt him, he just saw an opportunity to help in every situation that he was confronted with. Truly an earthbound angel.
Part Two: Oliver, a special needs school and the dump families