Becky Young describes herself as “a wife of a wonderful husband, a mother of two beautiful daughters, and a grandmother to our first granddaughter.” But to the street children of Mabopane, South Africa, she is much more than that—she is their protector and provider.
Young was living the typical American mom’s life, focusing on loving her family. But she opened her heart to an additional family when she heard a pastor from Mabopane, South Africa share in her daughter’s youth group at their former church. Young, who now attends Colonial, remembered: “[The pastor] talked about being a street child himself, and how other street children were living in dumps and train stations. He explained how a church congregation had reached out to some of these kids.”
The pastor’s words sank deep into Young’s heart. She wanted to go to South Africa and meet the children. She said, “I found myself six months later joyfully taking my Lord by His hand. He led me all the way. I had never left my family... I had never left or gone anywhere on my own. I was just totally trusting and very excited about what the Lord had to show me there, and it’s there that I met kids who were in such need. I realized on the first trip that the kids could not hear the Word of God, because they would go sometimes three and four days without a mouthful of anything. [When I] got on the plane and came back, I remember just crying and asking the Lord, what was I to do? I didn’t have a college education, my family and I did not have a lot of money so that we could help financially—I just really felt the Lord was saying, ‘Do something.’”
Young returned to America with a burden on her heart. The Scripture God gave her at that time was “Feed my sheep.” Young wanted to raise money to help the street children. She organized community yard sales, and one hundred percent of the money was used to buy school supplies, shoes, and groceries for the needy children halfway around the world. Young said, “So as people began hearing more about it and wanting to give as well, we proceeded with the application process for a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. Thankfully, in 2003, we got our nonprofit status.”
Young knew she wanted to do more for the children of South Africa than send them material things. After finding a permanent place for their yard sales, the Mission House located off Highway 64 in Apex, Young wanted to build actual homes for the orphans, so they would not have to live in shelters anymore. She said, “After years and years of working with shelters and working with the children there, the Lord just really showed us that what these children really needed was a glimpse of what home life is about. Many of these children, even after graduating from college through the Mabopane Foundation’s assistance, didn’t know how to be a family.”
Now the Mabopane Foundation houses orphans in Ya Bana Village. “Ya Bana” means “For the children” in Tswana, the language spoken in Mabopane. Ya Bana houses more than thirty-five children, who live in cluster homes in groups of six with a “house mom” to care for them. The children who live there range in age from one to sixteen.
The Mabopane Foundation is ambitious. Along with plans to build a youth living center that will house eighteen students in continuing education, Young has created sustainability projects, which include gardening, recycling, and selling donated items affordably to needy people who live in the Mabopane area.
The Mabopane Foundation could never function without its tireless volunteer force. Volunteers do most of the work at the foundation, sorting and selling items at the mission house, managing the website, making baked goods for the bake sales, and bookkeeping. Mabopane needs more volunteers to do these things, and they even need young people to help with smaller tasks. Currently, the Mabopane Foundation team is praying for an IT person, and someone to help them market online. And as Young said, “We always, always would love prayer warriors to be added to our prayer warrior team!”
If you would like to volunteer for the Mabopane Foundation, visit their website at www.mabopanekids.org or email them at email@example.com. Whether you are able to volunteer twice a week or once a month, the foundation needs you! The next yard sale at the Mission House will be Friday afternoon, June 29 and from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, June 30. The Mission House is located at 3913 Highway 64 in Apex. You can visit to shop, donate, or both!
Young said, “My favorite part of all is getting to go twice a year and spend time with the kids, and getting all of their hugs and kisses and love.” Help put smiles on the faces of Ya Bana’s children—volunteer!
“[The pastor] talked
about being a street
child himself, and how
other street children
were living in dumps
and train stations.”
Written by Evie Fordham
Evie is a rising high school sophomore, and she loves her job as an almost-reporter. She is also a member of the Christian Youth Theatre.