From humble beginnings, one woman’s dream gave birth to a project of love that has changed the lives of thousands of Welkom children over the past two decades.
Like the celestial body it emulates, the dream of Joan Adams, the founder of Morning Star, has expanded to encompass and encourage everyone around it.
“When the Morning Star Children’s Centre opened its doors for the first time on 24 January 2000, it was a huge ‘step out in faith’ moment for me. I was scared stiff. I can remember thinking to myself, ‘Joan, what on earth are you embarking on? What are you getting yourself into?’”
Adams started the centre with eight children and four staff members.
Now, 20 years later, Morning Star in Welkom cares for up to 150 children every week, ranging in age from one year to about 12.
Morning Star currently has 44 employees on the payroll, all with specific job descriptions to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.
Morning Star opened a second centre in Kutlwanong, Odendaalsrus in 2007. With overseas funding, they were able to establish a facility big enough to accommodate up to 40 children from the very impoverished informal settlement.
“My dream was small, and I felt sure I could run with it: a Christian centre, where children born with HIV/AIDS could find love and care before they died from this dreadful disease that was ravaging their little bodies and causing them to suffer so much pain, isolation and rejection by society,” she says.
Adams remembers that she faced a lot of negativity surrounding her decision to reach out to these children in those first days.
She was asked why she wanted to reach out to children who were going to die anyway, and people advised her to rather invest her time and energy in children who would go on to live healthy lives.
“But God had laid this dream upon my heart and there was no stopping it,” says Adams.
Adams says she never dreamed that any of the children would survive the HIV/AIDS pandemic. She says people – and children especially – were dying in alarming numbers.
“In our early years we’d bury 20 to 30 little ones per annum and sometimes lose three to four children per month. It was heartbreaking to see them suffer and then pass away before they’d even started to live.”
Over the past 20 years, 2 800 children have passed through Morning Star’s doors.
“I am about to hand Morning Star over to a new general manager, Albert Duvenhage. He is set to take the organisation forward into the next 20 years, and I am confident he will develop as deep a passion for this ministry as I’ve always had,” says Adams.
She will not be leaving Morning Star, and will exchange her managerial position for the role of brand ambassador.
“How could I ever leave Morning Star? I’ve given my life to serve the beautiful children we’re sent to care for each year and, for as long as I am able, will continue to make a difference in as many lives as I can.
“What an awesome privilege was mine, to be able to speak into the lives of hundreds of families all these years.”
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