Tuesday, April 07, 2009


It’s a joy to be here at Ebenezer Care Center in Johannesburg, South Africa with the 150 volunteers from Urban Saints in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Bill Hebner from Urban Saints has set up two tent cities, one for the males and another for the females along with kitchen and bathroom accommodations.

Tommy and Shirley, the Directors of Ebenezer have their busy as they can be as they support the regular 135 residents of the orphanage and in addition to the 120 refugees that have just arrived. The UN Representatives arranged to have 8 families come out to stay at Ebenezer. When the buses and trucks arrived, they brought more than 120 refugees. These are people that had lived in South Africa for many years, had their own businesses and for the most part supported themselves. Then their homes and businesses were burned and torn down because they were not “true South Africans”. Tommy and Shirley just couldn't turn them away. “We just couldn't turn them back . These are human beings with no place to go”, stated Tommy. The South African government has arranged for them to stay until the end of April, then the financial aid ends and Tommy must send them on their way. Financially Ebenezer just can’t survive supporting this many residents without additional financial support. Over 20 of the refugees have jumped into help pouring concrete and helping in any way they can to help build the Amor homes. The rest lie around waiting for their fate. When they leave they will be given 2,000 Rand (approximately 200 US Dollars) to start anew.

Currently five homes are being built by Amor's participants using two different styles of building materials. The first is Maxi Block. This is a cinder type block that is set with concrete. The second method is Taws Styrofoam block. This process is much like putting together Lego blocks. Rebar is set vertically in a concrete foundation and Styrofoam blocks or sheets are fitted over the rebar. Then concrete is poured inside of the blocks to form a very secure, very insulated wall. The third method which is under review is Panel W. This is a sheet of meshed steel rods that enclose strips of Styrofoam. This is a very lightweight panel that is coated with concrete to form a very sturdy, very insulated wall that can withstand hurricane force winds. Although this third method is not being implemented here in South Africa as of yet, it has been highly successful in the Amor homes built in Yucatan, Mexico.

Amor continues to move forward with the construction of housing for the poor with an eye toward new technologies that will make the homes we build, stronger and cheaper. They must also have the ability to be constructed with un-skilled labor. “My goal is find a building material that not only makes sense culturally but it has to be financially feasible so that volunteers can build it. It needs to be a home that I would be comfortable living in”, said Steve Horrex V.P. of Global Expansion of Amor.


Today was a real first for Amor!! I took three kids and Steve Cosgrove, Amor's Chairman of Strategic Partnership Alliance, from our South Africa work site to Rainbow FM 90.7's studio in Johannesburg today . We did a live over the phone broadcast to WZPL in Indianapolis, Indiana on the "Smiley in the A.M." show. I other words, we broadcast live in Johannesburg and talked to Dave Smiley, the WZPL broadcaster at the same time. People were listening to Steve and the kids share about their experiences in South Africa this week on the air to hundreds of thousands of listeners as they drove to work in Indianapolis while another couple hundred thousand more listened to the same broadcast live in Johannesburg as they finished their lunches. The same broadcast heard on opposite sides of the world at the same time. I don't care who your are.......that's amazing!!!

Countless thanks to Steve Cosgrove for setting this up, WZPL in Indianapolis and Rainbow FM 90.7 in Johannesburg for making this Amor first possible.


April 6, 2009


OK! I have been a bad blogger. And, you're never supposed to comment on your frequency of blogging or apologize for it, but I am. We've been busy here in Africa!!!!

I really thought this trip would be easy for me to spend time blogging. We had plenty of Amor team members to cover the group. I was wrong. There hasn't been a dull moment. The three days I didn't blog have flown by. So, enough explaining, here is what has been going on in South Africa:

Twenty five of the. Urban Saints group arrived on Friday, April 3. The rest of the group, some 150 more, arrived on Saturday around 6am. The entire Urban Saints group then drove by bus to the Lion Park on the east side of Johannesburg. There they went into cages with lion cubs and pet them, cuddled them, and avoided being bit by them as best they could. There are some 90 lions at the Lion Park and in one area you drive into four separate lion camps that consist of a pride of lions. In other words, a huge male lion, a half dozen to a dozen females and that many more cubs. You drive right beside them to were you can literally touch them if you had your window down. This would not be a very smart thing to do though. They are all wild lions!

Sunday, April 4th, the entire group went to church and two of the UK kids came forward to accept Christ. The group was able to go shopping in the afternoon and then had dinner at the Boston Barbecue. Now the name "Boston" really throws you off since on the buffet style menu are selections like "Kudu with Raisins", "Mustard Tongue", and my favorite, "Monkey Gland Steak". The adventurous try these while the majority stick with fish sticks, potato salad, spinach and the likes. The variety of food is out of this world.