A Visit to Hofmeyr Hugs of Hope
Hofmeyr is a small Karoo town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, 20 km west of the Bamboesberg mountain range. It lies 64 km north-east of Cradock at an altitude of 1’252 metres. Read more on Wikipedia.
Teresa Opperman, the project leader and mover-and-shaker of note, received Unathi and I with such enthusiasm that it made us feel a little bit like celebrities. Hofmeyr, with a population of about 5400 people, is like all small towns in the Eastern Cape – many of them are farming communities and with this comes a myriad of challenges and feelings of being pushed aside and forgotten. But in our experience, if you have a Teresa around, you feel that there is a sense of HOPE and a deep sense of CARE.
Hofmeyr Hugs of Hope is a haven of hope for many of the locals who have been forgotten. We met Teresa at an Asset Based Community Development workshop in Tarkastad in 2017. I remember vividly this tall, regal woman who expressed her concern that she thought she was attending a workshop on fundraising and not what we had to offer. However, fast forward, Teresa soon realised the value of the workshop and the different tools and methods that were shared and immediately embraced the different concepts.
No MORE HANDOUTS but finding ways of making the people they were working with feel like they were contributing to their own development – NOTHING FOR NOTHING!!
We were whipped around the little town in sweltering heat, but were as enthusiastic as Teresa to see what Hugs was doing to revive a spirit of HOPE and CARE in the little town. All little towns need a Teresa – it is often the only way that situations they find themselves in i.e. very high unemployment, the whole range of social ills linked to poverty and unemployment and the stories we hear time and time again will change. It takes courage, connections, faith and love to keep going despite the odds.
We were shown several vacant and neglected buildings that belong to government departments and institutions that could be put to good use. But the red tape and lack of vision for these small towns hampers development and people begin feeling discouraged and withdraw.
These little towns have a lot of potential if only all the different parties came together to listen to the vision and plans that local communities have and then allow them to turn them into a reality. We all need to assist in uniting our collective gifts, skills, talents and connections to make places like Hofmeyr and other small towns places that people would want to visit and support.
Well done Teresa, and thank you for showing us what is possible when you are determined to bring CHANGE!! Thank you for the hospitality and to all the volunteers who assist you in making a difference in tiny Hofmeyr.
The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. – Dalai Lama