The great coach Lou Holtz once said, “Nothing on this earth is standing still. It’s either growing or it’s dying. No matter if it’s a tree or a human being.”

When you plant a tree, you are adding beauty, oxygen and habitat to the world; you are planting hope for the future. Character is much the same; invest in character and you can change your whole destiny.

Made possible by a generous donation from Willow Feather Farm, a South African nursery, the Kerus family recently planted 130 shade trees in the township of Soshanguve. We planted at the Kerus Orphan Care Center, our Safe Houses, the primary school and many of the shacks where our grannies and orphans live. The land that was designated for townships is mostly rocky with few trees in the areas. In an arid, sun-parched climate, shelter is important and is often sadly lacking in these poorer communities.

For several days, the Soshanguve Block Y community came together – determined adults, strong and eager teens, excited young children and even hobbling grannies – working side by side from morning till night, digging holes, pounding in stakes, hauling water and giving the small seedlings a chance to bloom and grow. Each family adopted a tree in the community park and promised to make sure it had what was needed to grow. We hope it is a constant reminder to our families of the new life, new growth, and new hope God’s love is bringing to Soshanguve!

Planting trees is a good work in and of itself for the environment, but the Soshanguve leadership team used the opportunity as a purpose-filled endeavor to build relationships in the community and to initiate life enhancing conversations with our teens. They used the opportunity to find ways to discuss what matters in life, why doing things the right way is not only important for good tree growth, but for our personal character as well. And just like a tree, character is either growing or dying.

“Time spent amongst the trees is never wasted time.” Katrina Meyer