“Cape Town Saints Serve Orphans,” Ensign, Feb. 1993, 74
In Cape Town, South Africa, members and missionaries combine efforts twice a month to see that refugee orphans who have flocked to the city get a well-balanced meal and some recreation.
The youth, who come from many cultures, are organized into basketball teams and spend two days every month playing the sport in the LDS meetinghouse cultural hall. To many of the young people, it’s their first exposure to the games—and to the Church.
The project was organized by Scott and Melissa Lewis, a violist and violinist in the Utah Symphony who spent one and a half years while on sabbatical playing in the Cape Town Symphony.
During that time they became aware of a community program, sponsored by another local Christian church, that provided an opportunity each year for fifty youth to live in a boardinghouse and be integrated into the regular school system.
Brother and Sister Lewis were impressed with the program, and when they realized the financial demands to keep the program running, they offered to organize three fund-raising concerts. They approached fellow musicians in the Cape Town Symphony, who willingly volunteered their time and musical talents. The concerts, which were held in the South Africa Cape Town Mission home, turned out to be a great opportunity for both the musicians and the children to learn more about the Church and its commitment to service.
“Many of the musicians involved in the concert told us it was one of the best experiences of their lives,” said Sister Lewis. “It was also wonderful that the churches could work together for such a good cause.”
Once the Lewises became involved in the program for helping the orphans, they couldn’t quit. They approached fellow members of the Cape Town First Ward, who eagerly got involved. With permission from local Church leaders, the basketball program was organized. It continues to be a service to refugee orphans. Relief Society sisters arrange a meal for the youth, tired and hungry after spending an afternoon playing ball.
“This was fun for these kids because many of them had never even seen a basketball before. The friendships that we made with them will last forever,” Brother Lewis said.