Amy Bell Centre for Children
The Amy Bell Centre for Children has grown from a small school room in a tool shed to a wonderful ministry for underprivileged children in the small rural community of Cradock South Africa. In May, 2013 Amy Bell and her father Larry made a trip to the Eastern Cape of South Africa to hunt and sight-see with Tam Safaris. The Tam family has several ranch and farming properties in the area of Cradock South Africa (population 35,000). Cradock is located about 2 hours north of Port Elizabeth, a major port city on the southern tip of Africa. This community, on the banks of the Great Fish River, is a lively and progressive community that is strongly influenced by the substantial farming and ranching activity in the area. This community has a strong sense of “taking care of their own”. Several projects throughout the community are staffed and funded by its caring citizens to provide the children of the community with a “hand up”. The Tam family is at the forefront of “helping others” in this community. Amy and Larry felt right at home with this wonderful Tam family during their visit. They also enjoyed seeing the wonderful ranches in the area as well as the rugged mountains, the rolling plains and the plentiful wildlife.
During the Bell’s visit to Tam Safaris Amy became aware of a project in Cradock that the Tam family had been involved with for several years. The project she took particular interest in was a small orphanage associated with the Cradock Hospice Good Samaritan Home. Amy learned of the work of the orphanage and it’s needs. She was especially moved by the stories of the children whose parents were victims of the Aids virus. Amy has always had a special place in her heart for children. Especially children less fortunate. She decided that she wanted to leave a substantial “love gift” with the Tam family for the orphanage and asked Larry to “match” her gift. She had no idea the impact that her gift would have in the months to come.
The Tam family took Amy’s gift and transformed it into a beautiful new building that would provide much needed classroom space, a small but very functional kitchen as well as indoor restrooms for the children. Amy and Larry’s gift, combined with other generous benefactors in Cradock, also made it possible to transform an old vacant lot into a wonderful and secure playground for the children.
At Amy’s passing in May, 2014 the world and particularly all of Amy’s friends learned about Amy’s anonymous “gift” and they how it had been used by the Tam family to “transform” the lives of dozens of hurting children. Her friends and family, in learning about Amy’s gift, made substantial additional gifts to the Amy Bell Children’s Centre. Those gifts led to the purchase of a new bus for the Centre so they could safely transport the children to the school each day for learning and nutrition, fellowship and support. “Amy’s Bus” replaced a broken down old pickup that was the only transportation they had prior to the purchase of the bus.
In addition to the new building, the playground and the bus, the Amy Bell Centre has grown to support 3 local schools and its children. One school is for children with physical disabilities. A second school is for children with learning disabilities. The third school, for children ages 5 to 8, was established many years ago by local parents and benefactors to provide a “help up” to younger gifted and talented children. This school is a multicultural school that puts a special emphasis on teaching the children to speak multiple languages including Afrikaans and English in addition to their native languages. The Amy Bell Centre has also established a scholarship program that will enable a special child the opportunity to attend university in the area. A qualified student for this scholarship will exhibit special traits that include a commitment to excellence in learning, a desire to “help others less fortunate” and clear sense of the importance of being a good example for younger children and siblings to follow.
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