Kedesh is a boys home for 30 boys between the ages of 9 and 18, located near Beira on the east coast of Mozambique. The boys are orphans or they come from unsafe homes due to abuse, neglect or extreme poverty. Kedesh gets it’s name from the "cities of refuge" in the Bible (Numbers 35:6) that were built for people to have refuge from people pursuing them after they accidentally killed someone. So for our boys it symbolizes a place of refuge from things that would otherwise have pursued them such as abuse, poverty and life on the streets.
A bit of background
Kedesh was started by John Wickes from Utah, USA. He came to Beira over 20 years ago and started working with street boys at a centre for street boys, teaching them practical skills linked to his own background in building and construction. As a result of the centre closing down to working with street boys, John took the 15 boys who he was working with and formed a home, still focusing on teaching them occupational skills.
What does Kedesh look like now?
Kedesh now has 30 boys living at the home. Rather than street boys, most of the boys have come to live at Kedesh as a result of being orphaned or because they were found in situations that were unsafe for them, such as abuse and neglect. Kedesh is situated 20 minutes out from Beira City, in a rural area called Chamba. Kedesh itself has been built bit by bit by John and the boys, including building a water tower and installing pipes for running water (something that’s still rare in this area). In addition to our own boys, we also have a lot of local boys who enjoy spending time at Kedesh during the day. Kedesh tithes it’s donations to help widows from the local area, a few of whom are linked to our boys. This involves giving out of food and basic items every week, paying for medical expenses and housing as well as other needed items.
Who lives at Kedesh?
John Wickes is still faithfully heading up Kedesh. Other people have come to volunteer and help out for varying lengths of time over the years. Heather Pritchard came to volunteer in July 2008 and has been at Kedesh since and has no plans to leave. We also have 2 full time paid Mozambican employees, both of whom are former street boys that John worked with when he first arrived in Beira. We also employ one of our widows to help out in the mornings cooking lunch with the boys.
The vision of Kedesh
Our vision is living life with Biblical principles. There are many ways to do this but for us here it involves helping to care for vulnerable boys and widows. Providing a home for boys who need one, teaching them life and occupational skills and demonstrating to them God’s ways and heart.
Kedesh areas of need
1. Permanent buildings
We have one, unfinished concrete building where the boys sleep and where we have a communal area. Our other buildings, including dining room, kitchen, John’s room and Heather’s house are all made out of non-permanent local materials consisting of bamboo and mud with corrugated iron roofing that are weathered and falling down in places.
2. Widows housing
Part of Kedesh’s vision is to provide houses on site for some of our widows to live. Our plans are to build one house on Kedesh’s main site and several other houses down on our farmland.
3. Occupational skills training of boys
It has always been part of John’s vision and intention to be teaching and training the boys at Kedesh in practical skills – such as carpentry, welding and plumbing… Previously this has been done largely through the building of Kedesh but in recent years this has slowed down a lot due to lack of funds. There are also other areas too that would benefit the boys to have training in, including computers and tailor (being a man’s job here!).
4. Farm land
Kedesh’s land expanded from 1 hectare to 4 hectares about 2 years, ago, which was a huge blessing. We have been farming on the extra 3 hectares bit by bit, learning as we go since then and one of our workers is responsible for heading it up. Our boys also work on the land, learning to grow different things that we then can all eat.
We have several bright, enthusiastic, hard working 18 years olds. In Mozambique unemployment is high and good jobs lacking. One way we are helping the boys is the training in practical skills. Another way is for the boys that want to, is for them to be given the opportunity to study a particular profession at University here in Beira. This would greatly increase their employment prospects in the future.
Summary of needs/plans