Emoyeni History

There was a fresh wind blowing us all towards Badplaas in 2002. My parents, missionaries to the region, were being led to care for orphans. As for me and Tami, my work in Florida with foster care had us uniquely focused on orphans and at-risk children, and South Africa’s AIDS pandemic had the whole world talking about the coming orphan crisis. When I thought of South Africa, I always thought of Badplaas. Then there was Pastor Selby. Now an indispensable member of our team, Selby and Goodness Hlengwa had responded to God’s missionary call to leave Zululand and serve the Seswati people. They were pioneering a small church in a wooden shack that was to become our first project and our home base.

Nick and Molly Pastermack and Elizabeth Marques provided the momentum, dedication and courage we needed to get the mission started.

Since then there have been many others, too, for whose participation and commitment we are forever grateful.

Emoyeni – ‘in the Spirit / in the wind’ – was the name of my parents’ farm, where they raised the original 6 Emoyeni children (the ones dancing under the tree on our logo). The oldest of those children is now happily married and raising her children in Switzerland! No one can tell just where the wind will blow.

Our original plan was to establish a rural foster-care village. We were even apportioned land by the local chief, Prince Dlamini. However, delayed by land-claim issues and limited resources, we shifted our energy to strengthening and fostering the local ‘grass roots’ initiatives. As a result, the first decade of Emoyeni’s labors has yielded a solid crop of motivated and empowered local responders, whose work in turn is having significant impact in their own community.

Perhaps the most significant addition to the Emoyeni team was the Mather-Pike family in 2006. Darryl and Janine took us from short-term projects to long-term roots. Now we have a small army of people working with us, and things that were once far-off dreams are becoming realities. Click here for a timeline of the most important events of our first years.

– Erik Eskelund, co-founder

About Emoyeni


Emoyeni is a Christ-centered 501(c)(3) public charity. We support and provide caring solutions for South Africa's vulnerable children.

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Get Involved


Looking to part of a winning team? Whether you're setting foot on African soil, or doing the ground work right from home, there are many ways to get involved. Explore our volunteer possibilities. Emoyeni may be the perfect team for you! Learn more in our How to Help section.

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