EDGERTON — The Darin and Jonna Fey family made their third visit "home" to Edgerton last week since moving to South Africa eight years ago.
Darin and Jonna, along with their children, Tyson, 15, and Jorin, 13, initially made the move to pursue work with Take Action Ministry, a faith-based organization that fulfills community needs. TAM operates about 20 daycare centers and after school programs in Hammanskraal, South Africa, a community that battles 50% unemployment and where most employed people commute to Johannesburg or Pretoria for work.
"The goal is to come alongside people and help them wherever they are," said Darin.
TAM also donates food to needy families. Darin manages the food distribution center, which serves fortified breakfast porridge to 1,100 kids every day. Jonna worked with the daycare centers for a few years but recently took a step back in order to home school Tyson and Jorin.
In addition to his work with TAM, Darin works for Business Connect, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company that distributes water filters to 60 countries worldwide. His role with Business Connect is to train local entrepreneurs how to use and sell the filters.
Tyson describes his life in South Africa as simply, "fun."
"He's the most integrated into the community of all of us," Jonna said of her son. He walks around the neighborhood meeting people, and he loves to eat chicken feet from roadside vendors.
For Jorin, a favorite thing is visits from Amo, a little girl who has cerebral palsy. Amo lived with the Feys for awhile as an infant, and both families remain close.
Helping their neighbors is another way the Feys give of themselves. They built a house for Amo's family and are working to help them become self-sufficient.
They also help raise money for job training for members of the community. For example, the Feys have befriended a young woman who is interested in becoming a paramedic and are helping her raise $3,000 to pay for the necessary four-month training course.
Darin's home church, First Christian Reformed Church of Edgerton, raises money through its Vacation Bible School program to contribute to the Feys' humanitarian efforts.
If other people and/or organizations would like to get involved, the Feys recommend donating to Connect for Water, a non-profit organization that finances water filter projects. Donors have the option of selecting which country their money will help.
The Feys are not looking for praise or accolades. They feel like their various efforts to help are what anyone would do.
"We live there (in Hammanskraal) and try to help where we can," Darin said.
"Just like you do in your community with your neighbors and friends," added Jonna.