Santa Clara University

Room number: 53

Volunteering with Amor Ministries in South Africa

Kyle Ozawa '08 and Bill Pluto '08

Kyle Ozawa ’08 and Bill Pluto ’08 traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in a week-long house build with Amor Ministries.  After meeting up with the group of 30 other volunteers, they spent the first day touring Johannesburg and learning more about the country’s former Apartheid system of racial segregation which increased their appreciation of the country and all the struggles they have endured with over the last few decades.

For six days, their group successfully built a new house for Maria and her three children.  She was such an endearing lady, and the volunteers were all so thankful to be given the opportunity to provide her and her family with a new future.

While Kyle and Bill have built many houses in Mexico with Amor, there was something very unique and powerful about this particular experience.  From day one, they was joined by many members of the local community, churches and schools.  The diversity of the groups was fascinating.  They ranged from affluent white Dutch Reform church groups to local neighborhood kids.  Yet, despite their apparent differences, everyone got dirty, picked up a hammer, and helped get the house built in just under a week’s time. 

At times, the situation was a little chaotic with so many people, but it was an amazing sight to behold.  Kyle and Bill learned that for many of the white community members, especially the children, this was the first time they had been in an impoverished “township.”  For the local black community, seeing members from the affluent white community work to build a house for one of their neighbors sent a powerful message that reconciliation can truly happen.  What Bill and Kyle realized in the end was that their work had a much greater effect than the structure constructed.  Kyle notes “After so many similar trips, what I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much you give of yourself, you always get back much more in return.”