Online Advent calendar returns

The Diocese of Washington’s fifth annual online Advent Calendar supports the Bokamoso Youth Program of Winterveld, South Africa. Each day from December 1 through Christmas, visitors can open one of the calendar’s windows to find links to a daily meditation, the daily office and a videotaped interview with one of the scores of young people who have benefited from Bokamoso’s work.

Founded in 1999 to help at-risk youth, the Bokamoso program provides essential training in life skills, scholarships for college-level education and the emotional support for the young people of Winterveld. Through the performing arts, program participants spread their message in their own community and in the United States, spending a month each in residence at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Md.

The youth program is part of the Bokamoso Life Center, a community center, and is run by South Africans, but relies on U.S. support. By U.S. standards, the cost of changing a life in South Africa is astonishingly low. With grants of only $1,500 per year, graduates have received the college education they need to go work in the health professions, retail management and technical fields-careers that would have been unimaginable without Bokamoso’s support and guidance.

The connection between St. Andrew’s and Bokamoso was forged by Roy Barber, a music and drama teacher who has visited South Africa more than 20 times since the mid-1990s, and who writes much of the music that the group performs. This summer, the diocese’s gave Barber a small video camera to record interviews with the youth in his program. These interviews are featured in the calendar.

Please make a donation to support Bokamoso.

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