African Blessings Blog

A Personal Journey

A Personal Journey

Guest blog post from our Community Critter Care Team Leader

I have always loved animals so much that my heart would break when I saw an animal in pain or abandoned, so many a kitten and a puppy was brought home, found somewhere on the streets or homeless,  by my father or myself.  My mother was gracious enough to go along with all the animals arriving! I was privileged to grow up in a family of animal lovers and was always surrounded by animals.


Mary-Anns daughter with Big Boy
Mary-Ann’s daughter, pictured with a rescue dog – Big Boy


As I matured into a young adult and grew in my walk with God, I started realising that I needed to do more for God and so I began a journey of trying to find out what He wanted from me.   The Bible is filled with scriptures teaching us to look after the poor and broken-hearted.  Many scriptures refer to feeding and clothing the poor and telling people about Jesus.  I started realising that I loved animals more than people and gave up my dreams of working with animals and horses, my passion, as I realised that they had become an idol in my life.  I moved to the UK and was led to many places and ministries where people needed to be helped, cared for and loved.  My love for God’s people grew and after getting married and travelling, my husband and I settled back in South Africa and had our own business.  On my “future husband wish list” had been a very big – MUST LOVE ANIMALS!  So, thankfully I have a husband who loves animals “almost” as much as I do.

We settled with three new kittens.  Our children arrived a few years later and so life continued.  But the need within me to be with animals much of the time was always there.  Why had God given me this love for animals?


Mary-Ann's son with family horse
Mary-Ann’s son, pictured with the family horse: Ticcino


I worked in many communities over the years of being back in South Africa, helping those in need.  We always passed the township animals, who on the whole were in good spirits and happy, with some being very thin and malnourished from lack of proper food and no de-worming etc.  But what could I do.  I needed to look after the people……

Or so I thought….

My mother and father moved to African Blessings in 2007 and so the family journey of African Blessings began! I had heard my mom talking about the ministries African Blessings was involved in and also of Community Critter Care.  I didn’t quite see the point of Community Critter Care with all the needs of the poor.  I mentioned this to my mother one day and she said to me that Community Critter Care had been an amazing opportunity to open the door to people’s hearts and homes.  A great way to share the love of Jesus.  My mother also told me of how she had seen some of the community starting to care for each other as they were taught to care for their animals.  The penny dropped and I knew that I could do both.  Looking after and caring for God’s creation, not just people. The animals couldn’t be more important, which is where I had gone wrong in my thinking and God took me on a journey to change that way of thinking.

My husband and I were called to African Blessings in February 2016 and already in the first two weeks two animals touched my heart.  The first of many and the beginning of a journey of understanding what animals mean to God and my role in caring for them.

Big Boy

My first “love” at African Blessings was a very old hunting dog rescued by my mother. She had affectionately named him Big Boy.  She had seen him for years in the township and finally he had been injured so badly that she was able to bring him for rehabilitation and finally bought him from his owner for R 300.  He was a sorry sight!

A sad and sorry boy the first month he was here.  He was unfortunately only with us for just over a year before he passed away suddenly one night, but he will be in our hearts forever and was the first resident of the African Blessings “Doggie Retirement Centre”.

He spent his last year very happy and knew he was loved.


Big Boy the rescue dog


Our family of four with two cats soon turned into a family of four with three dogs, four cats and a horse!  Three of our cats and two of our dogs were rescued through African Blessings:


Lilly was found at the African Blessings gate about two weeks after we arrived, in a black plastic bag with her legs tied with wire.  She was around six months old.

She was a little light in the life of Big Boy as they would spend many hours playing during the day and I believe she had much to do with his healing.  She now lives in her forever home with us.



Diggle was rescued by the local dentist and needed a home.  Our cat Sumo played surrogate daddy to him.

A year on and although bigger than his “daddy”, they still love being together!


Diggle the ginger cat with this tuxedo friend


Little Brak

A terrible name for him (I know) but he was supposed to stay with us for a maximum of a month as we looked for someone to adopt him so was not officially named and by the time we realised he was going to live with us permanently, Little Brak had stuck!  He just arrived on the farm one day, terrified and alone.  We do not know his story, but he chose us as his family and now gets to sleep in our bed at night and rules the roost!



Also not a great name, but she came with it and we just couldn’t call her anything else, although she is affectionately known as “fat cat” lot of the time.  She was being bullied by her previous owner’s dogs so she needed a peaceful forever home, which she has now found with us.


Oomphie the long-haired cat, another rescue


And then life would not be complete without our “fruitloop” horse, Ticcino!  Not a rescue, but loved and had to be part of the story! 

So, all in all, our home is full and our bed has become considerably less spacious, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Our children have also learnt so much from the animals that have come through African Blessings, whether it be their forever home, rehabilitation or their final resting place.

Even if some of the rescue/rehabilitation animals only spend a few weeks or days at African Blessings and are unable to be helped or be pain free, at least they know what it is to be loved.

Some might scoff and say what does an animal know of love, but they do.  They are capable of giving so much love and loyalty, even when humans are unkind to them, sometimes out of ignorance, that they deserve the love and the pampering we are able to give them before they leave the earth.


Food for thought:

God has dominion over us as humans, and gave us dominion over all living animals. In His meaning of dominion would he abuse us and not care for us in any way?


Blog written by:

Mary-Ann Oosthuizen

Community Critter Care Team Leader


If you would like to contribute to this cause and help Mary-Ann’s team rescue more animals such as those mentioned above – please consider donating:

Banking Details:

Beneficiary Name: African Blessings

Bank: FNB

Type: Cheque Account

Account No.: 620 654 37355

Branch Code: 250 655

Reference: CCC(YOUR NAME)