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The Story of the Sparrows

A South African Story…

There’s a beautiful story about human worth that comes out of the ugliness of war.

During the second Anglo Boer War (South African War) of 1899 – 1902 the British were struggling to defeat the Boers. The British adopted the scorched earth policy, burning down farms and forcibly removed woman and children to concentration camps. The conditions in the camps where dismal and a total of over 48 000 woman and children (22 000 children) died in the camps. A total of 20 000 black people died in the concentration camps.

In the concentration camp at Bethulie, also known as the Camp of Hell, a total of 1 734 woman and children died within the space of 13 months. The theme for the Bethulie concentration camp in the south of the Orange Free State was Matthew 10 :29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of you head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”

Anette Marais sat on a stump amongst tired and destitute woman and opened her bible to read to the woman. The previous night she begged God to send her scripture to inspire the woman. She opened the Bible and read Matt 10:29-31 to the woman. As she was reading a small sparrow flew over them and landed on Annette’s shoulder. Over the next months the sparrows became the beacon of hope for the woman and children at the Camp of Hell.

The story was told to a woman of influence, who relayed it to the Prime Minister, Jan Smuts. In 1923 the sparrow was embedded on the quarter penny, the smallest coin of the Union of South Africa. The sparrow was transferred to the 1 cent piece when South Africa became a Republic in 1961.

Money is worth less and less it seems and in the last few years the lowly 1c coin has ceased to be minted. The symbol of the lowly sparrows of Mathew 10 is no more.

The Sparrow symbolizes what Sparrow Hospitality Training stand for, to bring hope to our continent, to bless people with dreams to work in the hospitality industry by sharing our skills, knowledge and experience.