We just celebrated our 10th annual gala. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and to thank our partners, old and new, who faithfully support our work in Africa.
Nearly 300 people attended the gala, more than half of whom have been to South Africa with us. It felt like a big family reunion. I was particularly blessed that six of my high school classmates attended our gala. We were able to again raise a lot of financial support. Our annual budget has increased every year for the past 21 years. God continues to bless us in so many ways.
There are many wonderful things that our ministry is doing in Africa, but I always enjoy hosting my American friends and getting them involved. It is exciting that people are ready to travel again. Our mission teams for the rest of the year are filling up, and we have several teams booked for 2023.
This last month, we were able to respond to the tragic flooding in the Durban area where more than 400 people lost their lives many of whom were children. The people there are struggling with lack of food and drinking water. In partnership with Convoy of Hope we were able to respond immediately with a large truckload of food and water and will be sending additional trucks each week for the next 4 weeks. In addition to these 4 truckloads of supplies, COH will be sending a 40-foot shipping container of the rice packets from Meals from the Heartland. Our partners in Durban who are assisting us with distribution of this relief are Focus on the Family and a group of 40 Methodist churches all up and down the east coast of South Africa. The financial value of this disaster relief is just over $150,000. We will be collecting photos, videos, and stories to let them properly thank those of you assisting in this effort.
Last month 10 African ladies spent a week at Mountain View farm studying agronomy and assisting us on our vegetable farm. Later this month, Johanney and some of our other staff will assist them in planting a large garden at Mokopane Hospital. We are currently seeking funding in Africa to do additional trainings like this one every 6 weeks. We will be starting many more gardens in schools, other hospitals and homes.
I am looking forward to spending the first week of May in Springfield, MO at the Convoy of Hope summit where all the partners of COH worldwide will be gathering to support each other and make plans for the next year. We at Blessman International are excited that in October, we will be hosting all their African partners on our campus in South Africa.
Our prayer request for this month is again for our son Dustin. He had a cervical fusion a couple of weeks ago and is still quite uncomfortable. His surgeon has asked him to stay near the hospital in Pretoria for the first 2 to 3 weeks post op, so he should be headed back to our farm early this month.