After more than ten years serving at The Power Company Kids Club since its founding, Dan and Rachel Smither felt that God was calling them to begin a unique ministry to children in the worst AIDS affected area in the entire world: Durban, South Africa. Based on the power of long term mentoring relationships and the language of music to communicate the truths of the Gospel, the dream to reach thousands of children affected by AIDS was born.
Key of Hope was formed in January 2007, and fundraising began in earnest. Dan and Rachel sold their house, cars, and furniture, and made a trip to Durban to begin making arrangements for housing, school for their girls, and other essentials. One year later, in January 2008, they stepped off a plane onto the runway at Durban International Airport with 16 suitcases and clear vision of what God had assigned them to accomplish.
Relocating to a developing African nation known as the crime capital of the world was not an easy transition to make.
Safety was a major concern in a country ranked in the top three in the world for murder, kidnapping, robbery, assault, and rape. Overcoming racism was also a hurdle, in a country with a long history of white oppression, racial violence, and political corruption.
Slowly, with each relationship built, inroads were made into these areas. The work literally began with one child in one squatter camp, and has grown steadily from there. Key of Hope now operates with a staff of 25, ministering in over a dozen different slums with almost 2,000 children being visited at home each week.