Serving overseas has been a life-long vision for Jeff and Terri. While working on their BTh with a major in Missions, through Masters College and Seminary (then EPBC), they had the privilege of doing their third year at Pan Africa Christian University in Nairobi, Kenya. From then on, their hearts were forever linked to Africa.
Although they both believed they would serve as missionaries in Kenya, God had other plans. After graduating from Masters they both worked in social services for the City of Ottawa. In 2000 Terri accepted the role of Executive Director with First Place OPTIONS. A year later, Jeff accepted the role of Pastor of Administration with Bethel Church. They raised their family, three beautiful girls, Mariah, Jessica, and Samara while serving in their respective ministries.
In 2013, while attending a small group Bible study, "Experiencing God", Jeff felt a strong tug in his heart to revisit serving overseas. Thus began a journey to do so. They pursued an opportunity to serve in South Africa and had the privilege of being involved with two ministries in 2016/2017. They came back to Canada mid 2017 during which time they were gifted the opportunity to care for Jeff's mom, Marlene, in her season of dying.
While they were committed to being with Marlene until God called her home, they also knew their ministry in South Africa had only just begun. While living in South Africa in 2016/2017 they identified some significant challenges faced by youth and young adults. Although they couldn't see too far into the future, they felt directed by God to take proactive steps to develop an outreach in South Africa. Sawubona Project was birthed mid 2017 and is now a Canadian Registered Charity (70731 1528 RR 0001).
In 2018, Jeff and Terri raised funds to send 3 young adult women from Msholozi, South Africa to an intensive training program in order to equip them to become Life Skills Facilitators. Upon successful completion of their program, the three women returned from their training ready invest in the lives of youth in Msholozi. With the commitment, investment and support of others, Sawbuona Project launched its first Life Skills Program in July 2018.
Due to Covid, Jeff, Terri and Samara were unable to return to South Africa until January 1, 2021. Jeff and Terri have volunteer visas and are serving as the Directors of Sawubona Project. Samara has a student visa and is in highschool. They added a rescue dog, Ollie, to their family in May 2021.
Midway through July 2021, Marlene Caicco, a fellow Canadian, friend and long-time colleague of Terri's, moved to South Africa to volunteer as Program Director for Sawubona Project. Under Marlene's leadership, in 2022 the team launched, two "Becoming Me" Life Skills Programs in Msholozi, "Learning2Lead" Life Skills Program at the only public school in Msholozi, a "Becoming Me" Life Skills Program in Phumlani (by request), as well as a Games Day in Msholozi. A meal was also provided for each participant at each individual program. In November 2021, in partnership with Kids in Need Africa, 25 uniforms were purchased and distributed to vulnerable chidlren who attended the Life Skills Programs in Msholozi and Phumlani.