You might remember this family: Johnny, Joey, Holly and Hannah Gilchrist from Illinois, USA spent their last Summer doing odd jobs to raise funds for the community and children of Baraka in Zambia.
Though the Gilchrist brood have never visited Zambia, working to support this community that they had heard about via Hands at Work founder, George Snyman, they feel as though they are "a part of the family".
Baraka is located 10 miles northwest of Kabwe in Central Zambia. Kabwe, and the surrounding area, is high in lead content, placing it fourth on the list of the Most Polluted Cities in the World and causing many birth defects in the children in the area. The rampant HIV/AIDS pandemic further plagues the community's health. In a community with more than 900 households, there are an estimated 500 orphans, many vulnerable children and child-headed households.
In the middle of this poor, rural community, a team of 26 volunteer care workers are bringing hope to orphaned children by visiting them in their homes and ensuring that they receive nutritious meals, a basic education and that their health and safety is seen to.
With a generous heart and a desire to support and multiply the care workers' work, Joey (11) is dedicating another Summer to pet-sitting. All the money he raises will go towards caring for the community's children. He even made his own business cards!
Below, read a note from Joey's mom, Bridgette, to the Hands at Work office in Zambia, and a letter from Joey to the children in Baraka.
The kids are so excited ... I had to explain to them that a lemonade stand wouldn't quite raise enough money at 25 cents a cup. We needed to think bigger! They said, "Let's call the train station and find out if we can sell hot chocolate and water when passengers get off the train!" Wow, little minds can come up with great ideas! ... The pictures and correspondence you send make all the difference in the world to us. We feel like they are a part of our family. ... Tell everyone there we love them and we are praying for God to create an oasis of subsistence for them!
Dear Ms. Trina,
My name is Joey and I am 11 years old. I am Bridgette's son. Can you give the Baraka kids a message for me?
“I will work very hard to make your village a better place. I am going to come up with a lot of ideas this summer to raise for money for you guys. I enjoy seeing pictures of what you look like. I hope some day I can come to Baraka to visit. I know your village is in need right now but I promise that all of us will do our best to help you. I am very excited to be a part of your lives. My mom said we can send lots of packages to you guys so hopefully we can do that soon and maybe even you guys can send us pictures back. I promise to pray for you and maybe boys my age can write me something and I could be friends with them.”
My sister and I are having a birthday party in May and we are asking for the classes to bring money gifts for the garden in Baraka instead of birthday presents. I can't wait to see how much we make! It should be a lot! I have the list of what you need for the garden and I hung it in our kitchen. We have already scratched off cabbage and an ax!! Every time we put money in the jar at home we can cross off something on the list. I made business cards too that I am going to pass out at school! Here is a picture of my card. I am going to pet sit all summer to raise money. Pray for me so I can get you a garden!
Hands at Work supports community-owned initiatives in 29 areas in Zambia, ten of which are served by the Hands at Work office in Kabwe whose staff provide regular visits to each community—mobilizing the local Church to care for the sick, dying, and orphaned children in their communities, provide training, help local volunteers with proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping, reporting to donors, and provide encouragement and spiritual support.
Hands at Work currently operates in eight countries in Africa, including DRC, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.