Roger experienced his first Holy Home Visits in Zimba, Zambia in July 2014. As part of a short-term team with Sunset Church from San Francisco, he walked side-by-side with Care Workers visiting the poorest children in their village. Roger learned that the Care Workers visit the children to bring love and hope where there is much suffering and struggle. He learned that they visit the children because God first visited us.
In March of 2013, we traveled to Zambia and South Africa on a 10-day adventure that changed our lives. We had the privilege of spending time with the volunteer staff and care workers of Hands at Work on visits to four villages – Maranatha and Zimba in Zambia and Welverdiend and Senzokuhle in South Africa – and found ourselves so blessed and humbled by the experience.
As a part of our Radical Advent Christmas campaign, we want to share a story of a teacher from Zambia today. Esther used to teach at a public school, but when she realized that many of the orphans in her village weren’t able to afford the fees to attend the public school, she decided to make a radical change. First, she used her modest income to build a small two-bedroom house. As a single woman with two children and two grandchildren, her neighbors complained the new house was beyond her means. But this was part of Esther’s plan. She now shares one bedroom with her two grandchildren, who live with her. In the spare bedroom, she raises dozens of chickens, and the income from selling chickens enabled Esther to take the risky step of leaving the security of her government job. Now Esther’s living room doubles as her classroom, because every weekday she teaches 106 of the poorest children in her community out of her living room!
Hands at Work empowers people like Esther in the poorest villages in Africa who are radically serving the poor and helps build a team of local Christians around them to multiply their efforts. Make this a Radical Advent by supporting Hands at Work in improving access to education for poor children in Africa! Please consider making a donation to our Christmas campaign here.
As a part of our Radical Advent Christmas campaign, we want to share Meredith's story. She is an 8-year-old girl living in the community of Susu. Meredith attends the Susu Community School and is currently in first grade. Meredith lives with her two siblings, mother and grandmother - many people for their small house. Meredith’s father died when she was only four months old and sadly, her mother struggled to cope with caring for her 3 children. The family moved in with Meredith's grandmother so that there was another adult in the house to help with daily chores and taking care of the children. Unfortunately, Meredith's grandmother is aging and it’s a struggle to look after the whole family. They found it difficult to find good food and they often went to sleep on empty stomachs.
The Care Workers in Susu found this family and wanted to help them. They started by registering Meredith and her siblings at the feeding point where the children can eat a nutritious meal each day. Meredith says the biggest difference it has made to her is that she now gets food every day without needing to worry. She feels like she now has energy to work well at school, and she was very pleased to pass her recent school exams.
Meredith's Care Worker, Patricia, frequently visits this needy family, taking soap for them, helping to wash their clothes and sometimes bringing gifts of corn meal. Patricia encourages the children to attend school each day, too. Meredith loves it when Patricia visits her - particularly when she brings sweet potatoes as a gift for the family! Hands' partners in the U.S. have provided critical prayer, short-term teams, and financial support enabling local Christian volunteers to care for children like Meredith and her brother and sister in Susu. Many other communities have no support. If you are able, please consider making a donation to our Christmas campaign here.
As a part of our Radical Advent christmas campaign, we want to highlight Susu, a rural community in Zambia. Hands at Work identified Susu as a village with particularly high rates of HIV/AIDS and low access to support; government clinics, hospitals and schools are too far away for the local people to access. Though the situation in Susu is desperate, the local Care Worker team, with the support of partners outside the community, is making a great impact. Many of the children visited by Susu Home-based Care attend the Community School, which was started by a local church in 2004. The school has six volunteer teachers, dedicating their time to giving 250 children in Susu a basic education.
The school used to meet outside under trees, but in faith the community made bricks for a school. In 2011, in partnership with Hands at Work, they were able to complete a large building with two classrooms and an office for the teachers. This has made a huge difference to the community; having shelter means the school can continue during rainy season, and now the children have desks to work at!
Surrounding streams supply Susu with water but during the hot months the streams dry up. In the past, the community had no option but to walk long distances to fetch water. However, in 2010 a Hands at Work support partner blessed the community of Susu with the drilling of a borehole well on the school property, a tank to hold water, and a pump run by a solar panel. In a community where there is no electricity and no access to a clean drinking water source, this is a huge blessing. The community is overjoyed—now the children have a safe and dependable drinking water source and it will help to decrease illness in Susu. Make this a Radical Advent by supporting Hands at Work in serving destitute communities like Susu! Please consider making a donation to our Christmas campaign here.
Seven-year-old Sandy lost both of her parents to serious illnesses back in 2006. Sandy now lives with her aunt in Balaka, and her other siblings are all scattered in different homes with relatives. Though she has a guardian, Sandy faces many difficulties. Her household relies on her aunt getting casual work to buy food, but her aunt struggles with alcohol abuse and the family often goes without eating. There are currently nine people living in her small home. Sandy’s clothing consists of only two dresses and she attends school bare-footed.
Though Sandy continues to have a difficult home situation, Balaka Community Based Organization (CBO) strives to provide her with the love of a family. The Care Workers have adopted Sandy as one of their own, and she is now attending the Care Point every day where she receives one nutritious meal a day. Those who know her say she also now wears a smile! For a girl who has faced many challenges at a young age, this love and care provides the hope she needs to have faith in her future. Hands at Work supports CBOs like this one to reach the most vulnerable children like Sandy. Make this a Radical Advent by supporting Hands at Work in serving orphaned children in Africa! Please consider making a donation to our Christmas campaign here.
A little tomato plant produces so much more than just juicy red fruit. In the bush community of Baraka in central Zambia, it has provided hope. The Community Based Organization (CBO) in Baraka had little in terms of finances to start a garden, but the Care Workers had a desire and a vision to see the children they were feeding enjoy balanced meals with valuable nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
With the partnership of Hands at Work and the funds raised by the Gilchrist family from the U.S., the community of Baraka was able to plant two gardens in July of this year. The Gilchrist family, including their four children, was so moved by the story of the orphans in Baraka, that they spent a whole summer doing odd jobs and pet sitting to raise money to support this community (you can read more about their story here). Presently, the gardens are filled with tomato and colza plants. The Care Workers all take ownership of the gardens and come together multiple mornings a week to weed, water, and cultivate.
Not only is Baraka CBO able to sell some of the vegetables to the local community and invest this money back into their garden to purchase seeds and fertilizer, but they are also able to feed the harvest to the children. The daily meal that they serve to 50 of the most vulnerable children in the community now looks a little more colorful and is filled with more nutrients with the vegetables they are now able to serve. The CBO is planning to expand the garden and to plant more vegetables in the future. After the rainy season, they hope to plant cabbage and spinach.
By Jed Heubner
Jed (L) and his family with the care workers in Chisamba, Zambia
Fall is officially here. We say goodbye to the long days of summer with kids staying out playing with their friends until late in the evening, and we say hello to children getting up early and heading off to school. For many children school might seem like a burden, homework, bag lunches, and schedules, but to children in Africa, school means possibilities. As you walk past nearly any school in Africa you will most likely see a sign that reads, “Education is the key to success,” in some form or another. For many children in Africa, however, school is just out of reach.
Most schools in Africa charge school fees. Now these school fees for primary school are usually fairly low, around $25 a year, but for high school these fees can get up to $100 a year. Now that may not seem like much, but for a family earning less than a dollar a day and having multiple children, this amount is extremely difficult to raise.
In August my family had the opportunity to visit the community we are supporting in Chisamba, Zambia. They have started a preschool and have a feeding point where over 50 children are getting a meal once a day. While in Chisamba we also got to go on several home visits, meet the children we are supporting, and see where they are living. On one home visit we met David. David is a 16-year-old boy who lives at home with his mother and his two younger siblings. David's father left their family several years ago because it was too difficult to support the family. They do not know where their father went. David is a very intelligent young man, who was doing well in school, but his family couldn’t come up with the money for school fees. The headmaster at his school told him he was not allowed to come back until he paid all of his back fees and paid for the current school year, about $200 altogether. As David's mother was telling us the story, I watched David closely. I could see the embarrassment as his mother told us how he was pulled out of class and chased from the school, but I could also see the hope as he looked at these strangers who had come to visit him.
After leaving we sat with the coordinator of Isubilo Home-based Care, Peter. Peter is a local pastor who was challenged by what he saw going on in the community and decided he could make a difference in these children’s lives. He doesn’t have much, but he and his wife Cecilia have done so much for the children of Chisamba. However, helping David was beyond what they could afford as well. Peter knows David well, and told us how much he loved school. With Peter’s help, we made a plan to fund the fees so David can go back to school.
In the local language "Isubilo" means hope. We were able to bring something to David to help his situation, but we know there are many more children out there like David, children who aren’t heading back to school this time of year. My hope is that through our relationship with Isubilo Home-based Care in Chisamba we can make sure that all of the children we are supporting will have the opportunity to go to school and have a much brighter future.
To find out how you can support a child or even a whole village with your friends or your church visit www.handsatwork.org/advocate or email our partnerships coordinator at email@example.com.
By Nanci Kim
“Please ask God to alleviate the suffering,” was the prayer request of an eleven year old boy I met today.
We hiked through an hour of bush in rural Zambia to get to his home, a make-shift shelter, made of tied up patches of tall grass around a frame of cut fallen tree trunks and a combination of chitengae (a long piece of fabric, about two yards, women wrap around themselves as a skirt) and plastic temporary door. The family had moved there three weeks prior and had been trying to build a home. To some, this is camping; to others, this is life.
During the journey there, I reflected on how God had brought me here two months ago. My name is Nanci Kim and I am a member of Wellspring Church. Wellspring has been partnering with Hands at Work since 2007, supporting its efforts here in Africa. In early 2012, God put on my heart to jump on the band wagon and come out to Africa to see what he was doing here. I arrived on May 18th, 2012 at Kruger Airport in White River, Mpumalanga, South Africa. For the first five weeks, I was oriented to the work in South Africa, visiting communities, walking with care workers and meeting the most vulnerable in the region. Since my arrival, I have seen much and tasted much. I have seen how God is working and why we are called to serve. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).
Since being here, there have been many lives that have tugged harder at my heart. One life that has left an imprint on mine is the story of the first family I met in South Africa. In a community not too far from White River, we made a home visit to a small studio home near one of Hands’ community based organizations (CBO). Here, the oldest was an 18 year old boy, who was finishing up his last year in high school while taking care of his seven younger siblings. Fatherless, the children lived alone for months at a time while their mother struggled to find domestic work in the area. Also, because the family members were refugees from Swaziland (a neighboring country to South Africa), the family was unable to receive national identification cards and unable to receive government assistance. It is like not having a green card in the United States. There is no road to citizenship, and often refugees are left to struggle on their own, uneducated and hungry. The youngest of the eight children was the cutest five year old I had ever met since being in South Africa. She was shy, but had the most beautiful eyes. Even her eyes tell of her story and the suffering that she had endured the last few years.
Thankfully, some time ago, the children were identified as being of the most vulnerable in the community by the CBO and its care workers. The children are visited each week by a care worker and are able to participate in the feeding program. Care workers, often vulnerable and struggling themselves, give their time to visit and care for the children. In this particular community, care workers walk anywhere from half a mile to several miles to get to visit the children in their care. In addition to the vulnerable children, care workers also visit the homes of patients who are suffering from various illnesses and diseases, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, among other conditions.
My time in South Africa flew by quickly, and at the end of June, I was headed to Zambia and have been here visiting communities and learning about the lives that have been impacted by the work that God has been doing through Hands at Work in Africa, Zambia. It is strange to think that I have one month left, but there are so many more communities to visit and people to meet. I almost feel as though three months is too short of a time to see all that God is doing here. It has been truly amazing to see this team of volunteers, both African and international, venturing throughout the continent, across borders and countries in Africa, being the beautiful hands and feet of Christ bringing good news and hope to the most vulnerable (Isaiah 52:7).
Read more about Nanci's 3 months in Africa on her blog http://nancikim.wordpress.com/.
This precious boy with an infectious smile is Thabo. He is seven years old and lives in the community of Baraka, Zambia. His favorite subject at school is English, but his greatest love is playing football with his friends, much like a typical boy of his age here in the U.S. However, his life is nothing like that of his peers here. Thabo stays with his father, grandparents and two younger siblings. Thabo's mother is still alive but the family has no contact with her and they are unsure of her whereabouts. In order to provide for the family Thabo’s father does odd jobs in his community, but he is currently not working. Thabo’s father relies on his own parents to support him and his children, yet they are aged and also struggling to make ends meet.
Mwangagal Mbuita, a Baraka Care Worker noticed the way Thabo’s family was living and the daily struggles they had to endure. Mwangagal saw that the father was finding it difficult to care for the three children properly, and was unable to meet their basic needs. Mwangagal also noticed that Thabo was not attending school as he should, and this led Mwangagal to recommend that Thabo be adopted by the Baraka Community Based Organization (CBO).
Since being adopted by the CBO and accepted into the 'Three Essential Services' program, life has changed for Thabo. He now attends the feeding point everyday and enjoys a nutritious meal. Having been encouraged to start school, Mwangagal enrolled Thabo into the local community school, and he is now receiving education, which is making a huge difference for his future. Thabo still faces daily challenges, like having to walk a long distance to school even during rainy seasons. Mwangagal still visits Thabo’s family once a week to help with their chores and encourage Thabo to keep attending school, even amidst the challenges he faces.
Hands at Work supports care workers like Mgwanagal all over Africa to care for the most vulnerable children in their communities. With help from a group of friends in the Chicago area, care workers from Baraka CBO can bring hope to children like Thabo.
It wasn't long ago that Wendy, 14 years old, and her five brothers and sisters were going without food for days at a time. Since losing Wendy's parents, her elderly grandparents struggled to care for the children near rural Susu, Zambia. When things were at their worst, Wendy didn't have the energy to play with her friends, let alone make the 3 mile trek to school each morning.
Everything changed when Wendy started receiving weekly visits from a concerned neighbor. Through Grace Church in Racine, Wisconsin, Hands at Work has been working in Susu since 2004 to empower the community to care for children like Wendy--the poorest of the poor. Hands at Work operates through local people, like Wendy's concerned neighbor, who identified her as incredibly vulnerable and was able to connect Wendy to a program providing a meal every day at school. Now Wendy has the energy to go to school again, and to play with her friends, too. Wendy's favorite subject in school is called Creative and Technical Studies, and she dreams of becoming a teacher some day.
Elena Kwani is a girl aged 14, an orphan now in grade 6 at Brunnelli Upper Basic school. She comes from Shikambo village which is 7km from the feeding point.
When her parents died, life became very difficult for Elena. Her schooling was interrupted because of hunger. Instead of going to school, Elena would wake up early in the morning to go and look for piece work in other people’s fields to earn money to buy food.
Since Baraka Home-based Care began to work in Elena’s village, her life has changed.
Through the meals and other supports provided by Baraka Home-based Care, Elena has been able to return to school. She has stopped working in other people’s field as she used to. She now concentrates in class and all the teachers are happy at her improvement. When she finishes school, she goes straight to the feeding point, where the food she eats gives her the strength she needs to walk to the school and remain attentive during her lessons.
Thanks to a group of concerned Christians in the Chicago area, Hands at Work has been partnering with the community of Baraka since 2009 to mobilize and equip local Christians to effectively care for the poorest of the poor.
Siphwe is 6 years old. She was living in the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka, when her parents passed away and she was abruptly uprooted and moved 300 km to live with her elderly grandmother in the small, rural village called Susu. Siphwe's grandmother is doing the best she can, but she is very tired, and her only source of income is the small amount of money that comes from crops she can sell from her garden. Siphwe sleeps on the floor at home with one blanket and often receives very little food at home.
But Siphwe's life is changing, because she is now visited regularly by Christopher, a care worker for a small grassroots organization called Susu Home-based Care. Christopher has been a consistent parental influence and encouragement for Siphwe. He is someone who she can trust, who loves and supports her. Christopher ensures that Siphwe is consistently attending the local school here she receives a healthy meal. This consistent food has been a huge blessing to Siphwe, as she now has the energy to walk to and from her home, to focus in school, and to help her grandmother with household chores. Siphwe still has many challenges in her life, but Christopher and the other care workers for Susu Home-based Care believe that the longer she is in their care and a part of this program, the more she will grow into a healthy, happy young girl.
"No longer will the poor be nameless." -Psalm 9:18
Thanks to generous American donors like Grace Church in Racine, Wisconsin, the Ten Talents Foundation, Nurses for Africa, and individuals like you, Hands at Work is able to support the village of Susu through Christian volunteers who have big dreams for their community. If you're interested in supporting a a child like Siphwe through Hands at Work, click GIVE NOW. Tell Siphwe's story. Advocate on her behalf. Give a name to the nameless. If we can help you, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Team leaders in Baraka, Zambia, receiving new bicylces Late last year, the volunteer care workers in Baraka, Zambia, identified a need within their community: Being in a rural location often means care workers must walk long distances to visit orphans and families in need of home-based care. Homes that are far away are not visited very often because the distance is difficult to cover on foot. Not only is home visitation sometimes difficult, there is also the problem of transporting sick children to the clinic or the hospital - both are far from most homes. In addition, the task of gathering supplies for the local care centre means that volunteers often must walk 5km to the road, hitch a ride 20km to town, buy supplies and do the trip in reverse with supplies in tow!
The volunteers were in need of a way to make their work more efficient. The solution? Bicycles! A proposal was submitted to purchase four brand-new bicycles for Baraka care workers to share. With the assistance of Hands at Work USA and a generous family from Wisconsin, money was allocated and by March 2011 the bikes had been purchased. There was even some spare change to be used to buy spare parts as needed!
Now the distance to visit a home can be covered in less than half the amount of time it takes to walk, remote homes can be visited more often, supplies can be easily carried and sick children can be transported for medical care. Enjoy your bikes!
A couple of weeks ago Lauren Lee and I had the opportunity to attend Hands at Work in Africa’s Regional Celebration in Zambia. Each year these celebrations are a time of gathering together Hands at Work international volunteers and the community-based partners from all over Africa to encourage each other and celebrate all that God is doing throughout the global Hands at Work Family. This year, from April 13-16, Hands had its biggest Celebration ever in Zambia with nearly 200 representatives from over 40 communities in Africa as well as representatives from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.
The theme of the Celebrations this year was, “Going Deeper.” The vision of Hands at Work is the local church in Africa effectively caring for the orphaned, widowed and the dying and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa. All of the different sessions focused on Going Deeper in relationship to make this vision become a reality. The celebration kicked off with a message from Hands at Work founder George Snyman who focused on Going Deeper in our relationship with Christ. He asked the question, “Why do you do what you do?” The motivation for caring for the orphaned, widowed and dying should come out of a deep love for Christ, a thankful spirit for what He has done for us, and a willingness to share that sacrificial love with others through service.
An excerpt of Ephesians 4 was given to everyone at the start of the Celebrations to read. I think it speaks directly to the purpose of these regional celebrations.
"I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received ...speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
On the last day of the celebration before the official program started a large group of individuals gathered in the morning to sing songs together. It was just an amazing time. Here is a video of one of my favorite songs, “Ananipenda,” which translates to, "He loves me."
Many kids spend their summers playing sports, hanging out with friends, and avoiding as much responsibility as possible, but not the Gilchrists. This summer Johnny, 12; Joey, 11; Holly, 8; and Hannah, 6, did odd jobs to raise money for the Baraka community in Zambia.
Recently, Bridgette Gilchrist of Northbrook, IL, heard about Hands at Work in Africa from a friend, Chloe Steinke. Chloe had invited a handful of people to a Skype call she held at her house with the founder of Hands at Work, George Snyman.
Bridgette Gilchrist said, “After talking to George, I was really excited about hearing about Baraka, Zambia. I told my four kids about the situation and the first thing one of them said was, ‘How can we help the orphans?’”
Joey immediately responded, “We can take care of other people’s pets over the summer!” A short while later he had a flyer printed up advertising his services with the slogan, “H.E.L.P.: Helping Everyone’s Lives Prosper.” He passed out flyers all over the neighborhood and talked about the vulnerability of the children in Baraka.
"It was hard to raise the money at first because I didn't get a call for awhile,” said Joey. “But as the days passed, the calls started coming in. I love dogs so it very fun taking care of them. I heard all of the terrible things from my mom that happened there and I wanted to help." Joey, with help from his brother, Johnny, ended up having a pet every week from the end of June to the beginning of August.
Hannah and Holly put a map of Zambia up in their bedroom and pray for the village of Baraka nightly. Hannah decided to make her own flyer as well. Since she wasn't old enough to pet sit she listed chores on her flyer like taking in the mail while people were on vacation, sweeping porches, watering flowers, or any other tasks people wanted done. The title of her flyer was "Africa on My Shoulders".
Hannah and her sister, Holly, had a neighbor that called them all summer long to collect her newspapers and mail. Bridgette also put out a bucket at the office where she worked to collect change from all my officemates.
“At the end of the summer we ended up with $500! What a miracle!” said Bridgette. With the success the kids have had they have decided to pet sit and collect mail for the village in Baraka, not just in the summer, but all year round.
While many children are saving up money for the next toy or video game these kids were raising money for orphaned children in Africa. When asked if it was hard to give the money away 12-year old Johnny said, “It wasn't that hard to give the money away because I knew it was going for a good cause. I knew that the orphans needed help." 6-year old Holly added, “"It was so sad that they didn't have anything. I loved working for the orphans because you could actually feel what it was like to give money away to other people. I want to help them because we have everything that they don't have. It feels really nice to give away money."
8-year old Hannah said, “I have drawn a line from where we are to Zambia on a map and I taped it above my bed. I knew that I had to give the money away because I knew that the orphans need stuff more than me. They are a really poor country and God is telling a lot of people to give them money so they can live. I prayed for Baraka and that all the orphans get what they need and that they would have clean water and food. One day I want to visit Baraka."
Hands at Work would love to thank the Gilchrist family on behalf of the community of Baraka and add that I know the children of Baraka would love for you to visit!