Each time we go to Zambia, I ask in advance for Fr. Pierre to contact the school administrators, the board members of the Mulungushi Agro Cooperative, village leaders, a parent representative (sort of like our PTO), and his leadership team from the Sunflower Orphanage. I have him set a meeting for the date and time that I request, and everyone attends, ready and hopeful for a new project, good news, and wonderful fellowship. Together, we discuss issues and needs, and in the end, discern priorities. This past June 2015, my long-hoped-for library was moved to the top of the list. I can’t imagine a life without books, never to have read to my child, not being able to look up information, or just read for pleasure. That is their life. At the elementary school where I teach, so many kids say they’d rather play a video game than read. Do they not know that the books they ignore are precious to those who don’t have them?
Last year, I found a wonderful book store in the capital, Lusaka. Every book was carefully wrapped in cellophane, telling me how precious it was. I was ecstatic to find, Tale of Two Cities, Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, and so many more classics. I immediately filled my arms with these literary goldmines, as teachers tend to do. I was so excited to have found them, and soon had to start adding the total cost in my head to see how many I could buy with my remaining kwacha…..kwacha…suddenly, it occurred to me that the $4.99 on the back was what I’d pay in the USA, and the little white tag on the front with a “K” gave the actual price in kwachas. A little math led me to the astonishing realization that each of these was equivalent to $20 USD; four times the price we’d pay! No wonder each was so carefully wrapped. Sadly, I could only take 5, and it broke my heart to put the rest on the shelves. Right then and there, I knew I’d have to get books donated and purchased back home, and ship an ocean container. At $30,000 for the shipping, I could send many more books than the 1500 my kwacha would buy, along with supplies and building materials to construct and fill the library.
I am ready for the challenge of raising the $100,000 to make this a reality. It will take a lot of effort, but it’s worth it; they’re worth it. Without education, they don’t stand a chance. Life in the bush is hard, and to survive and raise a family, you need work. Out in the bush, there is none. If you can grow enough crops to feed your family, you might make it, but drought conditions are hindering that, and what about the dry, winter season, when only a few things will grow, but need irrigated? Education is the only answer, and we are here to make this happen.
We very excited about these plants, and the research we’ve read over the past 2 years. During our 2013 trip, we visited a Zambian operation that is using these trees to feed all their healthy animals. I am looking forward to expanding this project, and designing recipes to make this a daily nutritional supplement to the diet of the children, especially the girls who are very calcium deficient.
I still talk to Chantal, my dear friend in Zambia, every weekend. Life is so hard for the Zambian people. The rain that should have started in November didn’t come until after Christmas, and it’s sporadic. At our Sunflowers Orphanage, they’ve already had to replant the maize (corn) in hopes of getting a crop to harvest. Chantal tells me about the “load shedding”, where electricity is allowed only at certain times for a few hours. Prices have skyrocketed as their currency, the kwacha, has fallen to half the value it had when we first started our mission there almost 10 years ago. Can you imagine living on half the income, rolled back in time? Her chicken business has taken a loss, and many of her friends have stopped raising chickens. We don’t know what is killing the poultry; maybe the Zika virus, or possibly added ingredients into the feed. Both are just my thoughts. I know the feed price keeps rising, and I wonder if “strange stuff” is being added to stretch the weight of the bag to make more profit. No matter what it is, people are suffering more than they have in years, and I worry that a peaceful nation is becoming disgruntled.
Chantal continues to keep focused on her faith. I wonder, could we have her courage and strength if our lives were as difficult?
While traveling in Zambia, the hardest part is watching mothers as they scavenge to provide for their families. They will walk many miles for water, searching for any food they can find, and for an opportunity for work. Can you imagine eating bush rats? Many work in fields with babies tied in chitenges on their back. We are humbled by the sight of a woman with her children, sitting in the sun on the side of the road, pounding rocks all day long into various sizes of gravel in hope of someone needing to buy some for a construction project. Each pile is neatly built, each has a different size of gravel to supply the material needs of construction workers.
The sight of a mother holding her child dying from malnutrition or dehydration caused by the diarrhea from drinking contaminated water, is heartbreaking. In America, we turn away and close our eyes saying, “It doesn’t affect me.” This is a sight we see every day in Zambia and wonder why the world is not paying attention to anything but their cellphones. Mission Possible A to Z has a goal of awareness; to make this plight known. We waste so much while they are desperate; we waste enough water just brushing our teeth to be able to supply an entire family for a day. Digging wells, the purifying water from moringa seeds, and other clean water initiatives will give an opportunity to future children of Zambia, and we hope you share our vision.
My name is Lauren Baird. Over the past several weeks, I have been helping Mission Possible A to Z by hanging paper bricks for a fundraiser at Wooster High School. I feel good about helping because this organization is for a great cause. My friend, Meredith, a team captain for the fundraiser, asked for my assistance with the design, selling, and hanging of the bricks. Even though I am not officially part of the team, I am happy to volunteer my time.
Knowing that I am doing something good for children in Zambia who have so much less, makes me feel good. Volunteering with Mission Possible A to Z inspires me to find more ways to be charitable. The organization is always looking for solid volunteers. Learn more about how you and your organization can help with a fundraiser on their volunteer page.
Eight years ago I remember Dorene Miller, the whirlwind behind Mission Possible A to Z, inviting me to go to Zambia on their first mission trip. She told me I would be a gift to the orphans that lived at the orphanage. However, I said no. I was scared. Scared of how the experience would change my life. Scared of a broken heart when I would leave the orphans and go home. Scared of not being able to afford the trip.
After eight years of spiritual growth, making an active investment into an orphan, Dube, and the adventuring spirit of my daughter, Marjorie, my heart has changed and led me to jokingly ask Dorene, “When are we going to Zambia?” She had just made a trip the year before and I figured there was no way we could plan, raise funds and make a trip in just 4 short months. Little did I know that she was looking for a sign from God if she should make a trip in 2014. God used me as his sign and when Marjorie immediately responded with “I’m going too!”, Dorene said she knew she was going to make a mission trip this year.
Thankfully I was open and allowed the Holy Spirit to use me to speak to Dorene, because I’m so excited to visit the Sunflower Orphanage!
This WILL BE a life changing trip. Please pray that our hearts will be open to receive the gifts that God is showering down upon us.
35 days and counting!