On June 15th, 2007 I will be leaving my small community where I live and going too many miles to count along with 8 other guys from my church to Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa. Why am I going? I’m going because our church is determined and committed to helping those suffering because of the AIDs epidemic in Africa. We believe that although we may not be able to do much we can do something and the love of Christ propels us to serve.
In the past year my church has “adopted” the Cooledge Family (Gord, Anita and their three children Nathan, Ben and Latasha) who are missionaries from Canada who are living in Zimbabwe and overseeing the Village of Hope. Here’s what they have to say about what they are doing:
Our focus is the Village of Hope in Harare, Zimbabwe. Because of our life experiences, God has given us both a passion for orphans. To see them given hope, love and security so they too, like us, can dare to dream of a vocation and a calling. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit’, we know that this vision can happen for the children of Zimbabwe – those orphaned because of AIDS. With love and Christ centred discipling, the ‘least of these’ can be come great! (Zec. 4:6 / Luke 9:48)
This Village of Hope is one of three in southern Africa. On the edge of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, a 20 acre campus with a church, preschool and two childrens’ homes already exists. When fully developed, this property will contain another 16 childrens’ homes, housing about 200 children altogether, an elementary school and medical clinic. With over one million orphans as a result of AIDS in this country alone, the needs are huge. With God’s help and guidance, these developments, staffing and day to day operations will be our responsibility.
In going to Zimbabwe, the group of men from our church and myself will be assisting in construction projects including building a home for these orphans. We will also be participating in after school feeding programs, a farming project and other activities to support the Village of Hope in Harare. We are going to help the Cooledges further their work in Zimbabwe and help the Village of Hope get more established. We are going to strengthen our church partnership and relationship with the Cooledges. We are going because we believe God has called us to go and we are going to share the love of Jesus Christ in practical tangible ways that will help the Cooledges impact this part of the world with His love.
Personally, I am also going on this trip because it breaks my heart seeing what these children are going through. Consider the following statistics:
- Zimbabwe is a developing nation in the lowest 25% of the worlds’ economies
- HIV/AIDS is estimated to be present in 24.6% of the adult population (2001) putting this country in the top tier of all countries. That’s close to 1 in 4 people in Zimbabwe living with AIDS!
- Tuberculosis is common in all developing countries. However, Zimbabwe has a prevalence of over 100 cases per 100,000 population, the highest WHO risk category.
- The life expectency is 36.67 years
- 70% of the population are below the poverty line.
- The inflation rate is now at nearly 2000%! Which to put in perspective means that if a loaf of bread costs $1 a year ago it now costs $2000. Practically that means that when people get paid in Zimbabwe they have to spend their money right away because in their volatile economy their currency has devalued by the end of the day and the money won’t go as far.
Needless to say, these statistics present a pretty grim picture for the conditions that exist in Zimbabwe. However, there is hope. Hope being provided by people like the Cooledges who are sharing the love of Jesus Christ and helping care for the children orphaned by AIDS.
I consider it an honor to be able to have this opportunity to go and assist their work there.
As part of my contribution towards the fundraising for this project I’ve set a personal goal of raising $5000 towards the project. As part of the team I am only directly responsible for raising $1500 but I would like to raise more than that so that money can go directly towards helping the Village of Hope get established and the work that the Cooledges are doing in serving the people of Zimbabwe and in particular the orphans.
There is more information about Zimbabwe 2007 on my church website or you can contact me if you would like more details. I’ve also started a series that chronicles my experience with this project. I want to thank you in advance for your contributions to this worthwhile cause!