Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Operations in Zimbabwe - Important Note

Dear Friends - Thanks for your continued concern and prayers for Forgotten Voices, particularly the fragile state of Zimbabwe. As I travel around Africa, I'm deeply encouraged by the work occurring in HIV/AIDS care, as well as the tremendous community response to the pandemic. Churches are leading the way and it is our great joy at Forgotten Voices to help equip local leaders with the tools and resources they need to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities.

The Zimbabwean government has issued a full stop on NGOs operating in Zimbabwe, banning all activities in the country. It is our understanding from talking with various members of leadership in the country (government and church), we are excluded from this ban. Forgotten Voices provides its support through the local church network, thereby not serving as a traditional NGO that are included in this ban. For example, rather than having a Forgotten Voices office, with Forgotten Voices directly paying school fees for kids, we provide money to local churches, who use their volunteer network to pay school fees for kids.

With that said, the situation is becoming increasingly more dangerous. Projects may take longer to start, as well as proceed, and money to our projects may take longer to process.

But our model does enable us to work (sometimes slowly) in one of the most dangerous, unstable environments in all of Africa. Everywhere I go, people cannot believe we are continuing our commitments to Zimbabwe. It isn't easy, involves a lot of faith, and consistent giving from people like you as we adapt hourly to the changing conditions in the country.

I will not lie to you. The efforts being undertaken by our church partners, as well as our leadership team (me, our Board, and volunteer leadership team) are extremely difficult at times. At times, unconventional approaches are needed, but we are working to make sure accountability and transparency, as well as ethical practices are used. These unconventional approaches include having to sell fuel to schools in exchange for school fees, or importing items and bartering for food for church orphan care programs. Acquiring money through the bank system or even in the parallel market is highly complex and difficult at times. Food is running out in the country and pressures are mounting daily on the average person that our projects serve. I see everyday that we are losing this battle and I resign myself to the realities that we are not succeeding at meeting the challenges before us...and at times, we can only pray that God will see, know, and respond with justice & mercy.

We are working very hard to stretch every dollar donated to us, but risk is involved. Since the government isn't providing much care currently and they have now banned NGOs from operating in the country, our local church led approach is needed more than ever. If it is was easy, everyone would be doing it. That's why we are serving in some of the most forgotten places on earth.

Please continue to pray for wisdom and safety for our church partners in Africa, for me as I try to connect dollars with needs, and please pray for donors in the states - pray that people are stirred to action. I also pray for courage for people like you, reading this now, as you consider sharing the stories of pastors in Zimbabwe and Zambia who are leading orphan care projects in their communities.

As the situation unfolds in Zimbabwe, we will keep you posted. Please also pray for the leaders in government, political candidates, the people of Zimbabwe as they prepare for a run-off election on June 27, and neighboring countries, who will/should become more involved in helping pave the way for a new Zimbabwe.

At the end of the day, there are a great many things I could say and would like to say about the politics going on in Zimbabwe. However, I lead a non-profit organization that is seeking to empower local leaders in southern Africa with the resources they need to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities. Forgotten Voices is in the loving children like Jesus Christ would business. We are not in politics. I'll leave those matters for others to sort out and I'll pray for all involved. Doing otherwise would put our organization, our partners, and myself in jeopardy.

I am in Africa until 20 June, but will be happy to answer any additional questions on this after I get back. Please feel free to call me at 717.506.0633.

Pray with us and we will pray for you.

All the best,
Ryan Keith
President, Forgotten Voices

To give or learn more about Forgotten Voices, visit us online at

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