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."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

8/21: GoGo and the Forgotten Voices dream

Friends - Here's a story I shared with an organization this week about a GoGo, or grandmother, that I know. It's all true and an incredible story of how far money goes when you give to Forgotten Voices and our local church partnerships, delivering care to local people caring for AIDS orphans.

Our dream is to help thousands of GoGos around Africa! By working through seminaries in Africa and developing a network that now reaches over 130 churches, our opportunity and capacity to help people has grown! You can help be part of that dream and the dreams of GoGos around Africa....who want their grandkids and neighbor's kids to grow up to be the future moms, dads, lawyers, doctors, farmers, artists, and sportsstars of their communities in Africa.

Enjoy! Thanks to Krista Guenin for her awesome photography!

When I met the GoGo, it was July 2004 and I was halfway through my 1st trip to Africa to learn more about the AIDS crises in Zimbabwe and local responses underway. I was traveling with 11 others from my church. We spent this trip traveling around to 13 different local efforts over the course of 12 days. It was fast paced, but inspiring to see so many things going on, with so little money.

We were visiting a rural, church run AIDS clinic in southcentral Zimbabwe to learn about their orphan care programs. Obert, the Orphan Care Director, took us to visit a grandmother, or GoGo, who had lost all 6 of her children to AIDS related illnesses, leaving her to care for 24 grandkids, 15 of which were school aged. We learned that the kids had not been in school for 6 months because of their failure to pay the fees. When we asked what the fees were, we were told that about $200 would send all the 15 kids back to school for the term, including 2 to secondary school.

After saying our goodbyes and getting back in the van, we all felt like we had just seen so much and felt like we were doing so little. We each reached into our pockets and gave Obert a collective $200 that he personally took to the schools that week to pay the school fees. He commited to making sure that each of the kids would attend school, work hard, and make sure our money was not wasted.

About 6 months later, I returned to Zimbabwe with 2 other friends from the trip to begin laying out a plan for how we could get involved in these local efforts on an on-going basis. We stopped by the GoGo's house to see how she was managing. Shocked wasn't the word for it...perhaps pure joy! Because of our $200 gift to the local church run AIDS clinic, the children were not only able to go back to school, but our gift helped change the village. With the money the GoGo saved from us paying school fees for her, she paid a man to help work her field, giving this man a job and allowing him to send his daughter back to school. The crops grown in the field helped feed the family and the excess was sold to help the family make a profit for the 1st time since the GoGo's last child had worked. Our gift also allowed some of the older children to go and pursue higher education in the city, as the GoGo now had help to work the land.

Since that 1st gift, Forgotten Voices was born out of this idea that local people know best. By finding commited leaders, willing to work hard to make local dreams for orphan care come true, Forgotten Voices has grown to reach 139 churches and send over 3,200 orphans back to school, including over 100 in the community where the GoGo still lives with her grandkids.

Forgotten Voices is helping local churches meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orpahns in their communities, one village at a time. Through listening to the voices of local people in some of the most forgotten places on earth (such as Zimbabwe), our mission is being realized as we equip communities, empower orphans, and raise sustainable hope for these future moms, dads, lawyers, farmers, doctors, accountants in their communities.

All the best,

To give to Forgotten Voices - check out and help make the dreams of GoGos like this come true through locally developed, locally run AIDS orphan care programs in Africa.

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