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."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Breaking out of the bubble

It is almost a year since my first visit to Africa. While I had worked with Forgotten Voices International for some time and understood the devastating description of conditions there – life expectancy in the 40’s, over 1.5 million children orphaned by AIDS, and the large number of households headed by children, I was still not prepared for what I was about to see. When I returned to my comfortable life in the US, I was struck by the words of a friend of mine following a trip to Africa, observing that those of us in the US “live in a bubble, insulated from the harsh reality that is always present in places like Zimbabwe and Zambia”.

As a way to avoid slipping back into complacency, I have taken some of the photographs from my trip to Africa and placed them on a digital photo frame in my office. Every morning I turn it on to remind me that there are places in the world where there is little opportunity to rise above the forces of poverty, illness, and injustice. The faces that appear on my digital frame are real people with names that I can remember - James, Fibion, Neatness, Petersen, and many others. They are not an abstract problem to solve. They are people whose faces call out to me to see them as God’s children and to respond through the eyes of faith.

My experience in Africa has convinced me that the Church of Jesus Christ stands as a beacon of hope and the manifestation of God’s love in the most difficult of circumstances. I have also come to appreciate that the FVI model of working through local churches is the most effective way to meet the needs of orphans. As a relatively small organization FVI can be very nimble in response to the needs identified by the local church, and can help to create solutions that have true local ownership. Africa is like most places in the world where empowerment and dignity go hand in hand. Working through the local church also provides a framework with integrity that is sorely lacking elsewhere. In short, a higher percentage of the dollars spent by FVI is reaching the targeted needs of those in distress.

I urge all of you who live in the “bubble” we call the United States to join the work of Forgotten Voices International. If you are looking to make a difference in the world, you have come to the right place!

Stephen Proctor - Chair, Forgotten Voices International

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