On our first visit to Zambia in 2011 we witnessed the great and vital work of Children in Crisis Africa (CiCA). We saw that a small amount of sponsorship can help to transform a life and bring great hope. Since then we have supported the work of CiCA as much as possible through sponsorship, supporting the charity through our ministry and trying to raise awareness and funds. It has been so good to return this year and to again see the wonderful work of CiCA and the lives that are daily being changed, touched and given hope through this charity.
It has been so exciting to see CiCA expand on this trip and it was a great honour to be part of this as a new project ‘Empower’ was launched. There is one thing I have seen time after time in the people of Africa, their work ethic is amazing and if they are not limited through sickness they will work all day long when work is available. That’s why the vision of empower is so great, it’s not about giving people a hand out but a hand up. It’s about giving people the means to start up a business and give them ongoing support to see their business succeed so they can in the end do what they want to do, become more independent and self sufficient. This will give them dignity in knowing that they are feeding their families and paying to send their own children to school. On this trip we ran seminars teaching on business sustainability, integrity and account keeping. Around 50 men and women attended the training with over half of them submitting business plans at the end of the trip. I can not wait to see this project unfold over the coming year and see the transformation it brings to people’s lives.
Another day that so touched my heart on the visit was a day at the CiCA office, as family after family queued up waiting to see the CiCA team. I’m not sure how many people we saw come through the office that day, each coming with different situations they were facing but it all came down to the basics of needing help, things like not being able to feed their children or send them to school, needing medical care, advise or just support. Some of the families were so broken and so desperate, some of the eyes of the people were so empty but again I saw what I can only describe as small miracle after small miracle. I say small miracles but to those people the miracle on that day of being given school fees, a food hamper or support to pay their rent was huge. The people are so grateful for the work of CiCA and the support of those of you who sponsor their children that often the only time they look up is to thank you. It is so humbling to see a woman begin to cry and kneel on the floor and hold your hand in thankfulness when all they have been given is what most of us would spend on a takeaway, around £20. My heart broke at times as I held some of the children. I remember one young girl who looked so empty. As she came over to greet me I thought, ‘I wish I had a gift to give her’ and not having anything all I did was hug her. As I went to let go of her she gripped on to me tighter than ever, right there my heart broke as I suddenly realised she may never have been hugged in her whole life. I later found out that that young girl was an orphan who lived with her sick grandfather in one of the poorest compounds in the area. I was so glad to hear that in January CiCA had picked her up and had been able to put her in school through the project that had ran over Christmas.
It was also good to know that I had friends and family who had asked me to find them a sponsor child on this trip and because of their commitment we had the ability to meet the need of at least another four families, feeding them and putting their children in school. What a privilege!
I have said of CiCA so many times that I don’t think all the children and families that have been helped through this charity could ever be listed on paper, this is so true. I want to encourage each of you that are already sponsoring children that your commitment is making more of a difference than you could imagine, you are a ‘life changer’. Also to those who are considering sponsorship of a child, please do it. This money goes to exactly what it says, the welfare & education of the child you are sponsoring. I know to some people £20 per month is out of reach but I want to let you know that any amount will make a difference.