Arden’s 2009 Trip

Returning to Zimbabwe this past June, I was transported back to a place where plans are always tentative and to-do lists only create frustration, where meetings run late and photocopiers never work.  A place where I have to bathe out of a bucket and cook over a fire.  Where people are hungry, children are parent-less, and suffering is a way of life.  It is a place that demands I live every moment to the fullest.

There is so much need, yet strangely, the burden of neediness doesn’t weigh me down, it inspires me.  I cannot help everyone, so I simply vow every day to do my best.  There, that is enough.

In Zimbabwe life feels more real than my privileged American life, where my three sweet children, with hundreds of toys, cried in protest when  I asked them to choose a  single toy for me to take to a child who had nothing.  In America , it feels like there is never enough.

And although it’s easy to focus on all the things we aren’t doing well enough, to beat ourselves up for being selfish (or for having “selfish” children), during my two weeks in Zimbabwe I was amazed by how much Coalition for Courage’s  dedicated donors have accomplished in 7 years.

As I ate dinner with the sponsored children, I was told that they are all at the top of their classes.  Knowing that they are in school with the most privileged children in the country, this is no small accomplishment.  Our Norton-based scholars are passing their exams and heading off to university; we have one child in tourism school and one becoming a pastor.  Two of last year’s graduates are gainfully employed in South Africa—one as a computer consultant and the other as a mechanic.  Many of the projects we started years ago are still running, and we have finally achieved our goal to have a sustainable project, so that every dollar given by a donor can go directly to a child.  In the past 6 months our transport project has turned a profit of over $500 a month, covering 100% of our fundraising and administrative costs for 2009.  Not only are we making a profit, but our bus is serviced by C4C  graduates of the motor mechanics program.  We also have a group of girls who are awaiting one piece of equipment before they open their hair salon.  We are hopeful that this too, will become a successful income-generating business.

So it is with great pride and sincerity that I can tell you … it’s working!  Your money is making a tremendous difference in the lives of children!

As I was leaving, a group of orphans presented me with a 3-foot wooden sculpture of a hunter.  They said, “Arden, this is you.  You have come here , gathered our stories and found new children who need help.  Now you must go hunt down new sponsors.”  The effort to get the giant hunter home was almost as hard as the trip itself, but it made it, and is in the living room as my inspiration.

We can’t do it all, but little by little, we are the small group of people making a difference.  Thank you for your continued support!

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