Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, harder than most of the rest of the world. The crisis has not been helped by the corrupt leadership of the country and the resulting economy. The inflation got so out of control a few years ago that the government was forced to give up on the Zimbabwean currency altogether, and switch to the South African Rand and the US Dollar.

1 out of every 4 children in Zimbabwe is an orphan. There are an estimated 100,000 child-headed households. The average life expectancy is between 45 and 50. Less than 4% of the population is over 65.   


   1. Zimbabwe was home to 1.3 million AIDS orphans in 2006. It is more like 2 million now.
   2. 86% of orphans live with their grandparents.
   3. The median age in Zimbabwe has dropped to 19 years old.
   4. Zimbabwe currently has an 80%+ unemployment rate.
   5. In Zimbabwe, 33% of pregnant women are HIV positive.

Can you imagine?

The good news is that there are people in the world who want those statistics to turn around. Some of those people are the good folks at Forgotten Voices International (see link on right). FVI's whole mission is to demonstrate the love of Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities.

I love FVI. It is the cause of my life and heart. By focusing on local churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia, they are able to support programs that have already been started by locals who know their own community's needs. 

A few more facts for you. Through projects supported by Forgotten Voices, you can: 

-fund a child's primary school fees for an entire academic year for an average of $15
-pay for the training of a pastor (in project management, community-building, and other important leadership skills) for an average of $50
-help bring about a farm that will feed ten people for a year for approximately $30

I first fell in love with Zimbabwe in college, shortly after a group of men from my church went to Zim on a trip to see what they could do about the AIDS crisis. A dream was born on that trip and that dream has become Forgotten Voices. I have had the honor and privilege of watching this organization grow since its beginning; though my life has been so chaotic I haven't gotten as involved as I'd like to be, I have been caught from the start in my desire to love and serve the people of Zimbabwe. 

I will try to post more about the beginnings of FVI and why exactly the stories those men brought back to PA cut me to the quick. But for now, know that Zim has been on my heart for nearly 7 years. I longed to visit and see everything for myself (to no avail) for 5 years that felt like forever, and finally, in the fall of 2009, a door was opened for me to go to Zim - with my parents of all people! They had never shown a particular interest in Zim, but by the time we came back to the States, they were in love with it, too, and can't wait to go back.  

While we were there in '09, my mom and I stayed at Morning Star Farm in the Matobo Hills, outside Bulawayo for about 5 days. We met Chris & Norma Ferguson, who run Morning Star, and immediately knew that they were kindred spirits. Mom and I were able to go into an elementary school that week and tell Bible stories and sing with the kids and do some really great, fun arts & crafts with them. 

I had a vision during that week at Morning Star that I should come back later with a team, hopefully many times, and teach theatre and art. To encourage the arts in this community out in the middle of nowhere and give them access to things they might not otherwise experience. And that 2 year old dream is finally coming true. "Hurray!" is hardly enough. 

The Fergusons have a Green Island Vision - that Morning Star will be a stream in the desert in their community and that growth will spring up as they try to educate, encourage, and come alongside the people of the Matopos, who have truly been devastated by AIDS and the horrendous economy. 

I will be staying with the Fergusons and trying to help them in any way I can as I continue to build relationships with everyone at Morning Star and with the teachers and principals of the local schools. I'll be in Zim from late Sept-early Nov. I will also be doing a little traveling around Zim (and hopefully Zambia! pray that I can figure out a way to make it happen!) with Forgotten Voices, which is a dream come true in many ways and a very exciting, humbling opportunity.

Thank you for your time, prayers, and love. 

Peace, friends.
-Abbie G.  

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