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Hope is the Spark that Changes Lives

Day 4...

While three people lie in the home recuperating out of the heat and snapping shields for feminine kits, Morgan handwrites names on certificates for the Mini-Mending Class, Denis and Reilly paint the school. Kathy sorts clothes while Juju, Jeanie, Erica, and Siobhan lead the sewing class. Aiden sleeps and I make the rounds, learning what goes into the green lentil stew, taking photos of various projects, and finally ending up at the school painting.  The day grows hot quickly and I am grateful for my hat and sunglasses. Before you know it, we are surrounded by children and it is time to take photos!

school uniforms donated by lebanon catholic schoolDay two and a half to three and half of three...

We eat an amazing lunch of rice, pea/lentil/green pepper yumminess, ugali (a corn staple here), fruit salad, and cabbage salad, chased down by lots and lots of water.  It is only midday, but we have worked hard and we inhale the food and drink. After resting for an hour, we head out again and split up – sewing team is the same, while Andy and I put brand new sheets and pillow cases on brand new mattresses and pillows for the 14 children at the orphanage next door.  They have never, ever slept on a bed and our gift to them is a bed for each, with sheets, pillows, cases, and blankets needed.  We outfit the caregivers as well and they simply cannot stop smiling and saying thank you. It is neat to see how something we take for granted is a gift to others.  I believe that these kiddos will be happy to get off the floor and that there will be some celebrating at their home tonight!

The electricity goes off at the same time that I wake up, which happens to be at the same time the rooster starts to crow – 3am. I look up and notice the fan going slower and slower and realize the electricity is gone.  In the ensuing silence, I hear chirps and I wonder what sort of bird is making noise at this ridiculous hour.  As jetlag takes hold of me and I can’t go back to sleep, every sound is suddenly louder. I close my eyes in the darkness and imagine what each sound represents – the closing of a gate, meaning that someone is going to start work soon; the barking of a dog far, far away; the incessant chirping that I suddenly realize are bats; the hum of a mosquito who won’t be around much longer, thanks to the bats; the stupid rooster who decides to crow again at 4:00, 4:30, 5:00 and 5:15.  His timing is off, but his followers crow right behind him, from every corner of the village.  I am not a fan of the rooster right now, but I manage to fall asleep again at 6 or so and sleep for 24 minutes before I get up to bathe.

We arrive in Nairobi, Kenya after 2 hours in the car and 16 in the air and the air feels cool and refreshing after the stale air of the airplane. We all slept some on the last flight, so we feel slightly alive and we arrive at our hotel for the night ready to meet the rest of the team. Two Australians, 9 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 Ukrainian make up our team of volunteers and this bunch of new friends is making our way to Miwani where we will work together with the community there for 2 weeks.

ann damianoVolunteer profile: Ann Damiano is involved in #PassMyPlate

Imagine trying to eat every day with a budget of $1.90.

Believe it or not, the poverty level worldwide is living on $1.90 everyday – and that is not just for food. Medicine, housing, clothing, transportation, schooling, and other everyday costs are included in what $1.90 must cover for a family living in poverty.

The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) is a non-profit global organization that brings this experience to individuals in order to raise awareness and funds for children who have been infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS.

Did you know that giving provides physical and emotional benefits? As in, you can be a healthier, happier and more grateful person by giving.

Classes 1702 and 1703, new recruit correctional officers from the Cook County Sherriff’s Institute, completed a sixteen-week academy training, two weeks of which included advanced mental health education. During these two weeks, recruits were taught how to prevent and manage stress, whether it be in their career or personal life. And one of the most effective ways they learned about was through the act of giving.

AFCA Volunteer Profile: Sam Kolinssam

For the last three years Dr. Samuel Kolins has given the first Saturday of the month to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS.

Kolins is a warehouse volunteer, a critical part of AFCA’s mission to provide families in Africa with the resources necessary to live healthily. As he recalls, the first few times he worked with AFCA he reflected on how new the experience was to him.

Kolins first engaged with AFCA after hearing about the organization during a day of Inclusive Excellence Symposium at Lebanon Valley College. Since then he has enjoyed volunteering at the warehouse, organizing and packing supplies to be shipped out to the locations that AFCA supports.

jodi winfindaleVolunteer Spotlight: Jodi Winfindale

Seeing the world through another’s eyes is a life-altering experience and for mother of eight, Jodi Winfindale, that experience involves travelling to Zimbabwe with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA).

Winfindale has been a volunteer with AFCA since 2012 when she was recruited by Tanya Weaver, who runs the organization. Since then, she has been active in different AFCA programs, including Vacation with a Purpose, where volunteers donate their time to help local communities in third-world countries like Zimbabwe.

“Going to a third world country where there is no reliable electricity or running water is really moving,” Winfindale said. “Volunteering with AFCA is really cool; it definitely takes you out of your comfort zone. It definitely takes you out of yourself, but it allows you to grow and learn things you never knew you would.”

betsy dorsey

Volunteer Profile: Betsy Dorsey

Betsy Dorsey has been volunteering for AFCA since 2010.

As she started out slowly in the beginning, she began taking on more responsibilities for her time on duty, which then led to her becoming the AFCA warehouse manager.

As the warehouse manager, she coordinates the pickup of donations. She oversees the preparation and packaging of all the supplies and equipment that will be shipped to help benefit kids who are in need. Four to five times a year, Dorsey and other workers load containers that consist of the equipment, and each container must be loaded within two hours. This means that they must strategize how and where they are going to place the supplies and equipment days before the volunteers begin to load the containers onto the truck.

anne parmerVolunteer Profile: Anne Parmer

Anne Parmer has been involved with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) for the past three years, and has absolutely loved every minute of it.

Parmer first heard about the organization when she interviewed its Executive Director, Tanya Weaver, for a blog she was writing entitled “Interviews With Incredible Women.”

“I was blown away by her commitment and the efficiency of AFCA in working with kids infected/affected by AIDS, so when Tanya asked if I'd consider being more involved, I was willing to commit,” Parmer said.

She began working with AFCA in 2014, and her first commitment was to recruit a team of climbers, get them to each raise eight thousand dollars and then to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

view in the farmThe American Foundation for AIDS (AFCA) has been working the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since late 2007.  There, we have provided medicine for patients cared for at Tandala Hospital and at 13 smaller clinics throughout the region known as the Ubangi.  With little infrastructure in place (think – no electricity or running water) and with roads that are full of potholes, mud, and puddles, it is always an adventure when we visit the projects to see how things are going!

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