John* is a bright-eyed, 12-year-old boy living with his auntie, older brother, and four orphaned cousins in central Zimbabwe. When John was a toddler, his father "got sick"** and passed away. Soon after, he lost his beloved mother.
John's auntie struggled to provide for her late sister's children, but the high cost of living in a country undergoing political and financial turmoil made it very difficult. She could not afford to feed, house, and educate five energetic children and herself on a meager retirement stipend.
Auntie saw a glimmer of hope when she learned about an assistance program sponsored by Visions. Finally, she would put the children through school and provide a safe and happy home for them.
After applying for aid through a local Visions partner, the children received much-needed school tuition and uniform fees, as well as visits and phone calls from case volunteers and mentors. Thanks to Visions for Africa, Auntie no longer feels alone.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
Mission Zimbabwe 2012
“BUT WHAT ARE THEY AMONG SO MANY?” John 6:9
By Dr. George Jackson
This text rang through my mind as I gazed across the sea of upturned expectant faces. We had made it to what I would call the ‘outback’ of Africa. Miles away from everything, people lived in traditional huts next to sandy tracks that the bus amazingly navigated through. Their faces will be forever etched in my mind-patient and content but hungry and needy, many of them our Adventist brothers and sisters. There were so many of them, maybe 200, older people, young men, mothers, and babies. The chief told us that some people had walked since 4 in the morning to arrive there by 9. Some didn’t have shoes, and many had not eaten that day. There wasn’t much to eat; all around were stunted corn stalks that were not producing ears because the rains didn’t come at the right time. Because of delays, it was after 1 in the afternoon when we arrived.
They were so thrilled when the students sang for them. As John 6:9 rang through my mind, I fought back the tears. What can we do for so many when we would only be there a few hours? The students rise to the occasion and take their stations and start working, blood pressure, massage, glucose testing. I go over to relieve Aubrey, and I prepare band-aids and poke test strips into the glucose monitor as Madeline pricks another person. There are people everywhere. There is a need for help at the massage station, so I jump in there to help out – well, I watched the demonstrations and did my best, but this was my first time to put it into practice (much to the students, especially Ariel’s, delight). My patient’s back was like steel with not an ounce of fat. A donkey cart arrives with a young man lying in the back who can’t walk. It is taken over to Josie for diagnosis. It was HIV.
Amazingly, in several hours, we can process all the people and the ones who need help get medical advice and counseling. High blood sugar is not a problem when you don’t eat! We hear that the people think this is the best meeting they have ever had, but the need is still huge. If we came back, the chief would arrange multiple groups of people to work with across the miles of open country. It seems like a drop in the bucket; they needed food, bags of cornmeal to make sadza to eat. We can’t come back without a truckload of cornmeal! Those faces, those looks, I will never forget them.