Lynn and I arrived safely back in the United States yesterday after a wonderful month with our children and friends. For those of you who have followed Project HOPE from the beginning, I thought you might enjoy an update on a few specific children you may remember.
Back in 2004 eight sponsors were located to help place two young children in boarding school after the death of their father (see Benji and Chipo, 2004). It is hard to believe that Chipo will be turning 13 next month. She is in her final year of primary school and will take her exams at the end of the year to see if she qualifies to go on to secondary school (junior high). Chipo has many friends and her smile can light up a room. Benji turned 16 last October and is in his second year of secondary school. He has grown into a polite and hardworking young man that we can all be proud of. They are both very thankful for those who have prayed for them and contributed to their schooling.
In 2005 while visiting children in the villages, Mai Chimbo and I found a very malnourished little girl named Faith. She was so weak she had to be carried out to meet us. Some of you may remember the miracle of her recovery and how we found her only one week later running around and playing with her friends after she received some healthy food from the nutrition program. Faith came to visit this January with her brother and uncle who she now stays with. She is now part of the HOPE education program and collects school fees and supplies each term. Faith has grown into a healthy 12-year-old who likes helping to care for her twin cousins that live nearby.
In August of 2006, Baby Janine was born, the daughter of one of my friends here. I was the first one to visit her in the hospital and had the privilege of carrying her up the mountain to her rural home when she was ready to leave the hospital. We traveled back to see Baby Janine last week, although she is no longer a baby:) She loves dancing and singing and it was evident that she is well-liked from the many people shouting to her as we walked back to the main road at the end of the day. She will start preschool next year and I am amazed how quickly time passes.
Project HOPE continues to assist children with nutrition and educational needs. Each Monday morning, children who are malnourished or HIV positive gather to receive food and soap. Each term, more than 100 children come to the office to receive school fees. They are all working hard in school and are very grateful to be receiving an education-an opportunity that many children are not given in Zimbabwe.
All the children are growing up so quickly, and I truly miss not being able to see them every day. Although we had a great time visiting everyone, the trip also served to remind me of where I have been called to work and what I have been called to do. I love working with the children of Zimbabwe and hope that it will be possible to return on a more permanent basis sometime this year.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this trip a success. Even with increased school fees this term, we had enough to keep all the children in school. Your continued prayers and support are greatly appreciated.